Friday 18 January 2013

Stressed owner = bad pony

I was running late for my ride today after sitting at home on the computer too long. I had hopes of forcing myself to stop procrastinating and make the appropriate career decisions, but only ended up stressing myself out and accomplishing nothing. Oh, and making myself late for my ride with my friend M.

I rushed up to the barn and tried to be as casual as possible catching Ginny. She has excellent horsey radar and if I am even the tiniest bit flustered or angry about anything in my life she'll head for the hills. She's not the shoulder to cry on type :)I must have passed first inspection because catching her went without issue.

I hurriedly tacked her up. By now she was seriously getting antsy and feeding off my energy. I wisely opted to walk her to the ring and lunge her before hopping on. Another friend of mine was riding at the ring. Ginny was on her worst behaviour - I have to admit I was a little embarrassed by her antics, which I'm sure didn't help owner/pony relations. Since time was running short and she seemed 75% better, I had to hop on and get going regardless of that other 25% of crazy brewing. Except I couldn't hop on. For the first time ever, she played the Mounting Block Game. You know? The one where they take one step in any direction just when you're ready to get on? Just far enough so you can't reach? That one. She actually did us all a favour.  I had to stop rushing and accept we might be late. Mounting block manners take priority.  Especially when you're about 5'1" and your horse is pushing 15.3hh these days. Mounting blocks are essential :) Eventually we got sorted and off we went. I was feeling a lot more settled and more focused on just having a good ride.

Except when we got the the trail head Ginny decided it was just too scary and we needed to go home. And then every trail after that. Probably the slowest trail ride in history as we spooked and crept the entire way to our meeting place. We've been on that trail numerous times without issue so I'm pretty sure she was just testing the situation since I probably seemed a little less focused than normal. We met up with friend without incident and off we went for a ride together. Ginny was still very hot and spooky so we ended up following M's horse who is a more mellow sort. Ginny settled a bit eventually - still overreacting  to me, but enjoying having a horsey friend. I ended up banging my knee pretty good since I was distracted and chatting with M. Ginny decided to jump a very large section of mucky ground and my knee came into contact with a tree somewhere mid leap. She's done this sort of thing before, usually with ditches or puddles where I'm expecting her to walk through like normal. She catches me off guard because she doesn't do the spooky horse 'stop/stare/leap' thing or the confident 'trot/jump' thing. She just walks up, nonchalantly jumps the entire thing and then continues walking. Maybe just letting me know my eventing ambitions with her aren't too far off the mark.

We stopped in at the lake for a wade through the water - excellent for getting those white legs sparkling. Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover is my friend - I spray it on before our ride and it gets rinsed out as we go.

Too quickly, we parted from M to head back home. The 25% crazy must have been pretty much worked out since Ginger left to head back with a minimum of drama, only one sad whinny a mile or so down the road towards home. We got back without incident and I started untacking her. I do the pony club thing where I buckle the halter around her neck before removing the bridle. This is usually a fail safe method and totally unnecessary with Ginger since she is quite content to stay where you put her. Unfortunately this time, just as I was slipping the halter over her nose to re buckle it, a horse in a nearby paddock decided to liven things up by bolting off and showing his rodeo moves. Ginger managed to escape and join the party, running up and down the lane way between the paddocks and getting all the horses revved up. When it rains, it pours, right? At least all my tack was off and the gates were closed.

Today reminded me a little of some of our rides last summer. Myself or the trainer would do something Ginger found scary or offensive (it didn't take much!) then she'd be very spooky and unforgiving for the remainder of the ride. It really doesn't take much to upset her trust and confidence. She's improved hugely these past few months, but obviously I still have a bit of work to do.

Things I need to remember:

-Ginger is ultra sensitive. I can get away with having a bad day with Lainey or other horses, but I really need to be 'zen' to work with Ginger. I'm better off not riding on days I can't get a handle on my own problems.

-There's always a first time - keep yourself safe even if it seems like overkill. I try to be ultra safe and still ended up with a loose pony running around the farm.

-I have to remember that being late is going to happen now and then. With a horse like Ginger, I can't rush to make up time or even worry about being on a schedule. I had a bit of a light bulb moment realizing that much of last summer was spent rushing to get from work and ready for a lesson at the barn. I wonder how that affected things? :(


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