Thursday, October 6, 2016

arena ugly

Oh, that was not pretty.

Not every ride goes as planned. And certainly not our last (and only) arena practice of the year. I somehow had the great idea that I would attend the local show this coming weekend and do the basic Trail class. It actually isn't an arena trail class (thank goodness) but takes place on the small trail behind the horseman's arena, with many of the same type of obstacles.

waiting for obstacles to be set up

mmm, a leaf!

So I should practice, right? Now I actually do practice on trail, backing and sidepassing, turning on the hindquarters, etc. But maybe we needed some refinement, and obstacles! I was enthusiastic.

I set up a tarp and cardboard to walk over. And an L to back and barrels to work. A pole to sidepass over. Friend C was also up for the challenge. She set up a flour line and box, scary bags on the fence. We had umbrellas, buckets, things to drag, it was good.

On a positive note: Major will walk over and through anything. Tarps, cardboard, no problem. He did put his nose down at the flour line…and tried to eat it! Dragging the feed pan was scary at first, then just fine, same with the yellow toy bucket filled with sand.

non-scary flour line

flour nose, not tasty

Now for the ugly. For a horse that will easily move from one side of a wide trail to the other with just light leg pressure, sidepasing in the arena was impossible. Major couldn't possibly remember to move off my leg. With encouragement (dressage whip) that improved. Briefly. C was also quite frustrated with her horse Friday.

Major's attitude wasn't quite "I don't remember how to do that." Instead it was "F* you, I don't WANT to do that!" So we'd work something, then take a break. I'd set him up for success (first, just take one step sideways) which was met with head flinging, backing nonsense. Correct response, we'd move on. It did get better, but showed a big hole in our training.

Standard backing was better, though not pretty, working on straightness is very necessary! And not continuing to back when all pressure is off. And not plowing through obstacles. Oh my.

We also trotted and cantered, that was fine. We went back out of the arena to give the horses a mental break, Major opening the gate perfectly. We practiced out on the road, again, both horses were very good, nothing like their behavior in the arena. Arghh!. Then we went back into the arena. And Major refused to sidepass over to close the gate. He was saying no more practice, let's go on the trail! But he doesn't get to decide that. We had not been practicing that long, and he was fine outside of the arena. Sigh.

Ok, totally my fault for not ever practicing in the arena. And just because we did this great a few years ago doesn't mean Major remembers. Though he still knows things like leg, sidepass and backing, and should remember to MOVE OVER when asked and not behave like an a** in general. Being in a sandy arena versus a forested trail should not make a difference on that.

So we will practice some more. And still go to the show. Because we can learn from every experience. I already learned that we need to practice these rusty skills. I'm figuring did not place in a show is better than did not try!

I'll fit in another practice arena ride and a fun ride before the show. I'm pretty sure our fun ride will be doing all the trail challenges, but in the forest! I'll return with the event debacle details and results next week…


  1. Oh boy can I relate. Can't wait to hear how the show goes...:)

    1. Yeah, it's a bit embarrassing, but I blog it all!

  2. I admire Major for showing his own will. I went through this with my two geldings, they are great and sensitive, but not in the arena. Happy and confident horse your Major!

    1. I too, am glad Major can think for himself, especailly out on the trail. However, I don't especially appreciate his bad attitude when I'm not asking for anything too difficult or dangerous. I guess it is all a compromise, so sometimes I listen to him, and sometimes he has to listen to me!

  3. Ah, I hope you don't get me wrong! It's just that a confident horse which shows his will in a sympathetic way is so marvelous and says a lot about your relationship! I don't know so many horses who are allowed or even try to show her will. I mean they communicate, or?

  4. I haven't done any showing since my daughter was a teen. But when we did it was certainly interesting. We both trained her Arab gelding from a problem child to a winner and then retired him when he said no I have had enough. She still has him 28 years old now.

    1. That is very cool. This show is super low-key, lots of kids and people having fun, unusual classes and such. Much better for us!

  5. Yes," Dead last finish is better than did not finish, which is better than did not start, which is better than did not enter"! Can't wait to read your account of the event debacle, er, details!

  6. I know the 'F you don't wanna' too well! Geldings!