Wednesday, February 7, 2024

What's Up Wednesday


We actually had a pretty lovely week/weekend around here. The horses have all been so good, even Al!

Obviously, some days are better than others, but of course, that's horses, right? Overall, he's really been a good boy. We had two lessons this past week, one Thursday and one on Saturday. I chose to switch Al into Shiny's usual lessons so that he can ride with friends, but also while the ring isn't busy with non lessons. He likes to have buddies, but can lose focus and get anxious when there's too much chaos. 
I'm still struggling a little in my head with allowing myself to avoid Al's triggers. I grew up being taught that we don't let horses get away with "bad" behavior. If they're afraid of something, you make them face it. If your horse doesn't like a busy ring, you ride your horse when it's busiest until he learns to like it. After all, horse shows are busy places. If you can't handle it at home, how will you away? But I've never had a horse quite like Al. So I'm trying very hard to listen to him. To work with him instead of against him. And just figure out how to make our rides successful. I also still strongly believe that very few of these behaviors we're working through will translate to horse shows. Both times we competed last summer he was very excited to be there and do his job. 
So all that said, we're still only jumping fences that are set at the non scary end of the ring. So courses are short and full of roll backs... Fortunately, Al enjoys a good roll back. There's a new course in the ring for this week, that seems pretty Al friendly though, so we might (maybe, possibly) be able to venture a little further around the ring and put together a longer course. We shall see. He lessons tomorrow. 

Shiny had a great week too! She also had two lessons, the same days as Al. (Which is a little exhausting for their rider!) Her lessons have been privates which is fun because we get to jump more. Which Shiny also thinks is super fun. I can't say enough about how nicely she's going. She's looking for the contact and wants me to just keep a steady soft feel rather than constantly having to remind her about the contact. And to the jumps? I have to whoa! She's so gung-ho. It's ridiculously fun. I think she's really feeling good these days which is so wonderful to see and feel. I caved and had her clipped again this week too. She was SO HAIRY and it's been fairly warmish so it was taking half the day for her dry after our rides. Nobody wants to spend all day soggy and waiting for grooming. So now she's clipped, and we're both much happier. 

Eros is still living his best life, taking afternoon walkies, morning turnouts, and daily mud packs. He had a little bit of a rough weekend. I found him Saturday very stocked up behind. I couldn't find a source. I scrubbed the legs, no cuts. They weren't so stocked up that I suspected cellulitis, especially since it was both hinds. So we did our walk, and then I iced him and wrapped him up. His temp was normal and he was acting just fine otherwise, so I didn't feel like I needed to bother the vet on a weekend. Figured I'd see what I had on Sunday. By Sunday they were down considerably. Still a little thick, but nothing like the day before. So we did the same routine. Walked, iced, wrapped. I didn't see him Monday since the barn is closed, but by Tuesday he was back to normal. The don't know for sure, but I suspect it's related to his hives and his mild intolerance to whatever is in this batch of shavings. Looks like this load is just about used up, so hopefully he'll be bump free and back to normal once the new shavings arrive.

And that's about it from here this week. How about you all? Horses good? Getting some lessons in?


  1. Carmen taught to work within her comfort zone and then slowly expand it. It’s tricky because you can’t stay there forever but you need to not overwhelm. I will also say that simply forcing a horse to do something doesn’t teach them to like it. It just teaches them that it doesn’t matter what they feel.

    1. This is all so true! I've been pushing different buttons for short amounts of time each ride, and expanding our ring size here and there. Testing the waters. And he really seems to be responding well. So while it's slow going, I do think he's moving forward. And when he tells me he's overwhelmed I take a step back and we revisit later.
      That is a good point about their feelings. I keep telling Al he's allowed to feel his feelings, but we are working on controlling his reactions to those feelings. He doesn't speak English, so I'm not sure he knows what I'm saying... but he seems reassured.

  2. i definitely appreciate the philosophy of working on the weaknesses and facing the hard stuff... but i'm also a big believer that making it "easy" for the horse to be good usually results in... horses who have an easier time being good. balance (and empathy) in everything, i suppose. glad the horses are all doing well!

    1. Yes! This exactly. We need to do the hard and scary things, but we can break them down into smaller, slightly less scary things. And eventually we conquer the big scary. Just a little at a time. And for Al, that seems to be the key.