Log 10, 09/24/2012
Remember back in the logs when I mentioned I took Raina out on a trail last winter and she was on 2 legs the whole way to woods?
I haven't taken her out since, save for that trail ride with my sister. She took Raina's best friend, Shaggy. And still, Raina was a mess of uncertainty. Since then, I've worked her in the arena and I feel we have gotten some good progress. Not great, but good. I struggled with the idea of taking her back out. Why? Basically fear. The way to the trails is up a gravel driveway with patches of old, broken up cement. Its up hill and the last time she reared on that, I was afraid she'd lose her balance and smash me into the cement.
I drove up to the barn today and caught Raina. I pushed her away from the herd and she ran herself like an idiot around the pasture for no reason. When she finally stopped, I caught her rather easily. I brought her down into the barn and she was challenging me every step of the way. She wouldn't move when I pressed on her hip, she wouldn't pick her feet up. She was being a general pain. I unhooked her from the wall and had a session with her about yeilding when I say yeild, and things were a little better.
The polo wraps kind of made me angry. She should have gotten used to them by now but everytime I go to wrap her hind legs, she picks her legs up and tries to move around. I got on to her about it today because I had to take the wraps off and redo them because she kept lifting her feet. After that little correction, she stood for it.
The BO was using the outside arena as a turn-out for the inside horses. If I'm allowed to have an opinion, I'd say that I hate that. I wasn't able to use the outside arena and the inside arena gets so dusty, even after you water it down. So I looked at Raina and said "Lets hit the trails, sister". It was now or never.
I trotted her around the inside arena for about 10 minutes to grab her attention. She neckreined like a dream and was sharp in the rollbacks, so I unlatched the gate and rode her out. We rode down the driveway and up the other one towards the trail. Past the field....we rode past the field! We RODE past the field! She didn't bulk, she didn't rear! I made sure my legs were right on her sides just in case, and I brought my whip with me...but I didn't need it. The last time I took her out alone, we reared and reared and reared. Today she walked right past the barn and field, and we headed into the woods.
We cantered up the first hill and I gave her the reins. She discovered the little target practice area for the neighbor (it had targets and a big plastic deer) and she was rather looky going past it, but we didn't have a problem. About 50 yards later I opened my little trail pouch (it had velcro) and we just about orbited the moon because of the noise. haha. That was her only spook though.
She wasn't confident, but she went along rather pleasantly. I didn't want to be out too long since it was her first trail alone since last winter (and that didn't go well). We bent through the trails and went up and down the hills. We walked, trotted and cantered. We finally came upon a log she didn't like the looks of and she tried to turn around. I got her back on track and we made it past it.
By this time, she was breathing pretty hard and I could tell she was just working herself up, so I got off and did some pretty normal stuff. I checked the saddle, made some adjustments, and then sat down and had a cigarette. Before long, Raina's wide eyes calmed and she hung her head next to me. I sat around for maybe 10 minutes until she was relaxed, and remounted.
The break did her some good. She was still alert but her walk was much slower. The break brought her back to me. We encountered a RANDOM bulldozer in the middle of the woods. Right smack dab in No Man's Land. She bulked but didn't turn around, and walked past it hesitantly. Up ahead, I noticed a gigantic green machine parked in the middle of the trail and thought "Oh dear god, she's not ready for that yet" so I turned her around. She hadn't seen it yet because it was dark green and blended it. We walked past the bulldozer again and finally followed the dog home (because she's a great GPS).
We made it home and everyone was pleasantly surprised to see that Raina had been on a trail alone. I guess she still has that "NightMare" name at the barn and will probably carry that reputation for a long time. They are still surprised she canters without bucking, and doesn't do have the stuff she used to. I'm not surprised, just happy with it.
We made it through the trail alone though, and nobody died...especially Raina. She was so sure she would, but she kept trucking on when she felt my leg.
I was very proud of her today