Thursday 14 July 2016

A Bad Day

Groundwork is a constant work in progress with Kachina. She's gotten better in lots of ways, but earlier this week we had a bad day that highlighted how far we still need to come.

I put Kachina out in the pasture last Thursday. I had been out a couple times to check on her in the pasture and make sure everything was good, but Monday was the first time I had pulled her out to actually do anything with her. The pasture kind of forms a big L-shape around the rest of the property so Kachina's new herd-mates were able to run around and whinny at her from multiple directions around where I groom. Of course Kachina couldn't possibly focus on me when her friends were screaming at her from a new direction so she was a pawing mess at the outside hitching post. After getting her to stop pawing for a minute, I untied her and did some lunging work around me near the hitching post to get Kachina's focus back. This actually worked pretty well and Kachina started paying attention to me and licking and chewing. I had just tied her back and was starting to clean her feet when the dark clouds blew in quickly and the downpour started.

We fled inside into the indoor arena. Kachina is fine about being lunged or ridden in the indoor arena, but she gets quite tense when asked to stand or tie in there. That problem is compounded several times when torrential rains are making a racket on the roof. And knowing her new pasture buddies were outside waiting for her probably didn't help matters either.

All that meant that Kachina was a mess. Grooming, having her stand without pawing or trying to run me over, putting the saddle on, putting the bridle on, leading, buckling the noseband, tightening the girth, it was all a fight.

I did my best to make it into a training session. I had zero tolerance for her swinging her body into me and firmly insisted she stay out of my space. I did a million minor corrections for every time she tried to walk away or move her head while I was trying to tack up. I generally have a lot of patience, I think it's my best feature as a horse person, but I'm not going to lie, it was frustrating.

Bad days are sometimes the best for learning though. This day was the same day as my riding lesson with T. T is great with groundwork and was able to give my some new techniques to use when Kachina gets to that level of blocking me out. Despite the frustrations, we did make some positive headway, and if I can get Kachina to show some manners on a day when there's a perfect storm of factors working against us (both figuratively and literally), I can do it any day. I'm sure glad it's not always that hard though.  


  1. I'm frustrated far more easily on the ground than when I'm riding. It is especially frustrating when it is a deviation from the norm. Hopefully it was just a perfect storm and things will go back to normal.

    1. I have a smaller toolbox on the ground compared to riding (e.g. I'll have like 5 exercises I can try when a problem crops up under saddle, but I'll only have a know one or two techniques to use on the ground for a given issue), so there's a lot more times on the ground where something isn't working and I won't know what to do next. That feeling of helplessness is the worst.

      In some ways, I need these bad days to get headway. They are frustrating when they happen, but I can't consider Kachina trained until I know she'll behave and listen to me on both good days and bad.