Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Me! (And Arya!)

So, a year ago today, Arya stepped off the trailer and into my life.  At the time, it was a try-before-buying deal, though I was fairly sure I would buy, but it wasn't necessarily permanent.  However, I paid for her and sealed the deal a couple weeks later, so now she's stuck with me.  :-)

So, things that have happened over the past year:

  • We entered and rider-option pulled from our first and only "endurance" ride (a Limited Distance ride)
  • We entered and successfully "completed" two trail rides held at endurance rides
  • We entered and basically flunked a trail challenge course, but had fun doing it
  • We attended a ride clinic as well as a few private and semi-private lessons; probably not as many as we SHOULD have, but time, money, and trailer rides have to all come together to make it happen
  • We've ridden on various trail rides with various companions, and even a couple new-to-her arenas
  • We entered a parade, though I led Arya rather than riding.  But she did great with all sorts of purple stuff in her mane and tail.  :-)
  • We've ridden on a trail ride with mules, with me on a different equine than her, and her with a different rider (my sister) AND we saw coyotes, all in one ride!
  • We've successfully done a couple of very easy, very short bareback rides
  • We've crossed wooden bridges out in the real world, which can be very scary!
  • I've come off her four times, and my sister came off her once.  I don't fully blame her for any of them, though I wish she would watch her feet so she doesn't trip, and that she wouldn't buck  (crowhop) when she gets worried or scared.  :-)
  • We've gone through a medical situation--her first (and hopefully last!) colic episode, with two vet visits but luckily minimal medical intervention required and a quick recovery.
Things she's learned or improved on in the past year:
  • She didn't use to "get" the procedure of walking through a gate being led by a human:  pause for human to open gate, back up a couple steps, walk through gate, turn back toward the gate, pause for human to close gate, continue onward.  Now she gets it and follows along with the procedure nicely, without prompting.
  • She was terrible about picking her feet up when I first got her, especially her hind feet.  She  now picks them all up, but kind of grudgingly, and she's not the best at actually holding their weight in the air herself--that part's up to me.
  • She has learned to back out of a trailer.  She wasn't very good at it the first couple times, but she's a pro now.  It's not REALLY necessary with Shar's big stock trailer (even if she's the first one off, she could back out of her slot, but then turn in the empty back half of the trailer), but it's a good skill to have, and might come in necessary in smaller trailers.
  • She was afraid of crossing water, but after a few short but tough sessions with Shar, she's finally decided it's not the end of the world.  She might still try to jump a small stream, but she willingly walks into rivers, and has even led the way.
  • She hasn't been great at being the lead horse for most of this past year, slowing down and even stopping to let someone else lead.  The past couple rides, she's actually led out quite willingly, and even eagerly.  We even met some cows on the trail, and she stopped dead in her tracks, then trusted me when I urged her forward.
  • She used to walk away for the first couple minutes when I'd go out to the pasture to catch her, sometimes to the FAR corner (though she never made me chase her for long, she'd just wander off then wait for me to catch up to her).  Now she comes to me.  I think the change happened with the colic--spending all night with her and being the one (well, along with Shar!) to hang out with her till she felt better, I guess she associates me with having helped her.  Aww...
  • She used to walk off when mounting.  Strangely, I never actually WORKED on this.  I told myself this was something we needed to work on, and she's magically been nearly perfect about it ever since.  Apparently just my attitude of "we are not going to walk off immediately after mounting" communicated that to her or something.
  • She's gotten better at groundwork.  She's always been fine about leading, but stopping when I stop and backing up when I back up, not so much.  She's improving, but we still have more to work on.  She's also gotten much better at lateral work from the ground, moving her hindquarters, front end, or whole body over with a voice cue and taps from a whip.  Need to work on it from the saddle, and from body language instead of actual tapping from the ground.
  • She did NOT get what I was asking for the first few times I asked her to trot in hand, a necessary skill for endurance rides.  But a couple training sessions, and she totally "got" it, and now does it with a simple voice command (and of course, trotting from the handler).

Goals and things to work on for the coming year:
  • Enter and complete an LD (limited distance--25-30 mile) ride successfully
  • Get better about picking her feet up, and HOLDING them up
  • At rides, she's shown that she does NOT like horses coming up behind her.  She's fine with horses she knows riding close behind her on our normal trail rides, so it's a combo of it being strangers and the ride environment, I'm sure.  Need to find a way to work on this, hopefully, or else just more exposure at rides.
  • Lateral work--she barely understands my cues from the saddle.  She's pretty good from the ground, but we can work on more subtle cues from the ground for sure.
  • We definitely need to work on footwork--Arya took a big stumble that caused me to fall off, but she rarely picks her feet up enough in "trippy" terrain (rocks or roots or whatever).  We need to work on trotting over poles this winter--starting with them spaced regularly and working our way up to randomly-placed obstacles she actually has to LOOK and THINK her way through.
There are probably things I'm forgetting from each of those categories, but it's a pretty good look back at the last year and look forward to the next year.  I also meant to include some photos from throughout the past year in this post, but time has gotten away from me, and I gotta go visit my girlie and love on her a bit, so I'll end it with just this one photo, from a year ago today:

1 comment:

  1. Great summary, keeping track of all her accomplishments and whatnot from the past year. I never did that, though I don't think my dogs ever accomplished so much either.