Friday, June 7, 2013

Greedy, Greedy, Greedy

How many times are you working your horse and your asking something specific. It's that something you have been working on FOREVER in training that continues to be a thorn in you and your horses side. It's just not happening. You present, you offer, you ask in every possible way you know how to.. you may even beg and plead  but you keep trying.. because your the trainer..that is what you are supposed to do and who else is there to do ? It not like you  have a professional trainer  standing there every time you take your horse out to the arena for a training session.
 And then one day, the light comes on..things really start coming together . You horse is behaving and responding to your requests .. just like that.. after all those times of trying , things start to work like you want..

So what do you do?? You keep asking for more and pretty soon, you are right back to where you were. Your horse is acting out, no longer responding as nicely .  Instead of being happy with the small step of success that your horse just took,you ask for more and it back fired.

You got greedy...

 It's one of those things in my own training program that I try  to be thoughtful of. Always thinking about  how much is too much? Am I setting things up for the horse so they can be successful in what I am asking? Am I presenting something and allowing the horse to think through the situation or am I pushing them through it? When is it ok to ask for more and when isn't it?? There is a lot of thinking involved for me when I work with a horse.. especially one as smart as Maggie.

This has been a full week of work for Maggie in the arena. She has been doing very well. Tuesday night, we did a lot of canter work . On Wednesday,  I was thinking it would be a night off. I was  tired  and she could use a break but I thought it might good to stretch her out of any stiffness that might have set in . She is currently confined to a corral since the grass is currently Founder Food...She doesn't get to run and move  a lot..

Earlier in the spring I spent a great deal of time with Maggie in the round pen on a lunge , learning some discipline , voice commands, and such. She was really bad about misbehaving on the lunge and we needed a controlled environment to get things sorted out. We worked through alot of those issues, including the explosive canter departs and then the attempts to run away. In the round pen, she now drops into a canter calmly and stay in a canter with out any of the nonsense.. ..that is... as long as we are in the round pen. If I go into the arena where she has lots of room , she reverts back to her explosions. Still need to work on that..

So on Wednesday I put her on the lunge , in the arena . My plan was to have her move around for a few easy trots both directions. It had been weeks since I had her work on the lunge so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Well, she was absolutely lovely. She offered a nice relaxed trot , and lots of stretching down with her head and neck and back.. She didn't want to get racey at all.. it was actually as perfect as I coud have expected. The work earlier in the spring stuck..

 We went back and forth both directions a couple of different times . I had her do a series of trot poles to get her to extend her shoulders and lift her back. She did that so nicely I put up a cross rail to continue exposing her to the idea of jumping.. and in keeping with the theme, she did that perfectly lovely.

I was so darn proud of my little mare, I just had to go and put that damn fence up , just a little,  to a straight rail.

As soon as I asked her to come around on the lunge and she saw that bigger fence, it dawned on me that maybe this was not the best idea but asking her to stop now wasn't good either, so when she saw it and made a slight hesitation as if to say :

"Oh, wow.. not sure about this boss"...

I encouraged her forward with a cluck and my command of "trot on"...

She listened to my request and did what was asked of her but then she she bumped the rail and it came down , which scared her. She exploded into a couple of jumps and bucks and then tried to gallop away.. I got her stopped with only a loud "whoa's".. but I realized I had just screwed up..

Damn...I got greedy.. and I knew it.. At that very moment , if I could have, I would have kicked myself..

Now what?? Now I had to make it right, and make it a positive successful experience for her.

I put the fence back down to a cross rail. Something I knew she could do without any worries. It took a bit to settle her back down after the rail came down . I asked to go back around to take the cross rail .She didn't even flinch an eye and easily stepped over the cross rail like nothing had happened.. (sigh of relief)

Time to stop right there.. I asked her to walk and then Whoa.. and gave her lots and lots of accolades , good girls, belly rubs and then hand grazed her for a while.

Lesson learned.. or rather re learned.  I was just really thankful that Maggie has made enough progress in the last several months that I was able to get her brain back. It seems Maggie has come even further than I realized. She is actually forgiving my snafu's like this and carrying on without getting rattled.  A year ago.. the fight would be on and I would have spent another hour out there trying to settle her emotions down.

Greediness- it is something I really try to be mindful of when I am working with a horse.. It's exciting when your getting through and things are coming together.. sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the euphoria of that.. and then push for more when it would actually make the training progress much further if you just find a good place to quit early.

What about you  all?

Ever find your self getting greedy in your training? How did you horse respond? Did you even recognize you were being greedy? What did you do about it? 

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