Monday 23 November 2020

Pushing Through

Last Monday, Sophie managed to get her paddock gate knocked down and the gatepost broken right off at ground level so we had an inauspicious start to our last week's outings. She's too smart for her own good and knows the gate is the theoretical weak part of the fence where she should be able to exit, but she's obviously not totally clued into how to make it open properly (yet).

You get totally random pictures from the past month today, it's either been too dark or too wet for nice adventure pictures this past week.

Fixing fences in the dark and rain wasn't exactly my plan for the evening! I'm grateful that despite the amount of trouble she always seems to find herself in, she's sensible about it. The farm owner found her standing patiently in the debris, waiting to be freed - despite the electric wire still being on and giving her little reminders that she shouldn't be touching the fence. You'd almost want to feel sorry for her, but such things happen so frequently I was feeling annoyed.

Another day, same palomino found outside her assigned space.

Wednesday, Thursday I was working on something on central time, so I was off work early by my schedule. It worked out perfectly that I was able to get in a quick pony outing before dark. I ended up ponying Sophie out on Bridget, which in retrospect was a bit of a mistake. It's been a while and both ponies were feeling very good. Bridget is an absolute star, though, and helped me get it done. If she was a bit taller she'd make the most excellent pony horse at the track. Sophie was attempting every trick in the book and Bridget was on it...between her blocking Sophie with her shoulder and me on lead rope duty, none of Sophie's attempted escape attempts/play/tests amounted to much of anything and she had to resign herself to walking along beside us in her designated spot. How boring for her ;) The following night I took Bridget out solo for a nice ride and then I was brave enough to hop on for a walk/trot on Sophie. 
It's really a good thing she's cute.

I'm not sure I've mentioned that her current move is to kick/bite/buck/squeal/express general displeasure at your leg rather than know...going forward. I saw it the first time I got on her, and again for her first canter, but then it went away because she understood (and honestly, probably because I was using less leg - she's a Mare in case she hasn't let you know lately).  That, in addition to her general energy levels, had me feeling like she might be a little more than I want to deal with right now without professional help. But, with a few recent outings and the edge taken off her worst impulses (plus a saddle check), I was feeling OK about getting back at it. We all know Bridget is wonderful, but her go to evasion is to hide behind the leg and I hate it. It was really bugging me that Sophie was wanting to try it on for size too, so my determination won over my confidence and I got on. After a few not so great moments, we had some solid up/down transitions without drama. Why did I get so in my head over it? It was literally so easy to fix.  I'm slowly figuring out how Ms Sophie works and there seems to definitely be a part of her that is just looking to mess around and play rather than get to work. If you get really firm with her she gets highly offended and loses confidence, but there is a place for calmly laying it all out and basically boring her via repetition into listening and learning. I think my big challenge with her is going to be walking the line between keeping her interested and focused but not letting it get too exciting or off track. Good thing I am a super focused and boring human :D

I was chatting with a friend who I grew up with and she just happens to have a bit of an interesting youngster right now as well. We kind of agreed that we can't beat ourselves up too hard for the days that don't feel like good days to push things too hard, but we've pledged to make sure we make the best of the days where it feels right! I'm the worst at getting in my head about all my shortcomings and the days I don't do as much as I think I should, so it was really nice to see someone else approaching things so logically and with so much more kindness to herself. 

Over the weekend, I met a couple of good friends at the big arena. Everyone brought their young horses because I think we're all a little in the same boat right now with our babies and the shorter days and COVID limitations. The giant arena works perfectly since we all hack or trailer in from different directions, use different access gates and generally have tons of room to ourselves while still being able to keep an eye on each other. 

One of the horses was on a longe line and VERY exuberant and at first Sophie was intrigued, but even with the giant arena now and then he was a little too in our space for her comfort and prone to seemingly random explosions (every time he got near - I swear he was showing off for her) so she was pretty worried and jumpy. While it was not our best ride ever, I was proud of her for trying her best - we even got some lovely transitions right off the bat this time. I took a page out of my coach's baby horse book and eventually parked her in the middle and let her enjoy a nice long time out before I got off, hopefully starting to give her the idea that the other horses activities have nothing to do with us and she's perfectly fine to just hang out quietly and enjoy a nice reward for being a good girl.

I feel like I'm not giving Bridget much attention here, because despite all the "Sophie, Sophie Sophie" I have been getting B out regularly too. I've added in some trotting on straight lines and she's feeling super good. Riding B is very much something I am grateful for and one of my happy places, so I almost feel superstitious about going on too much about how I am enjoying getting her out again.

In other most excellent news, the indoor arena is open again as of this week! 

I also have a decision to make re: what trailer I am buying, but I think that's a topic for another post!

Hint, one of options is the one we've been borrowing.




  1. Sophie kicking out instead of forward? ... sounds like a toddler tantrum. 😂
    My go-to is also to park in the middle and watch ... that is, until my horse got too comfortable there and would either drag me there and stop, or wouldn’t move back to the rail without some serious poney-club kicking on my part.
    All horses test the boundaries all the time. But those early years are some of the toughest.
    As you know, forward is always the right answer.

    1. I think this will be my last baby, because I'm definitely having to dig deep this time to get it done! My brain knows what I need to do, my body says maybe it's dangerous LOL. I'm a bit sad the sweet baby pony has been replaced by a super grumpy mare, but holding out hope that once the pony toddler stage is over she'll be a little easier to get along with :)

  2. "she's a Mare in case she hasn't let you know lately"

    How accurate is this. Hahahah

    1. She's really just awful right now with the mare glare and the attitude to everyone, she's OK with me but testing out the biting and kicking option again with other people (and her paddock neighbours) right now. Ugh. I'm so grateful Bridget stands up to her and puts her in her place. Thanks for having my back, B!

  3. Carmen is quite good at kicking out at the leg or stick to go forward. it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that she never objected to the whip from the ground so she needed to get over it and the way to deal was not to kick but to go forward.

    1. We've negotiated a truce right now...I leave my leg lightly on her all the time and ask gently and there is much less drama than when I was tending to come out of 'nowhere'. If she doesn't listen immediately, out comes the stick. Drama still ensues, but I kind of feel like that's the choice she made and we're getting to the point where she's not holding a grudge and looking for a bigger fight. At least she's trained me not to kick or nag (a bad habit I have with lazy Bridget), so that's good I guess :D

  4. oohh trailer shopping how exciting. AND SOPHIE start behaving or we are going to send you to Tenn to live with my mini donks :) I would not say no to cute pali pony in my back yard ;) HA!

    Glad you are having fun with your ponies (even if one, cough cough is a bit bad at times)! :)

    1. So exciting! I am still having fun, part of me secretly enjoys having a little bit more of a challenge.
      I'd never do that to you or your mini donks (or your fences), she's really quite awful at the moment LOL

  5. So so super excited for you that you’re at the point of picking out a trailer!!!

  6. Buy the trailer you really want. Otherwise, you’ll regret it & be stuck with 2nd choice for years!