Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lessons in Emotional Fitness

ARGH...I hate being a girl sometimes. Go where you want with that, I just don't have very good self-control at some points. Ya'll get a cookie if you stick it out and read the whole thing :)

Anyway, had a FANTASTIC session with Crest today. This is the 3rd session in a row I've ended early, nearly in tears for how wonderful he is. This session was an interesting one, because it was absolutely NOTHING like what I was planning on doing. I was planning on bringing Crest down, tacking him up in saddle and bridle, and playing with some finesse with him.

Well, I got out there, and the entire herd was at the far end of the pasture. I decided I didn't want to walk him back (Lazy Franny!) so I haltered him up, gave him a cookie, and hopped on to ride back down. We didn't even quite get to the middle of the pasture, and I started just playing with some things, transitions, trotting circles, sideways, just some various little concepts. We started out doing some walk circles, trying to get him to loosen up and flex around my leg. That went really well, so I bumped it up to trot, and it was SO amazing. I remember watching Crest trot online earlier this year, (and you may find blog posts about it) and always though "Why can't he give me THAT trot undersaddle?" Well, he's been giving me that trot now! It is LOVELY, collected, and sane. After doing 6 circles in each direction with the reins on his neck, I softly asked him into the canter.

Crest has always LOVED to crow hop, buck, and play in the canter, and Linda gave me some thoughts and ideas for that, the main suggestion being to do a lot of "We're cantering...JUST KIDDING!" transitions, so he gets a taste of cantering, but not enough for him to even come up with any evil thoughts, and then gradually making the chunks of cantering bigger until he's reliable and doesn't crow hop. I've been playing with that the past few days, and today I REALLY felt the pay off. Crest cantered 12 circles for me on his bad (right) lead, with the reins loose on his neck, my hands at my sides. He then dropped from trot to walk off my energy. End of session. I got off, tears STREAMING down my cheeks, gave him a cookie and a huge hug and took his halter off. He is turning into the most WONDERFUL partner this girl could want. WONDERFUL.

Secondly, I got Prinny out, with the intent to practice a few patterns, and then do some finesse with her, since she's been out of comission for a couple weeks.

We had a really fantastic ground session, my LBI (remember that blog from a few days ago?) offered canter and stayed in it for 14 laps counter clockwise and 10 clockwise on the 22' line, which was awesome. She even did a gorgeous flying change of direction each way for me. In other words, the circles pattern, especially the traveling circling is going REALLY WELL.

So here's where the emotional fitness came in. Prin hasn't been ridden in over 2 weeks. She's out of shape and her topline looks like HELL (who knew those muscles went away so quickly?!) and she was in a completely resistant mood. We started out on the big rings of the cradle and did some fluid rein to get that longitudinal flexion going so she could round up. She picked up quickly, but was really dull about bending laterally "around" my leg, etc. We played with it a lot, and she finally got it, but she kept going slower and slower, and i didn't have my dressage whip, or even my savvy string, so she was IMPOSSIBLE to keep going. This is when my irritation started, I hate it when she sulls up, because she's SO beyond that phase, even in finesse. So I started to get a little un-savvy about it, instead of approaching the horse that showed up, I got too firm, then completely lost it when she refused to canter. Fortunately, I was savvy enough to GET OFF, and untack her, but then we had a very firm conversation on the 22' line (so much for 14 laps tomorrow). Fortunately for Prin, I reached a breaking point physically, so I had to quit, and that calmed me down quite a bit.

While she was a little taken aback, I think Prin kind of understood what I was going thru (she had a little tantrum of her own too) and she came over with this "WOW...can we start over?" look on her face. So I brought her over and we spanish walked to the gate,(She LOVES the Spanish walk, it's her new default trick when she isn't sure what I'm asking for. She goes "I'll spanish walk...see?) and I fed her cookies and then quit for the day. At least we ended on a good note and she felt smart.

So, lesson learned. I need to work on my emotional fitness and address the horse that shows up, even if we ARE into L3/L4. I'm not proud of my behavior, but I'm pleased that we were able to patch it up and end well. And I'm REALLY proud of Cresty, so my day is far from ruined.

Fresh start tomorrow.

Savvy out!


Mariah Helms said...

Great job Fran. We love you, faults included! Hang in there.


Always In Training said...

You just love doing finesse don't you. Glad you were smart enough to get off.

Katie Oostman said...

Awesome job Cresty! Fran you are developing so much from when I first started reading your blog! I am so excited for you, keep it up. Emotional Fitness is a killer, if you're not fit it will get you every time. I don't consider my self emotionally fit yet, but I am working on it. Don't worry you'll get it.

What do you mean you didn't have you savvy string with you!?

S said...

Hi Fran,
If its ok, I just wanted to ask about doing the fluid rein in [Im guessing..] the Cradle. I was just wondering if you used it that way because Princess already knew it from the snaffle and knows to stretch, or if the its possible to use the Cradle as a way to teach stretching to?

Im not sure if that makes sense or not so...:-)

Thanks for blogging your progress, you are an absolute inspiration!

Fran said...

The reason I introduced fluid rein to the cradle bridle was because when I first started her in it, she felt blocked from forward motion. Fluid rein encourages her to flex and move into it, as well as that it feels GOOD to do stuff in it. I always warm up with a little bit of it, just so she gets comfortable and happy, and then when we move on to concentrated reins, and she does something I asked for, I reward her with that. Make sense?


S said...

That makes perfect sense! Thanks so much for taking the time to explain it for me :-)

Virginia said...

umm my comment didn't come up/..arg. But I said fantastic job with Crest, I can only imagine how wonderful that was!

Anonymous said...

Part of learning is realizing your mistakes. If you never do then you will never learn, but you did and you learned. Kudos to you!

By the way, my name is Karie, I recently started reading your blog.

ERIN said...

Hey! Just wanted to say reading you blog has been great.. Really inspiring.. Even you who is getting to be really good and past level 3 still makes mistakes sometimes.

Also I sent you that email.. Just wanted you to know.. Sometimes my email acts up and they don't go out. No pressure to email me right back though. Thanks alot. -Erin