Monday, January 18, 2010

Just Another day at the Barn

Sunday I set out to the barn in good spirits. It was a lesson day. My husband also offered to come and take video. I think he felt bad that he was leaving that evening for the week :) That's ok, I'll take an extra pair of hands any way I can get them! So, with the dog walked and breakfast had, we set off nice and early. Finally, I wouldn't be in a rush before a lesson!

Sounds good, doesn't it?

On the way there, we were interrupted by a 10K run that closed off the only roads I know to get to the barn. That's ok, I had lots of time, so we had an impromptu tour of the nearest little town. Once at the barn, I caught Brumby and set my husband to duct taping the ginormous hole in his heavy rain sheet (mentioned in the comments to my previous post). He took the blanket to the heated tack room at the far end of the barn and I started grooming.

With Brumby nice and clean, I swept the floor and was just setting the broom against the wall when Brumby stepped sideways. Unfortunately, the barn cat was cuddled next to his hoof and he stepped right on the cat!

All I heard was this weird, muffled, cat-like yowl and I turned to see a Grey fur tornado flailing around Brumby's right hoof. I almost had a heart attack right there but I'm fortunately pretty good in a crisis so I immediately flew to his other side and pushed his shoulder. Big lug dutifully moved away from the pressure and the poor cat literally flew to his little house, just around the corner.

At this point, I think I yowled myself and tried to coax the cat out to see how bad he was. He wouldn't come out. I decided I should get backup to get him out. If it was really bad, I knew it would be better to have someone else around. Sure, if I was alone I would have coped with it. But I happened to have the best person I could ask for in a crisis right there (aka my husband), so I went to get him.

I walked down that aisle. Since when was it this long? I started out upset but in control. With every step, I crumpled a little more. By the time I reached the door to the tack room, I was a blubbering mess. Good thing my husband speaks blubbering mess, he understood immediately "auuh, huh, huh, Brumby..ahuh...stepped on.ahh...ah the caaat, ooohh aww" [hand shaking, arms waving].

We booked it back down the aisle (magically shorter, this time) and now joined by one of the barn staff who heard my commotion. We coaxed the cat out of his little house and...he looked great. Wait...great?

Honestly, that cat looked so happy for all the attention being focused on him (finally). I was still crying and saying how it wasn't possible, he was caught under the hoof of a full-grown Hanoverian, I saw it! I was still crying as the cat walked about and even ran a few steps, then came back for some pets.

I took a few deep breaths. This wasn't possible. But it was, he didn't look like he was in shock, even several minutes later, he seemed...normal. He was giving the horse a wide berth, but that's it.

I'm guessing Brumby knocked one of the nine lives off though. Clearly there is no other logical explanation :) Judging by the look of that cat, it wasn't the first.

Whew. I now had 10 minutes to lesson time. (I did tell the barn owner about the cat and to keep an eye on him for the next few hours especially). I guess I was fortunate my instructor was a little late due to the mini-marathon.

On to the lesson.

We've been doing some jumping but have gone back to flat for a bit. I needed to work on a number of things (um, breaks, anyone?) before the jumping would be worthwhile. At the canter, Brumby is either a)being held up and looks pretty good but isn't holding himself, b)rather high-headed and fast, or c)curled behind the bit. There is, of course, option d, which I get sometimes but want all the time.

Lately, the biggest issue I've had is fixing 'c', namely that I want him to stop coming behind the bit at the canter. Of course, curling his neck in also means I don't have the breaks off the seat that I want and half-halts are practically non-existent. This is partly due to his old habit (he was always held up) and partly because my timing isn't perfect with the softening.

I'm leaving a lot of stuff out, so feel free to ask/comment/question. I can't believe I'm posting these on here!

Here, we are just working on trotting a square. This has also been a tough spot. I have a hard time getting a good bend with him. (note: there is another rider with us, so the comments at the beginning are directed to her and her mare)

Here we are working on canter-trot transitions off the seat. So hard!!

There. Enjoy the laugh :D


Anonymous said...

Cats are amazingly tough! Glad it survived unhurt.

On the curl up, try using your hands less and engaging the hindquarters more - in fact don't worry at all about head position or even contact until you get good impulsion from behind. Often, a horse that is behind the bit is not softening somewhere else in the topline and you need to get the horse to relax the whole topline and engage the core - sometimes there is a physical issue preventing this and sometimes it's just habit. Good luck!

