Tuesday 17 July 2018

A Horsey Weekend

I finally got my weekend at the barn! Of course I am a horrible blogger and have no media of it but both Saturday and Sunday I had very productive rides followed by productive stall sessions for Kachina.

Under Saddle Work:
- my position: sit back, relax shoulders, arms forward, don't tip pelvis
- walk/trot transitions: prompt response to my leg without getting inverted
- trot: keeping steady rhythm and connection while having more energy
- canter: sitting deep in saddle without restricting the forward (hard for me since she has such a big canter), work on straight lines without her pushing against my inside leg
- stretchy trot: starting it from a point of more energy, work to re-establish stretch when her head pops up rather than immediately shortening reins (I have a whole post on stretchy trot in the works)
- focus on exactly controlling path using inside leg and outside rein - this helps in two ways 1. helps our figure shapes and not falling in or out, 2. gives me a good way to focus on inside leg to outside rein without getting into a pulling mindset
- Saturday we did some trot leg yields
- Sunday we worked on keeping focus while doing figures around jumps in the jump arena that we don't ride in much - Kachina was definitely a bit distracted but it was good practice for me to work through it
- Sunday I also did my first ever baby canter loop with Kachina (like the one in First Level Test 3 but shallower), this is the one First Level movement I didn't think we'd be ready for this year but attempt #1 went better than expected! Her canter really has become more balanced and adjustable. We still won't be showing F3 for a while though.

Stall Work:
- both days I put Kachina in her stall after our ride. I purposely did average to difficult rides to burn away some of Kachina's excess energy and to hopefully help with the lesson that the stall is a nice place of relaxation after work
- I tied Kachina in the aisle to untack and give a quick grooming before putting her in the stall. That way she had no expectations in the stall of needing to stand for untacking etc. This will come later, but right now I don't want to overwhelm Kachina's brain hamsters. It's also a safety thing for me that I put her in the stall, take off her halter and then immediately leave the stall myself so I'm not in the line of fire.
- Before bringing Kachina in I would set up the stall with her feed, a full hay bag, and a full water bucket
- Once Kachina was in the stall I would leave the stall but stay in the vicinity. I put away tack, swept the aisleway and sat in a camp chair with a book. I wanted to be close by in case she got into any trouble and also let her know she wasn't being totally deserted. However I also kept my eyes averted most of the time and was especially careful not to give her any attention, positive or negative, when she started pawing etc.
- Throughout the two days she alternated between pacing circles around the stall, shoving her neck out the opening, pawing, knocking her water bucket, neighing etc. The first day I was scared she was going to start windsucking or something as she was standing for a few minutes with her mouth open and jaw twisted (her sign of tension) while breathing really hard. Thankfully that didn't last too long.
- Both days I took Kachina out of her stall and returned her to her paddock after several minutes of no pawing and when she put her head down to start eating.
- There is still a long way to go but there were improvements even from Day 1 to Day 2 so I feel like this plan is working so far. e.g. even though Kachina's head was still up and looking around on the second day, her eyes were less white and she was doing less mouth gaping than the first day
- I really feel like I need to keep doing these stall sessions 5 days a week to keep making progress. That is quite a time commitment though so I hope I will be able to follow through.
- I also just want to say that I find it emotionally difficult to see Kachina freaking out in the stall while I just sit by and watch. However, I honestly believe that this "tough love" is required and that it's in Kachina's best interest. Right now if Kachina had to be sold, or if she got injured and had to be on stall rest, her outlook would not be great. Ideally this is an issue Kachina should have been worked through when she was young, but I will do my best to help her learn now


  1. Sounds like a great horsey weekend! I really like your idea with the stalling also, I think your hard work will pay off. :)

  2. good luck with the stall work! she might even be better if you were gone altogether (or at least, if she thought you were lol). my last mare always put up her biggest ruckus when she knew someone was around to hear her!

    1. Yeah I wonder if you could get a camera in there to spy on her from somewhere else?