Monday, January 21, 2013

Time to take a little punk pony for a (ground) drive

An epiphany is not simply reached, celebrated, and then marked off the list with an "And that's that."  One goes back again and again, seeking to recapture the"Ah ha!" feeling to ensure it was, in fact, a genuine revelation.  It is not a period in a sentence, but an ellipses, a colon, promising there is more to come.

With this guiding me, I went back for more this afternoon and rode Tril.  My muscles, which I hadn't noticed being all that sore, roared and groaned their complaint from the moment I picked up the reins--but despite the "Oww, ow ow owwwWWW!" I got It again.  Not great, but there--and this time, Tril rewarded me with fleeting moments of relaxing his neck and reach forward, playing with the bit and giving my aching arms a break without breaking frame.  Looking at photos, we're still not there, but we definitely can see it from here.

Dude, he even looks good at the halt (Laura, drop your weight through your heels and sit up)

My forearms hurt looking at this.  (Laura, turn your ankles in--though I'm probably tapping him with my right leg--and relax your hands)

This isn't even his big trot.  What the heck will THAT be like?  (Laura, elbows in and raise your left shoulder.  What, me my own worst critic?)

But after Trilogy, it was Firefly's turn. He was only part of why I was eager to get there.  After that amazing Friday ride, with Daylight "Savings" sending the sun diving under the horizon before I could catch it, I (okay, a friend who actually knows what she's doing) tacked up Firefly in the harness I'd found on Craigslist over the break.  Firefly stood there dutifully in her "Like I could give a crap" way as she was tacked up.

Daylight "Savings" my ass

The cute, it is to Awwwwwwww

My friend with the driving Clydesdale helped show me what everything is and how it all goes, and did a little preliminary ground driving with her. The harness itself was no issue--she very much as a "don't give a crap" attitude. The bit was annoying to her, but all she did was mouth it (as you see here). 

She had a few pissy moments as my friend ground drove her, but as Firefly's motto is "avoid giving a crap if at all possible," they were mild. She did some pivoting and backing up, but my friend got her straightened out and within 5-10min, Fly was going forward and turning with little protest. She also has an excellent whoa--big bonus.

My friend helped me practice a little itsy bitty bit driving her to get the feel, and I was pleasantly surprised how responsive Fly was. Of course, I had just ridden my hard-mouthed, arm-dragging boy, so it was quite the contrast feeling her respond to a squeezed finger to turn. After the initial pissiness, all the ground driving training she'd had before I bought her (8 years ago!!) started to show itself. It's like a light bulb went off and she said, "Oooh, oh, this thing."

And now, I'm all tired and stuff.  It's Monday night after a glorious three-day weekend, and I have sleep to attempt.  But--we ground drove her again on Sunday, and she was amazingly good--I'm seeing all the training she'd had before I bought her eight years ago.

My friend did most of the driving, but I did some, and Fly was such a good girl. Opinionated and obstinate, but a good girl. She isn't a tantrummy brat that will pitch a big fit, but she WILL make her displeasure known with a curled lip and grumpy ears. Still, she seemed happy and eager (if bewildered half the time) to be doing something--while I was riding Tril, she kept whinnying after us, and she is anything but buddy sour--that is quite beneath her.

This second time in the harness, she was noticeably improved. No backing up, no butt swinging, no pivoting. She did have selective hearing and was offended by the (hay string) overcheck preventing her from snacking, but she begrudgingly listened--and she did what was asked. 

I wanted to finish this blog and publish it so you could see all her from here on, I'll let the photos do the talking.

I'm going to be checking bit fit--she never seemed comfortable with it

A bit bewildered, but adorable and obedient

"Fuck off.  You see nothing."


The indignity...I will have to kick and squeal at many a horse to regain it

Navigating through trees to practice and control steering--and limit distractions and options

A few times, she let out a little helium whinny.  Bewildered, confused, feeling alone? Poor girl. She was okay soon enough.

I had to give it a try.  She was very good, but I definitely need to drive horses that are trained just out of fairness out her

Yup, even some trotting was done!

Horse butt

More trotting!

Coming home!  Tril, who had been out grazing, was very curious in a "What the HELL are you DOING with her??" kind of way.  He had to greet us as we returned.

It's a good look for her
We were sure to end on a good note, and after untacking her I was sure to do something I never do with her--I hand fed her a treat. I'm trying to keep this as positive as possible. She was such a good girl.

I'm learning (and seeing for myself) just how much training she'd had before I bought her. I learned, for one, she had been ground driven in this exact bit--not sure why she's mouthing it like it's been dipped in rancid milk. She's picking this up far too quickly to be as green as I thought, but she's gone 8+ years without it. She just needs a little refresher course for things to click again and shake the cobwebs off.  

Her whoa is awesome. My friend chuckled, "It's her favorite gait." Indeed.

There's a driving show next month I want to attend (relax, as a spectator) so I can both see good driving and network with professionals. There's also a three-day driving clinic I will likely attend at least in part in May.

Ooh, the first pseudo-halter class of the day is "Hairiest Horse."  Hmm.  We just might need to take her along.

So, cool.

And now, good night, and great week.


  1. I love that top paragraph its so true, I know I've had trouble thinking the A-Ha moment should just stick forever, but it is more like an ellipses

  2. What blows is when enough time passes (like the week of rainy weather we had recently) and you go back to revisit--and the feeling is temporarily lost. I rode on Wednesday and it was a mess, but yesterday it was better, and today was muccchh better.

    To the ellipses! ...