Saturday, May 28, 2011

Riding to Open Space 2 day clinic with Avery

This is an experience on going way beyond my thresholds. Haven’t trailered Cici anywhere in over a year +. Which horse will I have at the clinic? How will I feel? Can I handle her? How will Cici react to playing with other horses in the arena? How will she be riding outside in wide open spaces? Our comfort zone is trail riding in heavy woods. What have I gotten us into?

Cici steps off the trailer at Avery’s new farm, with every foot firmly LB. Even Avery is surprised LOL. She (Cici) is focused on me and isn’t the least bit phased by the four geldings in the clinic. They, on the other hand, are all immediately taken with this blond girl! All four drop their tongues, as well as other anatomical parts when they see her.

Initially I am a bit shaky and tell Avery that I am at the edge. She asks, “What can I do to help?” Such a simple question from a mere slip of a girl, and oh so comforting. With that simple question I know all will be fine.

We play in this huge indoor arena. We play outside on a sandy arena and on grass. Tall, tall grass that has been mowed. Cici is so LB I am wondering where is my usual RB horse LOL. When we finally move over to circle on the grass and she stops to eat and I ask her to keep going she displays her BBB. I can laugh and ask her to keep moving those feet. She settles back to LB quickly.

In the afternoon we saddle up and again start out in the indoor. Avery mentions to the other people in the clinic about introverts, and Cici. How they look so calm cool and collected and then can explode without warning. No one had noticed Cici's BBB earlier.

Asking Cici to trot and maintain the trot is the challenge. She starts off okay but quickly starts to argue with me about stick to the rail. "Stop touching the reins" I politely ask her to go back to the rail but she has other ideas. So I go with her ideas and turn toward the center of the arena and do direct to indirect disengagement. Quicker and quicker. Takes a while before Cici begins to reconsider leaving the rail. Same with asking for trot. What I come away with is the importance of out persistenting her. This is another threshold for me. That I can indeed out persistent her.

Her trot is more relaxed. Not a jarring up and down trot but a smooth flowing trot. Even Avery commented on it - she had asked in the morning how long I had had her on the new supplements - only a couple of days. Clearly its her mind. Cici's mind - more relaxed - not worrying and thinking - and its being expressed in her movement. How cool is that?!?!

When we go to ride outside I am focused on stick to the imaginary rail in the "sand ring". Another threshold - riding out in the open. Realize this is much more about me than Cici. She is doing fine. I just need to get in harmony with her fine. Avery is there - supportive, encouraging, and slowly making her idea of trotting in this ring - mine. I have to smile. I am trotting around the ring in an open field with no fences.

Day two we again start out online in the indoor, then move quickly outside. I am more confident and have Cici circling half on the sand and half on the grass. The footing is a bit wet and uneven and again she displays her BBB for everyone's benefit - much bigger this time. Avery suggests falling leaf pattern - so off we go across the grass. So much space to play with. I can really ask for her attention, keep those feet moving, change of direction, maintain gait. What a blast!

In the afternoon we are ready for our trail ride. Avery gives us tools for impulsive horses (direct, indirect reins/hindend disengagement), for horses who are upset about other horses passing- Cici (turn their noses toward the offending horse and sideways them away), and what to do when we come to a huge open field - form a big circle everyone facing inward - and let the horses eat the grass.

It is an amazing two days. So much to think about. And things to play with. Excited that Cici handled everything so well.

Well....when we finally get home and open up the trailer....Cici is a raving RBE! Head up like a giraffe, soaking wet, screaming her head off and can't wait to GET OFF THE TRAILER. She just about plows right though me! Where did she come from? Maybe I loaded up the wrong horse?

The next morning, Saturday, I am at the barn at feeding time. I gather up her hay and walk into her paddock. Mary is on the other side of the fence feeding Cici's girl friend. Cici does not even acknowledge me! She nickers to Mary. I am standing right in her paddock, two flakes of hay in my arms and she is ignoring me! Mary leaves and Cici looks right at me and turns her butt to me and just stands there!?!?!?!?!

Totally blowing me off. She NEVER turns down hay. I am not going to put it down until she comes to me. (By the way, Casey has grabbed one mouthful and is totally torn about what to do - stand by his woman or eat.) We have a stand off for a couple of minutes. Finally she turns and walks to me and reaches out to take a small bite. Not a greedy bite, a teeny tiny bite. Who is the mare and what has she done with my beloved Cici!?!?!?!

I put the hay down and she walks over and eats. I leave her alone for about 20 minutes and then come back to the paddock with her halter. We need to reestablish some respect, some relationship. She does not even pick up her head. I start swinging my rope. She eventually leaves her hay and goes to the water trough. Now this is something I always allow - it usually goes she looks at me as I enter the paddock, leaves her hay and gets a drink. Then she comes to be haltered.

Today she drinks, chews, looks at me, chews some more, takes another drink think about it and walks two steps towards me, then turns sharply to go to the hay! Catching game is on! She winds up running into the shed - hahahaha you can't be behind me now. And she just stands in the doorway looking at me. And I stand looking at her. A Mexican or maybe Massachusetts standoff. I keep looking at her and finally, finally she slowly, oh so slowly, walks out of her shed to me.

I remember thinking when I signed up for this clinic - Two full days with Cici. Take our relationship to a whole new level. That's for sure LOL!


Kim said...

My first thoughts are Hot Dog quickly followed by "oh boy!" ;) You have a whole new layer of your relationship to play with now.
Your story reminds me of when I used to come home after a long vacation and as I drove up to my horse's paddocks and stopped to say "Hi," Spice would turn her head away. I often needed to wait a full minute or more before she'd stop pouting and look at me. Then I'd continue driving up the lane to park and she'd be happy to see me. If I didn't wait for her to look at me she'd be aloof that session and sometimes even snarky. She wouldn't bother to even make the effort to turn her HQ to me, but rather she just wouldn't acknowledge me at all.
Hope you are fascinated vs frustrated by this new side of Cici.

JMG said...

Am I ever! Can't wait to see who is standing in the paddock today.

JMG said...

By Sunday I have the sweet girl back who wants to hang out with me.