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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Meltdown Part 4

Lesson 2: No more "working her through it"

On our first ride back all I was doing was pushing buttons to see what worked after 2 weeks and what didn't. When I got to the canter, I got greedy.

Since we are here we may as well work it right? WRONG.

A little flexion and a little inside leg. She got rushy and tense, I asked more firmly, she responded by getting more tense. I finally got what I wanted, but it wasn't worth the price. She was just was a bit tense and rushy for the rest of the session.

It's very easy to push Farley for too much too soon. She's so willing and she's so athletic. Once I ask, I feel like then I'm "in it" until the end result is achieved.

Don't get me wrong - I think it's very important that once you are in the middle of a lesson you have to get to a point where you both win. The horse can't resist and you respond by throwing up your hands and going "oh well!". Not going to work.

But, what I can do is carefully chose when I push her.
  • Don't do it too often.
  • Don't do it too long.
  • Achieve only very baby steps in those areas where I know she was resistance issues (like cantering).
  • Use lots of positive reinforcement.
  • Do special short, focused sessions on the problem areas, don't mix it with her regular work for now.
  • If during a regular training session I want to incorporate something where we have an issue (such as a canter), take what she offers and don't "mess" with it too much. There will be time for that later when we are both fresh and I can focus on those baby steps in our special sessions

I think what this will do is keep each session from turning into a battle that leaves both of us stressed and tense. We WILL have to work through the issues, but I think we can do that BETTER if I set aside time for doing so and leaving it alone the rest of the time. That way both of us can enjoy the majority of our sessions together.

Hopefully following both of these "lessons learned" I will be able to reduce the frequency and severity of the meltdowns and we both have fun on a regular basis. After all - that is what this relationship is based on - mutual respect and the joy of just getting out there and riding!


  1. The controlled canter (in an enclosed area such as an arena) continues to allude me...I'll be watching and waiting for tips and cues as your process continues. ~E.G.

  2. Good for you!

    Please keep us posted about the progress...I always have these kinds of goals, but sticking to them is a real challenge for me!


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