Thursday, May 14, 2009

Less than a month!!!

Oh my, how time flies. When I first brought Sangria home from the BLM corrals, I was bold, confident and sure of my ability to win this competition. So confident was I, that I skipped many basic steps, leading to my being severely injured a month ago due to my ignorance. Since then, I have been extremely timid about moving forward and making any progress. While she has not given me any reason since that fateful day to fear her, I am terrified of her. Every time I mount up, I have an anxiety attack. My heart beats a million miles an hour, I break out in a cold sweat and I feel weak. Ugh! Each time I work with her, I get better - but it still takes me a good 5-10 minutes to finally feel comfortable riding and training her.

One of the techniques that often helps me distract myself from my fear is focusing on chasing the ball. I hope this doesn't hinder our skills, but it keeps my attention on something other than my fear of her reactions to my cues. So far, it's helped tremendously. Tonight, I asked a friend to give me instructions - just tell me what to do to keep us busy and schooling. This helped almost as well as following the ball. From walk/trot/halt transitions, to small circles at a trot to working over trot poles. Sangria was a superstar and I am incredibly grateful for my girlfriend's help!

Cowgirl Spirit Rescue Drill Team is attending our next competition on May 23rd. My goal is to be able to ride Sangria in a low-key quad drill at that competition. We would trot and be extremely laid back. Just entering the arena with loud music and other horses is enough of a goal, but to actually perform quad manuevers will be amazing! Our first real 'drill practice' is going to be on Saturday. Wish me luck!

I am still excited, but also very worried about the competition. Our riding skills are behind schedule, our ground work is coming along ok, but we also probably won't place well in the body conditioning score - my mare is FAT! She is an extremely easy keeper and only gets two flakes of timothy hay per day. Yikes! Oh well - she's healthy and beautiful, so if I can help her find a wonderful home then I will have accomplished my mission!

In the video below, you will notice that Sangria starts out kind of busy, fidgety and distracted. After riding for approximately 30 minutes, she really started to focus. I am thinking she is the kind of horse that will need plenty of warm up time in order to be ready to work. Some of the issues I am working on with her are responsiveness to my legs and focusing on my requests. However, I am very proud of her - I had my first canter on her the other night, but it took all of my strength in leg pressure and kicks as well as Jenny flagging her from behind just to get a few strides at a lope. Sangria tends to become very dead-sided the more she works.

In reading Mugwump's blog, I have read a tip on 'over/under' when trying to get a green colt to respond to forward requests. I am not sure if this is the right solution for Sangria and I. One, I'm terrified she will buck me off again, and two - I've only done the over/under thing once or twice. Is there another way to get her to canter when I request it? I've thought about putting bumper spurs on when she becomes dull, or perhaps carrying a crop. Thoughts?

Here's some pics and a video - sorry the video is so long, about 10 minutes - I didn't want to cut anything out, good or bad:


  1. Juliane- she looks great- you are doing an awesome job!

  2. Julianne,

    Stupid question - About the cantering... Do you have a round pen? Can you ride her in it, while you are giving the cues from the saddle, have someone reinforce them from the ground (with a flag, or whip, whichever you use)?

    Another suggestion, I have a mare who won't canter, she's just refuses and will buck and rear to tell you just how much she hates doing it... after my trainer and I tried everything in our bag of tricks, we called in some outside help, and this girl took a short dressage whip, put my mare in small/medium circles, and kissed and swatted with the whip until Mare cantered.... the circles kept the mare from rearing and bucking, and from power trotting (her least aggressive avoidance maneuver) but were large enough that she would be more comfortable just picking up the canter (and straightening out once she finally did)
    Just some suggestions we tried with the canterless wonder mare :)
    Good luck in Sacramento! It's coming up FAST!!

  3. You two are looking so good- i don't think you've posted since I was out and saw you lope- you did amazing. She clearly trusts you- now it's time for YOU to trust you! :)