Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Victory By Inches

(Photo: Quincy-Cia before our lesson.  There's a little attitude in those eyes.  It took 30 minutes of ground work to soften.)


Working with my green horse, Quincy-Cia, is so much fun!!  It's pushing me out of my comfort zone in a good way.  In fact, and this is true, I say a little prayer every time I haul to a lesson that we will both come out on the other side safe and with a closer relationship.  


From the moment of catching, loading and hauling to the saddling, round pen work, and riding lesson--the unexpected is the expected, but, to this point, the expected unexpected hasn't happened--only the unexpected-what-you'd-expect.  And so, I fall deeper and deeper into trust with Quincy-Cia every day.  

Yesterday, we worked on two things: going forward with a relaxed head set and turns.

Relaxed head: The first day of lessons my instructors asked me, "What do you want to do with this horse?"  My answer to both of them was, "Ride the trails."  Everything we've done since has been with that in mind.  Regina, yesterday's instructor, was interested in helping me find out where Quincy-Cia naturally carries her head in an extended walk.  Once we found that, it became our goal.  If she went anywhere else, I gathered up my reins and resumed contact in the bit until she relaxed back into the natural headset, and then I released.  The progress she made in one week, on this point, was monumental.  For most of the lesson, I was able to ride on a slack rein.

Turning By Inches: My instructor pointed out last week that I have 3 points of contact--mouth (reins), seat, and legs, and she asked which I thought I used most.  I answered, "Reins."  Bingo!  I was right.  She told me to quiet my reins so Quincy could hear my other points of contact, and it worked.  But yesterday, I went back to loud reins.  She asked me to turn her and I pulled her around to the right.  Quincy's energy shot up from a 2 to a 7.5.  I had to bring her to a halt in a one rein stop.  Regina asked me to try something different.  She said, "Pretend like you're picking stems off a cherry and gather your rein up one inch at a time until she responds.  At that point, just hold it.  Don't pull back.  See what she does."  

It was hard for me to switch from the "Whoa, Nelly!" style of reining I was using to the gentle suggestion Regina was talking about, but I did.  What I got was beautiful turns that kept her energy at 2--the level at which I'm most comfortable, and she's most happy.  Turning, turning, walking, walking--it was beautiful and so counter-intuitive!

Our next lesson is Friday.  

P.S. I have a big decision to make.  Winter is coming! (And, not only in Game of Thrones)  I can't haul in ice and snow--it's dangerous.  I have to decide if I'm going to board Quincy-Cia at the barn where I take lessons.  I love the social, horsey atmosphere and the indoor arena, but I hate having my horse away from me.  I like to look out my window and see them.  There will be days I won't be able to make it to the barn, if she's boarded, but my trainer will ride her on the days I can't--giving her more consistency.  

Suggestions?

And, here's my new favorite picture of my boy, Cowboy, and me on last week's trail ride.  I wondered if my heart was big enough to accommodate another horse relationship and still love my Cowboy--it is.




15 comments:

  1. You wrote:
    "I fall deeper and deeper into trust with Quincy-Cia every day."
    Gosh, I just love how you've phrased this so perfectly. It expresses so clearly the confidence & satisfaction of slowly building that partnership bond 'brick by brick'. I'm certain that the way you are approaching & working through the steps without rushing is making Quincy fall deeper into trust with you every day as well - I'm so happy for the two of you.

    You wrote:
    "I wondered if my heart was big enough to accommodate another horse relationship and still love my Cowboy--it is."
    I've had this concern a time or two; most memorably, my husband & I wondered this very thing as we considered whether or not to have a second child (we did & of course both children are the lights of our lives).
    What a joy to learn & relearn over & over again throughout our lives that the human heart has infinite capacity to love!