RuckusButt said...

Yep, this is exactly what we've been working on. Easy to know in theory, harder to implement! I think it started as a physical issue that is now habit(he had a poorly fitting saddle for a LONG time). But it is so much better than even a few weeks ago.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Curling can be a hard habit to break. Your instructor is certainly trying to help you address it correctly via riding off of seat and legs. It is nice to have videos so that when you feel like you aren't making progress you can go back and watch them and realize how far you have come!

I've watched Bear go through the exact same scenario as the cat and come out of it fine. My poor farrier was in tears as it happened when she was working on a horse!

Golden the Pony Girl said...

Yes curling is a hard one but sounds like you have a good game plan! Sounds like you and Brumby are getting along well though which is great to hear. Sorry to hear about the cat that sounds nerve racking but glad to hear it is ok!

RuckusButt said...

I should also add that riding properly on the bit is a fairly new thing for me. Most of the school horses at the lesson barn were...well, school horses! It doesn't give one much of an opportunity to develop elastic feel, not that I didn't try, it's just different. So Brumby and I are both learning a lot.

Also, the comments at the very beginning of BOTH videos was directed at the other rider. Hopefully it's obvious which comments belong with who!

Melissa - after watching them the first time I wanted to cry! Then I watched them again and felt a little better. THEN I watched some from November. Not only is it good to see tangible progress but I learn a lot from watching myself. It helps me translate how it feels to how it looks. I'm a bit of a dunce in that respect!

Thanks Golden, we are getting along quite well. He is a lot greener than I expected but since I'm getting weekly private lessons I don't feel over my head.

HorseOfCourse said...

Cats are amazing. My home PC gives me trouble with videos, so I'll sneak a look at work!

RuckusButt said...

They ARE amazing, I'm off to the barn and sneaking the little furball some cat treats!

Please do have a look when you can, they are short. I'm always interested in your opinion. There is sound of people talking (in case that's a problem at work!)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Glad the cat is okay. Probably just stepped on his tail or scared him.

Couldn't watch the videos they wouldn't work. I'm sure you're being more critical than you need to be. Things take time, relax and it will come. I'm sorry I don't give advice on riding I'm not a qualified instructor and wouldn't want to undo anything you're learning from your trainer.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. I saw a lot to like in those two video clips. Also, most of us spend a lifetime trying to develop that elastic feel - it is a never ending journey!

I have to admit I hate watching video of myself ride and looking at pictures. It does make me cry! Usually because I compare it to video/pictures from several years ago when I was *seriously* riding and showing. I look at myself looking so confident over these huge jumps, with much better position, feel and timing than I have today, and I think "what the hell happened" and then I want to cry. Makes me feel like I have no business being on the back of a horse. I know what happened, it is called life and a big change in priorities, but it is still depressing!

RuckusButt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RuckusButt said...

I'm honestly not *trying* to be hard on myself. Sometimes it actually helps to remind myself how far I've come in a relatively short period of time (I've been back to riding regularly for a year and a half after a 15+ year hiatus). I guess I was just trying to give context for where I am in my riding.

I can relate to the frustration of not being where you once were in skill. With riding, it's wasn't so bad for me since I could barely remember where I was! But I used to rock climb 6 days a week and now when I go I feel like a fat potato sack, lol. I know what my body should do, stupid thing just doesn't listen!

If you don't belong on the back of a horse, I shouldn't even be in the barn!

And thanks for the comment about spending a lifetime learning that feel. I actually felt relief when I read that! Sometimes Brumby's owner makes it sound like I should just "get it" and be perfect forevermore! Fortunately my coach is a good balance of sympathetic and firm.

RuckusButt said...

Grey Horse - not sure why the video isn't working for you.

I wasn't really looking for advice necessarily anyway, just sharing my current riding experiences/issues. I like to hear other perspecitves, ideas, and yes advice too. But I am capable of thinking about it and not just following what someone online says (though I am lucky to have readers who know what they're talking about!). No one here could undo what my trainer and I do. But sometimes it makes me ask questions of her that help me learn more, or someone says something just the right way and it clicks etc, etc. And I think that's pretty cool.