(Pics from this session are in the next post for anyone who can't be bothered with my rambling. The relaxed walk ones are my favourite and are stills from a video taken near the end of the ride.)
Cady is nuts at the moment. It could be one of many reasons.
a) she's on rich pasture and has gained weight?
b) her hormones are wreaking havoc?
c) she spends 23 hours a day being boss of a small herd of youngsters?
d) because all the field fences have been electrified and she is very frightened by electric fence? She hates the clicking noise and it's been slightly tricky even getting her out of the field lately.
OR e) because I'm cocked up somewhere and she's lost all trust in me? Or because she's in pain? She has been lame recently and her saddle fit has been compromised by weight gain. She doesn't seem lame and I've adjusted her prolite pads to try and combat slipping. But I am aware/concerned about both these possibilities and will monitor closely.
On Friday we had a memorable ride. I tacked her up and led her into the arena and around the outside a few times. It was a bit windy and she was high as a kite - spooky, eyes on stalks, every muscle tense.
So I did the sensible thing and untacked her and put her back in the field. Only kidding!
I got on and it felt like sitting on a rocket ready to go off. So I let her. I gave her some rein and let her canter around the arena and let some steam out.
I've had Cady for four years and I've always tried to work gently around issues but at times I think I've actually just avoided them and reinforced her stake in decision making.
But that day I didn't feel afraid at all. Sensible or not, I thought "do your worst, and let's at least get something going". I kept my leg on and kept her forward, regardless of her plunging about - she had to go forward.
Phil was watching and said it looked like something out of a cowboy film. Once she'd had her say I had mine. We worked for more than an hour going up and down the transitions. Whenever I felt that nuclear energy building I let her canter on a circle until I felt it die down again.
When she tried to veer off the track or avoid part of the arena I was much firmer than normal. I don't mean I battered her or anything, I just made sure I was using enough leg and blocked her with the outside rein when she tried to nick off.
It was physically and mentally hard work for both of us. I find it particularly difficult to take charge and make demands because I feel like I'm forcing things and I don't know if that's good or bad long term.
By the end we walked three times around the outside of the arena at a walk on both reins, on a longer rein. She had a few small shivery spooks at the sheep rustling in the hedge next door but stayed on track and relaxed a little.
On Saturday I let her rest off any sore muscles (I know I felt a bit battered) and on Sunday morning I rode again. She was higher than ever when i was getting her ready but I felt she was much more forward and much less sticky and she went where she was asked to go.
So, am I speeding up Cady's progress, or slowing it down by taking this approach?
Right now I don't know, I'm just experimenting really. If I feel she's just getting progressively more nervous then I'll do a sharp u-turn. If there's an improvement I'll perservere but try to tone it down a lot.
Happy horsing everyone x