    I get that you like having your horses home - seeing my little band of 3 just outside is one of my greatest pleasures too.
    Maybe it boils down to whether you want to continue on the path now or take a break for winter? I don't think there's a wrong answer. You enjoy the boarding barn atmosphere, perhaps having Quincy there for a few months will just ensure that you keep riding consistently over the winter, and you have your trainer for back-up which is such a lucky plus.
    It seems like a win/win; you're doing so well with Quincy that (if it were me) I'd probably want to keep it up just because it's so emotionally rewarding. However, I'm also sure that you could pick up where you left off again come Springtime if you do decide to keep her home.

    Btw, what a nice autumn photo of you & Cowboy. :-)

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    1. I hope you're right about Quincy falling deeper into trust with me, too. That would make me happy. She doesn't run away when I go to get her, so I'm hoping that's a sign she kind of likes it. What you say about the barn is probably right. If I don't do it, it will probably mean no lessons through winter. I don't think I can give them up and wait until spring.

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  2. Hey Linda I hope you're doing well! You seem to be doing well with Cia. I'm going to be doing some rides in November at Riverside. I hope to ride with you again someday. I am doing great with the new horse. Oh this is Alexa. I posted on my blog for the first time in a few years.

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    1. Hi Alexa. I'm glad you're getting some rides in on the new horse. Winter is just around the corner, but it's supposed to be a mild one. Maybe we'll get some riding time Nov-Feb. :)

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    2. Yeah definitely! He's a great horse! He's just been a blessing to me and ease the hurt of selling Fox. Artax has been a wonderful addition.

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  3. Sounds like your making real progressive with Quincy. As for boarding vs. staying home I think you have to do what's right for both of you. Then again, you could give the boarding a chance and if you find you're not loving it you can always bring her home

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    1. True--it doesn't have to be all winter if I find it doesn't work out.

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  4. Changing our own ingrained habits is hard! It helps to have another set of eyes, so maybe this winter boarding would be the answer, until you and Quincy have both reached that happy place of mutual trust and respect.

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    1. Yes, ingrained habits kick in when we're put on the spot in a split second. I agree it would be nice to keep working with her until we get to that happy place. It would also give me some real horse time during the winter when I'd usually be taking a riding break.

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  5. Oh man, I'm so happy for you two!! Sounds like everything is progressing wonderfully, and you're having so much fun at it...that's what this journey with our horses is all about. :) I'll just bet, that with this relationship between you and Quincy growing closer every day, even though your girl might not want to admit it right now, she's loving it as much as you are. As far as decision making - as long as it's working and you're both having fun and making progress, why not keep it up? If something changes, you can always bring her home and resume in the spring. Fly by the seat of your pants, I'd say! I SO love this post!!! And I'd frame that picture of you and Cowboy - it's fantastic!! Me and Eagle have taken a break lately. Not so much because that's what we wanted, or needed; it just worked out that way. Hoping we can resume at least some riding soon.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I like to fly by the seat of my pants. I prefer it, actually. I hope you and Eags get some riding time through winter. The lessons are a really nice way to learn about each other while the relationship grows. Green horses are so very different than broke ones. It's been so long since I've ridden a green horse, and since it's not something I do every day, it has worked well to be with a trainer. Really well. There have been a couple of possible breaking points that Regina helped me get past. If not for her, I'm not sure where we'd be. Probably stalled out.

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  6. This is more than inches! This is terrific progress. Also, the heart can expand to hold as much as it needs to.

    As for the barn, I would lean towards keeping her home so you can continue to build your relationship even if you can't ride. I tend to think that horses do okay with some time off. Perhaps you could drive to have lessons so that you continue to develop your skills. But that is just my perspective. There's a lot to recommend boarding her too.

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    1. I'm still on the fence. I broached the subject to my husband today for the first time. He's not a fan of the idea. We're going to continue to weigh it. You're right that I could continue lessons on her horses. Right now I'm 60/40 in favor of boarding. I had to cancel our lesson today because of vicious winds and rain. I didn't feel good about hauling her in it. :(

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.