Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Always An Adventure



"And that's a wrap"

"I am so out of here"

"Don't bother looking for me tonight, I'll be staying out with the boys!"

Yes, sorry, it’s another installment in the long series of riding adventures with Dusty.  I’ll preface this by saying that she hasn’t been ridden for almost two weeks due to obligations and life in general.  Our herd has also refused to come up at dinnertime to be taken into the barn and fed.  I’m attributing this to the cooler weather and decline in the fly population.  In my opinion, the herd now thinks they are feral.  Thank goodness there is always hay in the hay nets on the fence just in case foraging at night becomes too much of an inconvenience.  Then, too, there are three run in sheds for shelter.  Truthfully, I don’t care if they stay out all the time; it’s a lot less clean up in the stalls. 

On to Dusty...  After she was groomed and tacked we headed to the indoor.  I had planned to take her on a small trail ride, but we had intermittent drizzle and rain.  We usually take a hand walk around the perimeter to fill in the holes that the foxes have been digging in their never-ending search for mice and critters.  There was a mound by the wall, which is out of character for them.  Since I had Dusty, I called my daughter over to investigate.  When she kicked it with her foot she unearthed half of a deer leg.  So that explains all the coyote yowling the last week.  I’m sure they killed a deer and the foxes stole part of it.  How nice for them that we use a salt compound in the arena to keep the dust down; now the leg would be cured and keep forever.  Not!  We disposed of it.

On to Dusty and the mounting block...  I could tell by the way she was acting from the start this wasn’t going to be an easy day, and unfortunately I was right.  After positioning her, I managed the second step before she deliberately swung her butt out and gave me the "make me do it" look.  Okay, I was ready for that.  I attached the longe to her halter and she did some longeing at the trot to the left.  Let’s try it again, Dusty mare.  To which she replied, “I don’t think so,” and swung her butt away from the block again.  Back to trotting on the longe to the right for a while and see if the second time’s the charm.  It was, and I got on.  She actually stood for me until I cued the walk.  I’m well aware that she hasn’t forgotten what she’s learned about mounting, but she chooses to challenge me when she feels like she can. 

I was immediately treated to some head flipping and her trying to pull the reins from my hands.   This was unacceptable, so, with a gentle inside flexion, using the inside indirect rein behind the wither for the bend, I fixed my outside hand directly back to my hip, elbow at my side in a direct rein of opposition, and just closed my fingers.  If she wanted to pull then she would be pulling against herself and when she accepted that and realized if she didn’t pull, things were more comfortable for her.  Being the smart mare she is she stopped challenging after a while at the walk. 

We worked on what I described in my Establish Success post, and then proceeded to trot when I thought she was willing to behave.  We had some moments where we needed to half halt to slow down, but all in all once she decided to cooperate it wasn’t that bad a ride. 

I’ve never ridden a horse in all my years like her.  She is smart with an attitude and when she sets her mind to not behave it is a true test of wills.  Instead of getting angry or frustrated I’ve found it best to adopt the attitude of being patient, insistent and consistent when dealing with her moods.  She's opinionated and not a horse you can dictate to or pick a fight with; you definitely have to set her up with a right and a wrong choice, and let her get to a place where the right choice was HER idea.  It takes time, and patience, trial and error.  But, we're figuring it out... slowly.  Maybe someday she will realize it can be fun for both of us if she’ll just give in a little.

Until next time
Quote for Today

Every time you ride, your either teaching or un-teaching your horse.
    - Gordon Wright

51 comments:

  1. Beautiful and perfect progress...that's what it's all about. I love a mare with a little attitude myself, let's me know they're smart and yes, even being opinionated isn't such a bad thing. So glad you're getting her figured out! She really is a beautiful girl!! I agree with you about leaving the horses out. A vacation from shoveling poop is a vacation indeed. We leave our feral ponies out about 6 months out of each year. They let us know when they're ready to begin coming into their stalls each night in the late fall and when it's time in the spring to begin staying out at night. They know what they want.

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    1. Dusty has attitude and opinionated down to a science. They really are enjoying their time spent outside now that the weather is cooler and less bugs.

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  2. Opininated mares! Love them!

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    1. Ah, well I guess you would know that first hand with Bonnie and Rosie. Although, I think they're very well behaved.

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  3. Good post, great lesson, and beautiful pictures. I love Dusty's dapples! What breed is she?

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    1. Dusty is purebred Quarter Horse from head to tail. You'd think she would have a mellower attitude. At least she doesn't spook and is very easy to handle...from the ground.

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  4. She sounds like an adorable diva! Good luck! :)

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  5. Adorable wasn't exactly what I was thinking while riding. In her mind I'm sure she thinks she's quite the diva around here.

