Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Attitude is Everything

SmartPak sends out more than just catalogs. They also send out a guide for horse care. This guide has little articles in it, most include why adding supplements to your horses feed is important, but sometimes they are just good common sense. In the winter 2011 issue there is an interesting article on attitude, "Attitude Do's and Don't". Read my blog for very long and you know how important attitude is to me. Attitude is everything!
The main points of the article are:
*Do focus on the ride, Don't focus on the result.
*Do challenge yourself, Don't get discouraged.
*Do plan ahead, Don't worry if things change.

Nothing Earth shattering there really. Sometimes hard to follow for sure, but most certainly doable.

On Monday I had to put these in to practice. Corrie was not her nice calm self. It was the "other" mare. I am not sure what to call Corrie's alter ego, but she most certainly has one. Oh yeah, that face looks it can give you tooth decay, but she can be spooky when she wants to be. Corrie has been under saddle for about 2 years now, and honestly she was broke to saddle and then more miles were put on her to drive, so her riding experience is rather limited. She has always been an outdoor horse for the most part too. Noises on the roof or outside the arena are scary. On Monday it was water dripping off the roof, normally Corrie is not that sensitive, but on Monday she was.

She started out just being a tad spooky, but it built up. That end of the arena was off limit according to Corrie. She made that point very clear by backing all the way across the arena, ignoring my leg the whole time. I love that completely out of control feeling, don't you? That feeling when your horse is not listening to anything you have to say. Yeah that is how the ride started out. After getting a little compliance from Corrie, I hopped off.

Let me take a moment here to just talk about my feelings. I was not scared. At least not scared of coming off. That thought did go through my mind and I was a little nervous about that but honestly not shaking in my boots like I would have been a year ago. I was more nervous that I would create a bigger problem. I knew that this was a very important moment in my relationship with Corrie. I would either be teaching her how to get out of work or reinforcing that we have a partnership and need to work through these problems together. That is why I hopped off and called Sensei.

I asked Sensei to come out to the barn; I love having my trainer on site! After being called on no brainer things, such as, why are you still riding in a rope halter when you know that your horse is having issues. Oops. He just said those things that I know but help to have someone call me on. Like relax, which I did as soon as he was in the arena; or at least relaxed some. The problem with getting nervous is that my brain stops functioning as well as it should. I forget some basic things like breathing. Or that it is important to focus on what you want not what you don't want.

Riding around the arena I was called on that right away. Sensei pointed out that both Corrie and I were riding around waiting for an explosion to occur. We, and by "we" I mean "I," needed to just ride her through our fear. I am the leader and she needs me to tell her that it is okay by just riding her like I expect her to respond like she normally does. Of course that sounds all sunshine and rainbows, which we know is not always the case.

The second thing Sensei reminded me to do is to have a "plan B." What would I do if she did spook. In this case, as I was riding her in figure 8's around the I would pick up on the side rein. NOT pull back with both which would she would, or could, just run through if she was really scared. Plan B would change as I moved around, not the actual plan, just which rein I would use. Having a plan helped me to relax also. I knew what I would do if my plan to just keep her moving and working normally failed.

The ride ended with her working nicely off my leg at the end of the arena that made her nervous. She was responding like I would expect her to, nothing that would an observer would point out as being a stellar ride. But the ride ended with a calm rider and a calm horse, working together and listening to each other. That was a good ride.


  1. Really good post! I struggle so much with my attitude. I look for the spook and Dee reads me like a book. Hopefully it will come with time. I really like the idea of a plan B. I imagine that way you'd feel more that you are always in control of the situation, no matter what it might be. Some really good ideas.

  2. I had a very spooky horse for fifteen years and always was aware the spook was in there so it was hard to relax. I did conquer my spookiness after a while but it wasn't easy.

    Glad you both wound up having a calm ride.

  3. Way to go, what an excellent arc you took yourself and Corrie through! Much to be proud of and hold on to.

    How about calling Corrie's alter-ego Carrie, after the Stephen King novel. Ha!

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  5. Great post! There are some lessons to be learned even for us. Very interesting. I'm glad Sensei was able to calm you and get you back on track. :)

  6. I love your blog! It really inspires me with my fear. Thanks!

  7. I read that little article in the catalog as well. That's always good advice, and I can't hear it too much.


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