Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Curious progress

Well there's no question about it, Jazz is a different horse than she ever has been before.  Practically every day I'm at the farm now I can just ground tie her outside in the sun and groom her there while she dozes.  Her ground manners are almost all there, with occasional hiccups that are usually fixed with just a minute or two of ground exercises.

Things that are getting better #5 (remember when I used to actually remember to do these?)
Ground manners and more ground manners.  She could not be more chill ground tied for grooming most days now.

That being said, she isn't all different in good ways.  Jazz has always had evasions. It used to be laziness.  When I first started her, she was impossible to motivate.  I sometimes find that hard to believe considering how much she wants to go all the time now. Luckily, she isn't usually terribly stubborn, so she lets go of them as soon as I find an effective way to correct or deal with her evasions, that is until she finds a new one.  They usually aren't terribly big or showy (says the girl who's been sorting out her rearing on the ground within the last couple months), they're just little tests from her to see how she can get out of work.  Lately Jazz has been really improving, which naturally means stepping up the difficulty a bit and asking her to engage her muscles more and more correctly.  This naturally leads to a whole host of evasions, because it's much easier for her if she can derail me from our work by acting out, and she doesn't have to work so hard or engage her muscles so much.  She's a funny little mare with an attitude.

Recently it's been a bit of head tossing.  I think I've mentioned before that her main attitude issue, especially when it comes to contact, is to get huffy.  She just gets sort of frustrated, and starts snorting and moving her head a hundred tiny little moves in every direction at once.  I figure a small part of that is a pain memory from back in November when she needed her teeth done and it took me a week or so to realize it.  That being said, it is a lot just attitude.

Today was my first lesson with my new trainer.  I really like her, she's very good and I think she can really help me get places with my riding.  She seems to have a more English slant, compared to the more Western style of my previous trainer, but there is nothing wrong with that.  When I brought Jazz in, she was just as chill as she has usually been lately, and I was ready to get on soon.  We started out pretty standard, and the instructor had me doing 20m circles and working on going straight and bending to the inside and the outside.  Believe it or not, we had never done counter bending before, but Jazz seemed to be picking it up not bad.  Then we worked on it at the trot, and she also did fairly well.  We worked on trot to walk transitions, because the instructor wanted me to work on pushing her forward into walking, so that she would use her hind end to do the transition rather than pushing down into it with her front feet.  That was one thing that stood out to me as something that would be really good to work on, because traditionally, her trot to walk transitions have been kind of scrambly sometimes as she tries to keep trotting (she loves her forward).

Thing to work on #5
Trot to walk transitions

Thing to work on #6
Bending and counterbending using proper leg and hand positions.

That was when things got a little interesting.  The instructor asked to see Jazz's lope, and I started off on her right lead, traditionally her better side, and she did pretty okay.  Of course after that she was getting really rushy and kind of charge-y.

I rode yesterday, and she was really rushing.  She had almost no rate and wasn't listening to my half halts very well.  I decided to just bite the bullet and let her go, because I still felt like I had breaks, just not particularly sensitive ones.  Also I was feeling young and enjoying the summer sun and I don't really feel the need to justify it further.  Anyways I brought her into a lope that quickly turned into more of a gallop.  It was a blast.  She's pretty quick when she wants to be.  I let her go a couple laps of the arena and then slowed her back down, and we both took a rest for a minute or two.  I then made the mistake of deciding to take a lap or two the other way.  She is less balanced heading to the left on her left lead, and she made a fairly wide, leaning turn at the first corner, and just past the second she started crow hopping.  Whoops.  Maybe that wasn't such a good idea.  Anyways, I stuck it out with no problem (thank god.  I really need to make that post about Jazz the bucking bronco soon). And I did a cool down after that and hopped off, telling myself I wouldn't be stupid and push us like that again.  

So, back to today, she was really rushing her trot after her right lead lope.  Then she started counterbending against me and really cutting corners on our 20m circle, utterly ignoring my leg.  My trainer had me slow way down and move back to the walk, where she was still blowing all the way through my inside aids.  Then my trainer had me do a quick exercise that is basically stopping facing the wall and doing a hind end yield back and forth a couple times to re-establish that yes, you do know what leg means.  Then we worked our way back up, bending again at the walk to get her attention back.  Eventually we started trotting and then it got a little fancy.  Jazz was head tossing.  Not like she was before, though, like actually throwing her weight around and nodding like a trick horse.  It was lucky that it happened in the lesson actually, because the instructor was very helpful in keeping me calm and helping me focus.  She said how it was important, especially with a young horse like Jazz not to overreact to her little tantrums and to be extra sure to just keep doing the work as best I could so she's not getting out of it by acting out.  Not gonna lie, it was a little scary at least a couple times, and I was just doing my best to not picture Jazz rearing up and over like one of the horses at one of my gymkhanas last year.

Thing to work on #7
this newest evasion.

On the lighter side there's five new barn kittens and they finally all have their eyes open.  Here's the best picture I have of one of them.
Update: I have been really terrible at taking pictures of my horse lately.  I will hopefully take more soon.  With any luck I'll have something good to photograph coming up soon!


  1. Shy uses evasion tactics, too. It can be so frustrating!

    1. Yeah it can be tough sometimes, especially with something dangerous like rearing, but I like to try to think of it positively. If Jazz feels the need to avoid something, it obviously must feel like work, so it's something we clearly can work to improve.