As usual in winter, Fiddle and I have been taking lessons.
|A lesson on one of the warmer, non-rainy days|
We had a big set-back a few weeks ago, and it was almost entirely my fault: instead of asking Fiddle to do something in the arena, I was ORDERING HER TO DO IT NOW. The whole thing turned into a spitting contest, and nobody ever really wins those things.
Sigh. I should know better. She really does TRY very hard for me, and when I get impatient it always takes longer. So, it was two steps backwards, and we regroup and try again.
The problem is that, although she's forgiven me for MY bad behavior and I've forgiven her for HER bad behavior, she still worries that I'm going to start spitting again, and she's defensive. And when Fee gets defensive, she gets nasty: she throws those back feet around, pins her ears...in other words, she exhibits all the bad behaviors I saw all the time when I first got her.
She never gave those up entirely, but she has learned other, better behaviors. And now the badness is back, and it's my fault and my responsibility to fix it (again).
I know (because I have been through the process with a lot of animals) that she will return to better behavior. I know that getting good behavior will be easier now than it was five years ago. I also know that my best option with this mare is to not react when she has a defensive tantrum, but instead to continue asking (not demanding and not punishing) her to move forward. When she's in her defensive mode, she can't listen to me very well, and the thing that works best is soft hands, soft legs, and a steady, calm, asking posture that makes "going forward" the easiest thing to do. She also gets lots of praise for doing things correctly and calmly.
|Dory coaches me on "opening my hips". Lisa is riding Guy in the background.|
One of the ways that I wanted to practice all this with her was to take her to our first dressage show! I've never showed with any horse, so this would be a new experience for both of us--good practice, I figured, in "being a beginner", since that's the audience I'm writing for in the Endurance 101 book.
(UPDATE ON THE ENDURANCE BOOK: the publisher who expressed interest is still on vacation, but I'm writing like a mad fiend anyhow. I hope to have at least half of that book in rough draft by the time she gets back in mid-February. Meanwhile, the proposal spawned from my other blog has been offered a book contract by VOYA Publishing. So I'm also frantically writing that, as well!)
It's been a long time since I've been a beginner at a horse sport. I've done what I've been doing for more than a decade now. I'm familiar with the process, and it's comfortable for me. I'm comfortable taking dressage lessons--I trust Dory to challenge us without facing us down impossible roads.
Dressage shows, by contrast, are completely new, and now I remember what starting out in endurance was like:
Did I fill in the form properly?
Did they receive my entry?
What if people are mean?
What if I do things wrong?
Oh yeah, NOW I remember all those emotions. Urgh. This really IS good practice for me.
So, I was all set to go to the show this morning: last night I set out my clothes, packed my lunch, hitched my trailer, and cleaned up my horse (and was glad that she's mud-colored, btw). I set my alarm for 5am and went to bed early....
And this morning, there was THIS:
|Swamplanders really don't like sn*w. |
Also, our roads become treacherous really quickly, because we don't have
good equipment to clear them properly.
I called the ride manager, and was pleased to learn that she isn't mean. She's nice! And she totally understood why I didn't want to drive my truck and trailer on icy roads. Apparently, a lot of people had already called her to cancel, but she was still nice to me...at 6:30am. That's impressive.
So now I have an entire day to write stuff on both books....
...but first, maybe I'll go back to bed. At least until the sun comes all the way up.
Life is (unpredictable) Good.