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  6. the important thing is, now you have effective strategies for basically handling anything she throws at you. believe it or not, this is the foundation for all your more advanced training. you're over the hump, and without resorting to any of the ugly stuff most people do when they run into resistance from horses :-)

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    1. Thanks. I couldn't do it without you.

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  7. My goodness, doesn't she try you! You must have the patience of a saint!

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    1. Yes, St.Rider, patron saint of all Equestrians, that's me! Seriously, I can probably attribute my patience to having raised three children who made it through their teen years in one piece without me doing something drastic to them.

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  8. It's so funny how, you know that she knows you know she knows how to behave and yet she will still test. Silly girl. I never really noticed her dapples as much as in those photos, very pretty, gives her all sorts of character. Your patience is truly remarkable. Good job!

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  9. Thanks Mary. She is one pretty dappled palomino with a very dirty tail and lots of character. Now if she would only transfer that outer beauty to inner goodness we'd be golden.

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  10. Ah me, my heart goes out to you. Dusty and my Tucker are so much alike, except that some of his protests can be bucks and kick outs, both of which are most unsettling to sit. Otherwise, the challenge is so similar. I too have come up with patient, "workarounds" for many issues. There is no point in starting a battle I am not sure I could finish.

    Glad the mounting technique continues to work. Sooner or later she is going to give in the moment you make a move to lunge her. Then you will know she has finally resigned herself to the inevitable...at least for the time being. *sigh*

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  11. Unfortunately, every time I think she's got it and has resigned herself to standing still she gets me again. I really feel she just likes to be contrary and have it her way.

    I don't mind a kick out once in a while like Tucker does but bucking is never fun. It's good for me that Dusty does neither, she's just got this attitude that has to be dealt with. My daughter's horse rears whenever he gets nervous usually followed by some hopping bucks. I'm glad I don't have to try and sit that it's like being on a seesaw.

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  12. Her dapples win her lots of points with me! I can't help it - naughty, but so amazingly beautiful. Sorry - I know that is not what you wanted to hear!

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  13. I love her dapples too. Someday she'll behave ;) she's not naughty all the time...

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  14. That Dusty just gets more and more beautiful! Whatever you are feeding her, it is PERFECT...all those dapples. It's so good that you are patient and understanding and RIDING.

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  15. Thanks Lori! She is looking and feeling good these days. The best part of those pictures is they really don't show her dapples in their best light, she's actually in need of a bath.

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  16. A deer leg stash in the indoor ring? What's next, the beer cans?

    While you and I have never met, it has been a pleasure to be friends from a blogger distance and see how much you and Dusty have come to understand each other, not to mention all the tools in your toolbox your daughter has helped you with. Not everyone would be so willing to learn from their children but it is obvious both you and your herd are thriving with the give and take of learning and love.

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  17. Hi D.J.,

    I can't imagine the poker parties those foxes are having while we are asleep!

    Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I enjoy being blogger friends with you also. I think the best thing we can do for ourselves is to keep learning all the time. It just happens that my daughter is one very special person and I can learn so much from her about horses. She's a wonderful horse person and always puts the horses and their welfare before herself.

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  18. You sure don't need to say 'sorry' for writing about your work with Dusty. I get many insights from it and enjoy reading these posts very much (as I do all of your posts). On the positive side, it's nice that she's forward. You have the skills and instincts to manage the challenges she presents at times.

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    1. The good tp art of Dusty is that she is forward. I do appreciate that, it's easier to ride and make the proper adjustments for sure.

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  19. I'm working on a post on a similar line. Lily isn't like Dusty in that she's not trying to out smart me (at least I don't think so), but she is definitely not one you can get too stern with. Firm, yes. Stern, no.

    We must just enjoy a challenge, aye?

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    1. I do enjoy a horse who is a challenge. It makes it alll the more interesting and gratifying when you make some progress..
      But once in a while it would be nice to have an easy day.

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  20. She reminds me so much of the pony. Daughter has figured out over the years that just riding him softly through his challenges works the best. A sense of humor and appreciation for the intelligence and the persistence in trying to get his own way helps. :)

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    1. I know with her personality there's no way we would make progress if I treated her harshly. I believe she would seek revenge somewhere down the line when I least expected it.. Just kidding. I don't believe in treating the horses harshly but in working with them and trying to figure out what method works

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  21. Her dapples are GORGEOUS!

    I think the quarter horse people have pulled a fast one on us with their propaganda, "get a quarter horse, the easiest horse you'll ever own." HA! Mine beg to differ, apparently Dusty does too ;)

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    1. I did hear somewhere along the line that Q.H's were supposed to be the golden retrievers of the horse breeds. Guess Dusty , Gwen and Corriander didn't get the memo.

