Monday, September 28, 2015

challenging conditions for baby Bali

This weekend was a tough one for good ol' Bali boy. And maybe for me too lol. He is very rapidly reminding me of all the little things I've forgotten about green horses, as it's been years since I rode one regularly. Just normal things - like topics other bloggers post about regularly, such as inconsistency from day to day and regressing after a day or two too many off work.

at least it's dark enough that you can't tell that my reins and bridle are two different colors
My first four rides on him happened on four days in a row and I was (and remain!) super impressed with how well he improved from one ride to the next. Then he had two days off and... well... reverted right back to his ride 2 self. Which I guess makes sense because he's been a riding horse for a couple months now - his bad habits weren't ingrained in 4 rides and it will take more than 4 rides to smooth him back out again.

baby is distinctly unimpressed. cannot possibly work under these conditions.
Plus the circumstances were tough. I missed a bit of riding through the week, and then we had a 'Ride & Wine' event at the barn, complete with live music, a fire, and many many twinkling lights - all down in the main arena. I got Bali down the hill and almost to the gate (with lots of trepidation and snorting) before deciding that was enough for baby and heading back up to the small 'dressage court' currently in use by bio-mechanics lessons.

there be shenanigans ahead
The riding space is tiny - just smaller than a regulation short court - with hard footing that prompted a lot of tripping in Mr Unbalanced. Plus with another rider already using the space for a lesson... well... It didn't give us a ton of room. And Bali was kinda not very cooperative.

I could *not* get a nice walk out of him for more than a few steps, and a nice trot was absolutely out of the question. Upward transitions continued to be sticky as well. I spent maybe 35-40 minutes all told - long enough for him to submit to the work and drop the idea of exploding, but not long enough for him to actually, ya know, work. Just not sure it was gonna happen that night.

view down the hill toward the party
So despite being pretty tired after my lesson on Saturday (details to come!), I made sure to hop in the tack again, knowing he'd have yesterday off as well. And I'm glad I did. Bali boy was full of it haha. It'd be an exaggeration to say he had murder on his mind... but, well, it certainly wasn't kittens and rainbows that he was thinking about either lol.

this horse has a lot of problems. bein cute ain't one of them tho!
Plus, again with the challenging conditions, the barn manager was setting up for a movie night at the barn and it was cool and windy out. And Bali was still pretty sure that all the party-goers from the previous evening's event might still be lurking around the arena - maybe under that JACKET. Ahh!!! Or, behind all those neatly hanging HELMETS OMG!!!! Plus some deer scampered away behind our backs, a very understandable spook I suppose... but still. Bali was taking any excuse.

'i'm gonna lick you. and then put my teeef on you' - bali
So when the BM told me she'd be inflating the projector screen in about 15 minutes, I made it my business to be FINISHED riding by then lol. And Bali was.... just ok. Honestly I probably need to push for a little more from him. He gets so busy snaking his head around in every direction, and I've been pretty focused on just riding his body and not his head -- but it's kinda all evasive garbage and he's gonna be expected to travel in a straight and balanced line.

'mmmmm lick alllll thethings' - bali
The trot work actually wasn't terrible - the extra space of the main arena gave me more room to push him forward a bit and he more or less acquiesced. So we went into the tricky left lead canter fairly soon into the ride. Oh Bali... I swear, all I wanted was a few balanced and measured strides and then I would have dropped it - honest!

But Bali was having none of it. Right when I'd be ready to reward some good steps by transitioning down to trot, he'd pop a very exuberant lead change and try to bolt. Meaning: reorganize, depart again on correct lead, and continue until we reached a nice canter..... at which point he'd pop another change. Finally we got what was actually quite a nice canter (relatively speaking) when I put him on a small circle and kept him there. Good(ish) boy.

ugh that mouth tho :(
Right lead was much easier - esp since he was already a little tired. We were even able to do full laps of the arena including the long sides with minimal interpretative dance moves a la Bali. Transitioned down to trot and stayed there - quite nicely again - and popped over a cross rail. Beautifully. He trotted up to it evenly and in balance, landed in an equally balanced canter, and brought his own self back down to trot in a couple strides. Goooooood boy!

