Sunday, April 6, 2014

Best Decision Ever

Last Spring Maggie and I never saw much of the trail. I boarded her at a nearby arena hoping to get an early start on the season but it didn't turn out that way at all. After a few weeks at the facility I realized I had more than I bargained for.Maggie had turned into an anxious nervous mess of sorts. I wasn't sure if it was the environment or something else. Nonetheless, she we had to take a step back. Given where this mare was mentally, it was pretty clear that distance rides of any kind other than a long walking trail ride were off the calendar.  If Maggie was this bothered at home, she would only be a disaster in a distance competition.

I changed her focus. Spring time was all focused arena work and obstacle course work. We spent alot of time revisiting groundwork  and spent hours back in the round pen.  I worked her consistently on the lounge line doing walk /trot /canter transitions. I rode her in a couple of cow clinics and we took a few leisurely trail rides in between. Our arena sessions were often difficult, leaving me frustrated and puzzled at why this mare seemed to be making everything more difficult for herself and me. Everything was a BIG DEAL. A leg cue , a half halt , a walk to trot transition and canter transitions were explosive.  Saddle fit, teeth and all other physical issues were ruled out. It just seemed this mare had turned into a sour unhappy girl.  July and August brought about a lot of travel for my work and I wasn't home long enough to do anything by my laundry and repack. Tom rode her a few times just to keep some fitness on her  during those weeks I was gone. I advertised her for sale. Before I knew it , fall had arrived. One day in particular stands out. I was waiting for a potential buyer to arrive  dreading the whole process because I was certain she was going to be a awful. The family that showed up fell in love with her immediately.  She quietly trotted around as I rode her prior to them taking her for a spin. I was a bit in awe, wondering who this mare was and what had she done with Maggie. The sale didn't work out. Maggie was still more horse than they needed and I turned their offer away.
I rode her a few more times before the winter conditions set in, and each time she seemed a little better and better. I was puzzled.

Maggie has come out of spring the same way she went into winter. Content and quiet to ride. I have been on vacation this past week and have ridden her several times. She has remained an absolute joy to ride, both on the trail and in the arena. Yesterday,  I took a chance and asked for a canter depart from a walk. It worked and Maggie cantered off without her big kick out, buck or head tossing maneuvers she had previously become know for.  Her canter was quieter in both directions and I even had to ask her forward to keep from breaking into a trot.

So while I can't put my finger on exactly what her issue was last year, she seems to be over it. (Fingers crossed) and she is actually a real joy to ride. She still gets cranky with certain things, like too much leg cue on her right side,  but instead of the volume of her reaction being a 10 , it's now a 4 and much less frequent.

Sometimes , I guess we have to go back a few steps in order to make leaps ahead.

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