Shock and Awe
|October 13, 2015||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Well, that’s disappointing.
Let’s talk about why I have only 2 pictures of my new-to-me Smuckers (yum, delicious!) harness, and neither picture is on a horse.
That would be because Farley is specializing in being an a$$twit. Requiring TWO hands on the lines, and we haven’t even been hooked to the cart yet.
What’s her problem? I have dared suggest that I can hold a teensy itsy bit of bit contact with her.
So that, you know, I can communicate how sharply we are turning, for example.
It may surprise you to learn that Farley isn’t perfect. Oh sure, roll your eyes, but for something that isn’t a robot you’ve got to admit she’s pretty awesome. You probably don’t come to blog every day with bated breath to see which of my body parts she has maimed, or how she almost killed me this week (I’m assuming you read the same horse blogs on the greater blogosphere that I read?). Farley is pretty saintly. But there’s one thing that drives me absolutely bonkers: how thoroughly she will avoid truly going on the bit.
This fussiness about pressure on her face isn’t new. (and isn’t uniquely just in response to a bit BTW). Over the years we have worked out an excellent compromise regarding bit and rein pressure….but apparently she had decided that driving deserved a re-negotiation.
Farley’s proposal: No bit or line contact at anytime except for the barest suggestion that a turn might be in order. Stops would be verbal only and she could decide on her own how sharp a turn should be and when it should be concluded. Communication during driving should consist of a hope and a prayer.
Mel’s proposal: Light contact BECAUSE YOU CAN’T MOVE OFF MY SEAT WHEN I’M SITTING BEHIND YOU IN A CART. Don’t toss your head, and let me help you understand what we are doing so you aren’t GUESSING AND GETTING PISSED OFF.
So. Not. Impressed.
I think it’s a coincidence that both wretched sessions happened with the new harness. I had planned on possibly going out for a short trail drive the first day so was ground driving in the parking lot and orchard shoulders in preparation and she was acting quite unenthused to go out (she is SO SICK of our home trails), which is where REALLY noticed her reluctance to allow any bit contact. Which is why our next session was an arena ground driving session focused on yielding to the bit….much to her dismay.
In some ways it was kind of nice to see her having a couple of hissy fit melt downs. I’ve gotten a couple of exceptional sessions the last couple of times, including *extended trotting around the arena for the first time where she was just amazing.
*Interestingly trotting a horse for the first time in a cart is a lot like trotting a newbie under saddle. You prep them as best you can, support them as best you are able, and encourage them to figure it out. So many bad things can happen as they try to coordinate the tack and balance and you are sitting there praying nothing horrible goes wrong those first critical times…and then there’s this magic moment when the get it and that feeling is just the best.
In reality our current “norm” probably somewhere between “need a second person for every drive” and “hook up for a trail drive any ‘ole day”. But it’s still hard to not roll my eyes at the drama.
Especially when you compare her to MerryLegs. The THREE YEAR OLD. Who let me walk up to her in her paddock, without a halter, and use my ANGLE GRINDER to rim her front hooves, without any previous exposure to the angle grinder. Oh, and also who I haven’t done anything with in a month.
Officially categorize that under complete and utter “awe”.
MerryLegs is 4 weeks out from a trim, mostly because she’s not a 100% in the hoof cradle and seems suspicious of the dremmel so I have to trim her the old fashion way with a rasp and her hoof between my knees. It was a bit of an exercise in swearing 4 weeks ago to get it done which had me questioning whether I was physically capable of trimming her again before Figlet (my nickname for Baby Newton) is born. It’s the combination of being bent over and having to rasp back and forth that is basically impossible. After a week of putting it off because at no point that week did I feel up to the task, I finally asked a friend for help that had initially offered a few months ago to trim my horses once I got “too pregnant” and admitted that 40 weeks was too pregnant, only to find out that she wasn’t going to be able to help with trimming after all.
I took the grinder into the paddock to touch up one of Farley’s hooves that I was unhappy with post trim. I didn’t take a halter because Farley *should* just stand there. Which she did.
I then walked up to MerryLegs with a hoof pick to pick her feet out and expected her to just stand there…which she did.
And then I looked at the grinder at my feet and decided….well, why the hell not at least try?
So, without doing any “introduction”, I picked up the grinder, turned it on, and trimmed her left front.
And then I walked away.
She followed me.
So I picked up her right front and trimmed that one too.
Really. I can’t make this &*^&^%%^*&( up.
I literally walked up to my three year old in her paddock and said “I’m going to trim your feet with this power tool” and she said “OK, cool”. And then I did that.
Here’s my takeaways
1. Sometimes a clean slate really is better.
2. Copious amounts of desensitization can actually sensitize horses to a task or object (I’ve had this suspicion for a couple of years now and we’ve talked about it on the blog).
3. It’s easy to believe the best days are the norm and the worst days are the exception. Odds are Farley will be infinitely better for our next session and MerryLegs may not let me use a grinder while she’s loose in her paddock for another month. Neither means I’ve made exceptional progress, or that I’ve backslid and given up all progress that has been made. You did read that link about our horse sessions centered around a mean in Oct Link Luv right?
4. Working with the horse you *have* on a particular day, and not the horse you *expected* really is the best policy. No matter what age they are.
Working the horse you *have* has been one of the biggest keys to my successes with my two this year. All parties are much happier with that arrangement. It was definitely a hard lesson to learn! But so very worth it.
#4. I need this pounded into my head, tattooed on my arm, written on my saddle…
I’m so bad at letting expectations frustrate me.
I’m really good at saying that I understand and ask only what the animal is capable of giving me at that time. I even execute it fairly well In non equine species. For some reason I fail HORRIBLY in remembering this applies to all animals, even my horses and even the sixteen year old. Sigh. We can get matching tattoos.