Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bali: inside and out (of the ring)

This past weekend brought a LOT of time with Bali. I've ridden Isabel a couple times since graduating from the walking boot to a brace... but quite frankly I haven't felt a huge rush to get her going again. My few rides proved that she's still GOT IT, but that I most definitely do not.

I'm also not cleared for full capacity yet, and am not really pushing myself or riding super long. So the circumstances aren't ideal for truly legging her up again - instead it kinda just looks like muddling around (but yet I still have all these high expectations of her, so I become unhappy with the muddling). Rather than end up picking fights with her, I'm leaving her more or less in vacation-mode while I get *myself* back in shape with Bali.

not exactly the beautiful silhouette shot i was going for, bali. lol
I see the advantages here as two-fold: 1 - Bali's already more or less in shape and ready to go, but is way less schooled than Isabel. So a 20min ride of just pushing all the buttons has a highly positive impact on him in a way it does not on Izzy.

And 2 - I'm feeling pessimistic about Bali's job security, like he might be on borrowed time, and am therefore motivated to put as much work into him as possible to give him the best chances of either staying with us, or landing softly into a new home.

but work is sooo hard :(
So anyway, Bali and I have been getting a lot of ring time together. Including a couple schools last week, when he was fabulous on Monday (as written about here) and maybe sliiiiiiiightly more quarrelsome on Friday. Nothing terrible, but he needed more correction than he had on Monday.

I had planned to ride him Thursday too, but his lease rider was there, a better solution anyway, and I got to watch them go for a little bit and share some hints that work for me. She's doing a really nice job with him, particularly in getting him going forward off her leg. The next steps for her will be to expect more from him, particularly with regard to inside bend.

so relaxed and quiet out of the ring
Then when I arrived on Saturday morning, I learned that he had just been a total turd in a lesson with an advanced young rider who used to lease him. Complete with kicking out and bucking. Not cool, bro. Tho it was a windy cold day and actually another horse in the arena was misbehaving way worse, so at least he wasn't #1 on the shit list haha.

tentative but happy
And actually it was kinda funny - when the barn moms (we have pretty much the coolest barn moms ever, btw) saw me going to bring him in not very long after he had been turned out they very strongly recommended against me riding him bc he had been so bad. Lol.

Meanwhile I'm thinking - "These are exactly the circumstances in which I want to ride him, when he's being naughty and I can correct it." It also told me something important in how I've been approaching his schooling. Bali never gets as far into his histrionics with me as he does with the students bc I feel it happening sooner and can correct it early.

homeward bound!
My corrections also tend to be scaled to the level of his disobedience. Meaning, in most cases, they're not very strong corrections bc he never gets very far. The idea here is to not dwell, to not make a big deal out of anything, and to not distract from the fact that I'm asking for something and would like him to get to it promptly, thankyouverymuch.

But now I'm thinking this is actually doing him a disservice in the long run. My new idea is to scale my correction to the naughty-level that he would reach with a student who might not feel the early stages of his tantrum. So that I can shut down that tantrum in a BIGGER way - and make it abundantly clear that even that brief moment of sucking back and saying 'no' is not acceptable.

wick and bali #bffs4eva
And theoretically, he'll stop even going there. Maybe. Hopefully. Idk. Anyway, that ride went perfectly fine. I shut him down a couple times for lesser offenses than I would have even the night before, and he acquiesced nicely. The biggest tool in preventing his shenanigans in the first place is inside bend (even if it's not as correct through his body as it should be).

So we focused a lot on that, with many changes of direction and serpentines. He had some straight up LOVELY moments at trot where he actually connected on the bit for a few steps and yielded his shoulders when I asked. Good boy. We finished with a quick solo trail ride around the fence lines and through the jump trail (where I trotted one of the tinier jumps bc how can you resist?).

bali is soooo much slower than wick, who is himself so much slower than isabel haha
Sunday brought more of the same. A quick school in the arena focusing on the same ideas. I think I swatted him with the dressage whip once, maybe, but really he was quite good. We worked again on figures with as correct of a bend as I can get from him. Circles, changes of rein on the diagonal and through half turns, and also lots of simple changes of lead, again and again and again.

Bali was very good - he's definitely trying hard, and appreciates leadership and having a clear understanding of what behavior is rewarded. Plus he's such a physical ride, in that he responds really well to my thigh and knee and core that it's really forcing me to be as correct as possible myself, and therefore get into shape faster.

over hill and dale (and electrical field lol)
Then Brita and I hit the trails. And it was LOVELY. A beautiful sunny day, the most mildest of breezes, with two happy friendly OTTBs putzing along through the woods. Bali is sooooo quiet on the trails. It's such a change from Isabel's lively and electric marching pace haha. Usually Izzy and I are miles ahead of everyone else, but Bali prefers to lag behind.

