Tuesday 29 January 2013

Just Trust Your Intuition

In the interest of being honest and sharing the good and the bad, here's today's adventure.

I went up to the barn today with the intention of riding. However, with the day getting more and more grey and yucky, I decided to do Ginny's stall first. Then brought her out and lingered over grooming her, until she was getting a full on spa day complete with a waterless shampoo "bath".

I finally stopped procrastinating when another boarder showed up to ride and got me a tiny bit more motivated. I eventually set off down the road. Since Ginger has been pretty 'up' the past few days, I opted to lead her down the road, which was a good thing since she was suddenly scared of the neighbours truck and trailer, which was immediately followed by a dump truck towing an excavator on a trailer. The second was a very large and wide load which had me worrying whether we were safe so Ginger's antics that time were excused. I silently thanked myself for opting to lead her down the road and lunge her at the ring before getting on!

Lunging went without much issue, although she was very hot. We had to have a discussion about paying attention to me and also what consists of an appropriate speed to canter. At this point I was starting to realise I had a seriously amped up pony on my hands and almost decided to call it a day and not ride. Then I thought I'd better stop being a chicken and just get on - after all it's not often Ginger ISN'T completely ridiculous. We had a bunch of poles and cross rails set up from the past few days and I figured if I needed to I could incorporate some poles to help keep her interested and paying attention.

We walked and trotted some exercises in both directions and I was pretty happy with how things went. Prior to my ride, I had it in my mind I wanted to try a mini jump course, but I just wasn't feeling today was the day to push it. I decided we'd keep the lid on it and tackle it tomorrow. (She is, after all, a mare, and tomorrow she's sure to be a new pony and in a more learning frame of mind ;) Thinking I had better accomplish something, I opted to trot some little crossrails and if she offered a sane canter, we'd just roll with it.

Big mistake. This is where things went completely (and literally) sideways. Ginny tapped the first cross rail with a back leg and had a complete and total meltdown. Since if anything, I was expecting a big spooky jump, I had my hands and body forward and was totally unprepared when she bolted. My instinct was to sit up and pull back, and she did stop momentarily, at which point I pulled her head around just in case. She was still panicked, though and it got a bit scary because she just ended up running sideways and almost went over. Since that plan failed, the next plan was to guide her around the corner and get her circling and slowing down. Unfortunately, the corner didn't happen very smoothly - I was off balance and it was spooking her more and I could barely get her turned from the fence. I had visions of us going over or through it :( I ended up getting tossed sideways and landed on my back, banging my head off the metal arena gate. This is why I ALWAYS wear a helmet. Ginny proceeded to bolt around the arena. Thank goodness no one else was riding. I got up and realised I got lucky with just a headache and proceeded to catch my pony. The poor girl was totally spooked - I guess having someone fall off for the first time must be scary!

I summoned all my courage and got back on slowly. And just about got dumped again when I asked her to walk on. And then again a while later when I asked her to walk over the offending crossrail of doom. After a few passes, we were able to walk over it quietly. I called that good. I think we were both a little shaken up :( I'm still wondering exactly what went wrong since trot poles and cross rails have been part of our routine for a few months now. Of course, I'm also trying to figure out exactly what I could have done to salvage the situation once it began. I've been having more than a few moments of doubt about my riding abilities and whether I'm ever going to really be able to crack the secret to getting Ginger relaxed.

On the plus side, after getting reacquainted with the crossrail, with a few more minutes of trot work my mentally overloaded pony gave me a big sigh and the best big stretchy trot we've ever done. It's like her drama quota was finally filled for the day and she could relax ;) And no, I wasn't brave enough to push for a canter.

Moral of today's story: I should have just trusted my intuition and called it a day rather than pushing on and feeling like I should accomplish something.

G is coming with me tomorrow to keep an eye on us. I'm feeling a bit low about today and will appreciate the company tomorrow.



  1. Whew. Getting thrown into something is awful, I'm sorry. It sounds like hitting the jump was a new stimulus she wasn't yet accustomed to, and her immature brain couldn't handle it. I bet the next time she hits a jump with a hind foot it will go much differently. If it's any consolation, at this time last year Connor was having gigantic meltdowns anytime I rode him out, spooking at trucks and motorcycles honestly nowhere near us, not paying attention to me, I almost got off etc. This year, he still looks at them and jumps occasionally, but it seems like he has the brain cells to do a split second judgment call on whether or not something is worth a big spook. Time will be your friend with Ginny also, I think. They are really a strange breed.

  2. Thank you! We had a much better ride today and we're all feeling a little better about life. I heard from some of the other boarders today that they had not so great rides yesterday - seems all the horses were on edge for some reason - maybe spring is coming? ;)