Monday 23 January 2023

Setting Little Goals

 New Year, New Pony Goals?

Nah, not really. The only goal remains to have fun and enjoy it. Besides, if I show up and put in the time because I want to do it, the nice side effect of that is I make a ton more easy progress than when I feel like I have to show up because I set a goal or said I would and start putting that pressure on myself.

 Most of the pictures in this post are from the weekend since the light on weeknights is still challenging.

This week brought the little efforts back into the schedule. Taking B out for mostly walking hacks, dusting off the bareback pad so I can get my wobbly core back in action.

Bay ears <3

Sophie's rides have been almost comically easy. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that after a good start to the year, last spring I sent her for a two week trail riding bootcamp did not make a happy pony. She came back very reactive and anxious under saddle. In retrospect, I thought I was doing the right thing sending her to someone super confident and experienced to get her better about the trails, but really we might have been better to muddle through ourselves. She's a sensitive girl who takes a lot of comfort in her herd and her people, so the combination of new to her rider, strange barn, and new experiences might have all been a bit much.

I'm not laying whatever was going on at Cowboy's feet and a two week visit there, we all know I'm the one that handles Sophie the most! It did feel like she had lost a lot of confidence in her self and her rider when she came back though. We then had a few consecutive rides and clinics that I felt were way outside my comfort zone and borderline pushing my abilities so I wasn't feeling that confident in her either. In fact, there was one day I was so anxious and in my head about not doing right by her that I just sat on her and cried. So that sucked. I ended up giving her a summer out to pasture to decompress and cancelled my plans with her to focus on my own mindset and getting some easy, low demand time in the saddle with Bridget. I'm so glad I did. I brought Sophie home and back to light work with some very easy rides and outings spaced throughout the fall and she just got better and better and I felt better and better about us as a partnership again. Not 100% by any means, but I think we both felt way more positive than that whole 'this isn't going to be good' cycle we had fallen into in early summer.

My new circus act - longeing two ponies at once. Not my intent, obviously - I underestimated Sophie's need to be involved in every little thing. It wasn't a disaster only because she knew she risked Death By Bridget if she didn't follow a respectful distance behind.

So, that brings you up to date on last year's escapades. We're now back from a winter vacation and Sophie is looking fabulous and feeling great too. I'm really taking my time getting her back to work and spending extra effort to make sure it's fun and interesting and with easily attainable goal posts for us both. We're back to the pony that's excited to see her halter and tack and is waiting at the gate for me and a human that's excited to leave work and get out for a little ride. I want to keep it that way! 

This week's goal was simply getting in the saddle on a regular basis. Trotting in a nice relaxed rhythm down the long side with respectable up and down transitions were an added bonus. Next week I'll probably ask the circles to be rounder and hope for a steadier connection. This week there were poles on the ground one day, a couple of days on the longe and groundwork, a walk around the neighbourhood, and a 15 min session of just doing a little walk/trot flatwork. Last night we basically just messed around and 'tracked' my husband around the property as he was working (he's always got pony treats in his pockets and she's got more than a few spooky corners she's suspicious of - G there with treats made them much more appealing lol). Basically trying to set up opportunities where I can to tell her she's doing a great job and is Best Pony. 

Photo from yesterday. I still look a little defensive up there, but I think it's more bad habit now that actual anxiety. I feel averagely confident on her these days.

Aside from the actual riding and 'work', these past few months since she's been home I let her out in the yard any time I'm working out there. She happily follows along and 'helps' me prune shrubs, build rock walls, or fix fences. She very much thrives on that. I think standard pony training metrics needed to take a backseat while we took the time reestablishing a really positive partnership for us both to work from.

Proud moment this week when Sophie wandered over and parked herself in the previously 'scary' corner to quietly hang out with us.

Longer term in to next month, I'm feeling like it's time to think about heading back out to lessons with her. I have signed back up for the monthly clinics we have here. To do that we'll have to venture back to the show grounds at some point to reacquaint ourselves with life outside our happy little bubble. That's sure to cause me some anxiety so best we put in a practice trip or two so I can focus on the lesson rather than low key being worried about the busy arena and grounds and people watching.

I'm not really feeling ready to dive back into regular lessons locally, I think being very picky who we both work with and just having a monthly check in is about where we need to be right now.

So yeah, little tiny goals in the works over here. I haven't been talking that much here about plans and progress, especially with Sophie.  Part of me was ashamed/embarrassed that I had such a setback and accomplished so little last year with my wonderful ponies (and yes I know that's not a rational or productive way to think...but it's honest). Partly I really just needed to step back and evaluate things and move forward in a way that felt right to me, without adding the imagined pressures of putting all my somewhat unformed thoughts out to the universe. 

Bonus potato pony action shot.

Ending this now novel of a post now:) How is your winter going? Any little (or big) wins to celebrate? Fun plans for the spring?



  1. Great pictures as always! I really like how you've gone about reestablishing your partnership with Sophie. You've had a lot on your plate but your low key plan sounds really good. I think you have a productive year ahead!

    1. Fingers crossed I can find the right balance this year. I think we're off to a good start, at least!

  2. I love that your focus is on the relationship not the achievements. Also, that corner is definitely scarey so good for Sophie!!! I laughed at the double lunge photo.

    1. Having them at home makes me even more inclined to enjoy them as pets and let the goals take a bigger back seat. Scary corner was treat/rest corner when I rode her the day before, so fun that she's willing to go there on her own now ;)

  3. She's too cute participating in the lunging. And I love the idea of having a pony helping with yard chores, such a dream to have them at home, one that you have put so much work into. I'm so glad you're able to enjoy the two of them there and rebuild that relaxed, smiling partnership with the yellow pony!

    1. She's way more like having an overenthusiastic dog than a horse...I really should have known she wouldn't just mind her own business and graze up by the barn. I'm feeling pretty positive we're on a good path these days - she really does thrive on being around us and being part of all the daily goings on.

  4. Sophie is so fluffy and I want to give her such a big hug!! Kudos for prioritizing all the right things <3

    1. She loves hugs and ear scratches. Thank you for the support <3