We tried to put him in front a couple times but he wasn't very happy there - way more tentative and wanting to nap back and get Wick in front of him again. Eh, that's an issue I might press at a later date, but for this ride I just wanted him happy.

And he was so good. Up and down hills, through all the streams (from which he drank deeply each time, good boy), out through the open fields... and even over all the jumps on the jump trail bc jumping in the woods on a 5yr old in a dressage saddle with a recovering broken leg is highly advisable lol.

the woods are so pretty in winter!
If nothing else, maybe we can find Bali a happy home as a quiet trail horse? Unless one of you out there wants to spot me the cash for his board and keep so I can have him all to myself ;)

42 comments:

  1. Sounds like even if he flunks out as a lesson horse he would make someone a lovely trail horse!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think so! honestly everything i do with him at this point is with his 'sale ad' in mind, like 'what kinds of positives can we use to describe him?'

      Delete
  2. Oh Bali...my heart hurts every time he pulls shenanigans with the girls. Hopefully he can land somewhere nice because he sounds like he wants to be a one person horse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i definitely don't like it when he's naughty.... tho i actually think he would do just fine as a lesson horse rather than a one person horse. it's just gotta be with a program that has enough advanced students to create demand for trickier horses

      Delete
  3. If i had the funds I'd wire them to you asap, you two sound like a fun partnership.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thanks! i wish it were that easy lol

      Delete
  4. Beautiful looking trails! I hope Bali can end up somewhere nice - he seems like an excellent horse, if only a tiny bit naughty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea he really is pretty cool and SO FUN omg. you just have to be comfortable enough as a rider to work through that naughtiness

      Delete
  5. Maybe he just wants his own person? Hopefully he lands somewhere nice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think most horses would love just one person, but i'm not totally convinced that's his future. and i think he's actually got a lot of assets for a lesson program. he's just not that broke yet

      Delete
  6. You're trying hard to put a solid foundation on him and I think your plan is pretty good. Unfortunately, he may be fundamentally unsuited to a lesson program -- not every horse is a good lesson horse -- but a solid foundation will give him the best chance for a soft landing elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yerp. i've known quite a few horses that either were not suited for a lesson program, or simply did not and would not do the job. fortunately i don't see that same problem with Bali - he's got a lot of qualities that make him a good lesson horse, and has done well with a variety of riders. but he tests each rider to see how far he can go. our program really caters to beginners and intermediate riders, with very few truly advanced students, which is part of why he doesn't get used as often as he might elsewhere

      Delete
  7. You are a good soul. Hope all works out. he might need a real CTJ meeting. Nothing over the top, obvi. When I started with a pony, she would buck off the school kids. So I got on her. And she would straight up throw herself up into the air and buck in air. Do hand stands and almost caught my friend on a 17h horse in the eye with a hoof. So every time she did that I would whack her little butt with my whip. Not abusively but in a corrective 'we don't do that kinda thing' way. At first she would buck more, but she got spanked more. Gradually she learned that bucks begot spanking. So she stopped.

    Now I don't think this is a solution for any and every bucker, ( I know some buck out of fear and shouldn't be reprimanded). But has Bali been reprimanded for his kicking, or made to go fwd and work? He sounds so ring sour.

    Any way, good luck. ♡♡♡

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! that's pretty much exactly what i'm working on. i hadn't really gone the CTJ route previously bc that's typically not my first defense - i prefer to start with the approach of 'ignore it and see if it goes away.' works with some horses, does not appear to be doing the trick for bali.

      that said tho, bali is *always* made to go forward and work when he kicks out. or rather, his students are always directed to do that. sometimes unfortunately he manages to unnerve the kids and they back off. he doesn't have that luxury with me, tho i'm also trying to address the sourness from a few different directions (like trail riding!). we'll see!

      Delete
    2. I agree, not my first reaction either. If only he knew poor guy! Stop being a turd!!

      Delete
    3. ugh i know, right? i wish i could just grab him by his fuzzy ears and shake him and say "Bali this is a stupid reason to lose a good home! Straighten up and fly straight, young man!"