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  22. I think your philosophy of establishing success is very wise. If they're going to want to come to us and partner up--they have to associate the time with something at least a little positive. My horses are acting more feral, too. It's a beautiful time of year and they're working hard to get fat before winter. So, you walk around and fill up the holes? Wow! That is very smart. I've never really done it myself. No telling what bones are out there--the coyotes around here are spooky.

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    1. We have a pack of coyotes living right on the property line and they do get noisy at night. The foxes are the ones burying and hunting in the indoor. Filling the holes in isn't so hard. I just kick the sand backs under the walls. They've been killing the pigeons too, so there's lots of feathers to rake up.

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  23. Ah, beautiful Dusty. "Instead of getting angry or frustrated I’ve found it best to adopt the attitude of being patient, insistent and consistent when dealing with her moods." You know, patience is one of my biggest challenges. I admire that you recognize how you need to communicate with Dusty and that she needs to be set up for success. When that door of communication and understanding is finally opened all the way, it's going to be sooooo sweet. :-)

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  24. Patience has always been my biggest fault. It hasn't been easy to tamp down my impatient nature and remain calm and focused. The horses really teach you to be quiet and move slowly though.

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  25. Dusty's dapples are absolutely stunning! I think it is rare for a horse to have dapples that extend from head to tail like hers.

    I love smart Quarter Horses, even with their challenges. Dusty really is a tough nut to crack. Those are the kinds of horses that makes us better riders.

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  26. I only hope she's making me a better rider either that or she's going to make me crazy :)

    When we first bought Dusty she didn't have dapples. After proper nutrition for a few months they just popped out one day. They seem to be more noticeable in the fall and winter months.

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  27. Beautiful, beautiful photos, as usual! Now about Dusty ... she is so FEMALE!
    Everything you describe could be a horse or my "once upon a time" teen-age daughter.

    How wonderful that you understand Dusty, anticipate her tricks and take the patience route. You are certainly my kind of horse person.

    P.S.
    I was reading through your helpful comments you wrote to me several years ago when I was going through hard times with Royal and with Joey, the rescue horse. I'm so grateful to have had such wonderful support! Thanks ever so much!!

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  28. Thanks Strawberry!

    I'm so glad that you are posting again and look forward to your updates on Royal and Joey.

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  29. She is smart. She'll probably always test you. You are doing great with her.

    I never put my horses in the actual stalls unless I have a reason to. They have run-in sheds in case the weather turns bad. I think it's the healthiest for them, mentally and physically.

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  30. I think the run in sheds are the healthiest way to go too. Some of ours do better inside than outside though. I basically let them decide when they want to come in. They usually do after a few nights out when they're tired or when the weather is bad.

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  31. SInce I am right with you on the cultivating patience lesson, I think it's fair to say that Silk and Dusty both know exactly how to push our buttons - that's what makes them such good teachers. But yes, it would be nice to just get on and have no drama. I think you've done a great job of working through her behavior with the perfect blend of firmness and patience. (there's that word again!) As for the deer leg, yuck! Stella and I ran into one on a walk in the woods and it haunted me for a long time. I was glad I saw it before the dog did and managed to steer her away quickly. I love living with all this nature, but deer legs that are detached from the deer - no thanks!

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    1. I'm not crazy about the deer parts either!

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  32. I love those photos of Dusty. They illustrate your post so well. She is certainly testing your patience. What a girl of spirit she is.

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    1. She does test my patience. She has an attitude for sure.

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  33. Truly Loved reading your inspirational experiences. I'm gearing up to go back to the arena . I'm hanging on the patience advise. Mine could kill me fast, but I've got to keep my cool.

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    1. Good luck going back into the arena with Wa mare. Everything takes time and patience. These mares really know how to push our buttons but keeping our cool is the best we can do to make them progress.

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  34. I'm loving reading your blog! This horse reminds me of the mustang I just started riding. I think its so cool how horses really never stop teaching us things!

    http://horseshoesandhearts.blogspot.com/

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  35. Thanks Marissa! Horses never stop teaching us and I think I still have a lot to learn.

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  36. Awesome photographs! And I love your funny captions! Wow, Dusty is so pretty, and your farm is lovely this time of year.

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  37. Hi Jan,

    Thanks for the compliments on the farm and Dusty. I think she knows she's pretty, hence the attitude.

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  38. Horses like people have their own personalities. Once you learn the horse, you can figure out the solution. Sounds like you have this mare figured out. Congratulations!

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It's so nice of you to take the time to visit. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting on what I've written. Even though I sometimes don't have the time to reply to each comment, I do enjoy reading them.