Pointed him at another cross rail and got the same result, tho I asked him to stay in canter and aimed him at a vertical. All small stuff - but he just stayed so steady and jumped it very very politely and stayed straight and balanced on landing. At which point I got him back to the rail, back to trot, then walk then halt and hopped right off and told him what a good little horsie he is.

he is just too stinkin sweet!!
Silly guy. I guess he just needs something to focus on? Like, maybe I was right in saying that all the arena traffic from last week's ride helped keep him tuned in. As soon as I pointed him at jumps he just quieted down and settled. But when we're just out on the rail or circling about he gets so fussy and busy fighting with me.

Will have to think a little bit about what this means for my approach with him - tho it's good to know that he gets better when there's more for him to think about!!

18 comments:

  1. What a silly boy! He's lucky to have you.

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  2. Oh he is cute! I like to throw ground poles in spots along the rail, particularly in spooky or looky areas. Sometimes just the slight distraction of a ground pole can help along with lots of leg support and bending questions on the long sides, like five steps inside bend, five steps counter bend, etc. Have fun with him!

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    1. that's a great idea - and i think we will be utilizing ground poles much more often. there's such a big difference in him when he's focusing on something else (besides being cranky that i'm asking him to GO lol) and i want that better feeling to really be ingrained in his muscle memory

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  3. Free pass on some of the naughty stuff for just being so cute :) Honestly though the ground pole idea worked to help keep my little mare focused, along with baby lateral work and lots of transitions. Anything to keep them busy and thinking!

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    1. i haven't even touched lateral work with him yet, since he's so not-broke to the leg (and a bit resentful about it lol) but who knows, maybe he'll love it? lots of transitions DO seem to help him tho, provided i can actually ride them correctly haha

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  4. Awww Bali! Maybe all the commotion at your barn will help eventually desensitize him...though it's certainly rough going at first! (Side note: your barn sounds super awesome with all these events!)

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    1. haha we do like to have a little fun! and he's actually not very spooky at all - but i think taking him so close to the party was just a little too much for him (he is 4, after all). it's all good experience tho, in the long run

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  5. So frustrating! Hope your next ride is better.

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    1. thanks! i think it will be. honestly i feel like we're still figuring each other out - so even when things go south it's still good for me to see how he handles himself

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  6. Haha yeah, just sounds green. Might not be so much what he's focusing on as it is what you're focusing on. ;-) Just a thought.

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    1. hm, that's entirely possible! i guess it ultimately works out to the same thing - two sides of the same coin. good food for thought tho!

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  7. Oh baby thoroughbred. Or, really, just smart horse. The advice I've gotten from trainers is to keep them busy. Lots of circles, lateral work, transitions, changes of direction. Let them do whatever you've asked well for a stride or two, then change. The reward is the stride or two of not getting f'd with. Then before they get bored, it's off to shoulder fore or a 20m circle or whatever.

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    1. we've been doing lots of circles, transitions and changes of direction. haven't introduced lateral work bc he's so not-broke to the leg, but perhaps we should just go for it whatever. love the idea of giving them a stride or two to get the answer right, and another stride or two of being left alone, and then changing topics again.

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  8. so glad he has someone paying some attention to him :) I hopped on him sunday so hopefully can help keep him going a bit more. He really does need more acceptance of leg...poor guy really protests ANY leg at all right now making doing anything right, really a challenge.

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    1. haha seriously! glad to hear he worked on sunday too - really he could work every day and it would only help! (also, i recommend carrying a dressage whip with him every time, always. even for jumping! and i plan on adding baby spurs to the mix too. somehow i don't think my constant nudging and prodding is helping the case for 'leg = go')

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