      Delete
  8. I think you need to get Bali ;) Just sayin'! You obviously click ;) and that's worth it's weight in gold! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ugh my heart agrees with you and goes pitter-pattering away at even just the thought. the moths that fly out of my wallet when i open it suggest otherwise tho :'(

      Delete
  9. Is it possible to lease the sweet little turd? (I know you said someone else is leasing him - I don't know much about the ins and outs of leasing). I bet in a year he will be a great lesson horse after serious time at work with someone experienced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i've considered it - but the finances aren't really there, esp since i'm keeping my lease on isabel. probably tho, if i *did* go the route of paying for part of his care, i'd rather do it through ownership and lease him out myself so that i could be in charge of his management. again tho, the money just isn't there...

      Delete
  10. awww he's so cute! if he doesn't stay there i hope he gets a good home. he seems like he really wants to make you happy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i hope so too. hopefully he'll eventually turn into a horse that always wants to please! he definitely likes being a 'good boy' and is just so much fun to ride and be around...

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. thanks - hopefully he gets with the program asap!

      Delete
  12. Im glad someone is taking him under his wing :) Hes a diamond in the rough and its exactly how he came to Graham...hes just lacking time and patience that is much needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha in the *very* rough... but seriously i think he's a pretty special horse that will develop really nicely with time. too bad 'time' might be in short order...

      Delete
  13. He's so damn cute! Smarten up Bali you've got a good thing there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man he's seriously the cutest!!! i just wish he would use those powers for good not evil!

      Delete
  14. This is a very interesting conundrum. I don't know Bali, obviously, but I do know another very smart horse who pulled all kinds of bullshit tactics on a gaggle of teenagers until he had defeated every one of them... except the twelve year old. (Seriously, on the working student chores list "RIDE MURRAY" was all caps, starred three times, and underlined for six weeks over the summer of 2013.)

    The thing with this particular very smart thoroughbred is that one person fixing the problem doesn't fix the problem for everyone. It fixes the problem for that one person. So guess who can tack up my horse without mishap? Me and our barn manager. Other people can usually do it one time before Murray is like "oh fuck THAT SHIT, don't respect you." Of course, there have been times when bullshit was fixed by one person -- think the bucking garbage circa April 2014 -- but I had to back that up with a minor rodeo of my own after that ride.

    My point here is that Bali knows the difference between you and the kids too well, and knows that even if you back him down, they will not. And even if he doesn't know that difference immediately, the kids who ride him may fail to correct him at the times you do and then he will figure it out over a few rides.

    Keep me updated (or email me for more thoughts if you want?). It's quite the conundrum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's not great that he tests each rider and pushes his boundaries... but i don’t believe that horses who know that difference and exploit it will always be like that. i see it as a typically fixable training issue. how fixable it is depends on the horse.

      and i feel solid about bali - he's very trainable, esp compared to other horses i’ve gotten going in lesson programs. he learns quickly and rarely makes the same mistake twice. plus he's ultimately a very lazy horse. with consistency, he’ll learn that his shenanigans require too much energy and work too infrequently to be worth it.

      the key here tho is consistency - something bali has never really had. he's had time off for his own reasons, then more time off when i got sidelined…

      but he has major advantages working for him: he is a FUN ride, especially to jump. soooo fun omg. he’s sensitive, easy to steer, not spooky, travels like a pro, and is dead quiet. he’s just melodramatic. half the battle is convincing the kids to ignore that part and just keep riding dammit lol

      Delete
    2. Ginger currently has that working student list...it started out as 'who wants to ride Ginger?' now it's just RIDE GINGER! lol. She's another who tests everyone new, but lots of different people riding her with consistnet expectations are making a difference and she's now behaving for people other than coach and me.

      Delete
    3. that's great news!! i'm such a huge believer in consistency... tho obvi different horses need different timelines. my fingers are crossed that bali figures things out sooner rather than later like Ginger!

      Delete
    4. Your positive outlook is honestly way more productive than mine! And I really do hope that Bali can come to appreciate his new lifestyle -- he is quite young, right? -- and enjoy the perks of being a doted-upon and favored lesson horse!

      Delete
    5. ha 'productive' or 'delusional', pick your poison ;) and yes bali is only 5 and is quite tractable already. i am 100% sure that he could become a solid citizen for the program in time. i'm just not sure how much time he will actually have...

      Delete
  15. Awww I love Bali's fuzzy neck! I hope he stays with you guys or finds the perfect home if he has to. I enjoy reading about his progress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he is soooooo fuzzy haha i love it too. i hope he stays with us too!!

      Delete
  16. He does sound like he would be a great trail horse. It's great you've done so much to improve his manners under saddle :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think he'll make a fabulous all-round horse. and his jumping.... ahhh he's just so insanely talented at it!

      Delete