It Takes a Village

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Kathy and Lizzie, Annye and Robbye, Yogi’s ears

It’s been an interesting week since I last journaled. Thursday I got a call from the farm that Robbye was acting very strange – listless, not eating all her hay, not drinking at all. Of course I freak out and rush out there, to see that she’s just a bit…off. Doesn’t seem to be anything life-threatening, and I hand-walk and then longe her a bit and she seems to feel better. I ended up going out to the barn three times that day, and she felt better every time I visited.

Friday was really fun. Four of us were riding at once – which is strange for our barn. It was like a party! After (barn owner) Carolyn finished riding, she returned to the indoor and gave Robbye and me a mini-lesson. She had some great new ideas, as does (neighbor rider) Heather. They left me with a lot to think about regarding Robbye’s current place in her training.

Saturday, Kathy, Julie, and I trailered to Possum Creek for a trail ride. I rode in draw reins for the submission/obedience factor. On one hand, it feels icky to use them on the trail – there’s a safety factor for sure. After some Google searches, it looks like some people do advocate using them on the trail (for control, brakes, submission, etc.) and others are horrified because they could get caught on branches and then provide a whole lot of leverage to a panicking horse’s mouth. I can definitely see both sides of the argument; of course, draw reins themselves provoke a whole lot of controversy.

Anyway, Robbye was good with the draw reins. They definitely gave me the confidence I needed to make her listen to me. It was also fun to be able to work on some dressage on the trail – ask her to give her head, back it up with the draw reins when she inevitably ignores me, release the draw reins and ask her to walk like she isn’t a llama. It was nice! And I felt nice, too. Not scared.

Sheesh. Only four months ago I was trotting bareback down the trails. That damn crash at the Standardbred show screwed me up so much. SO FRUSTRATING.

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Love this clip :3

Sunday she got the day off, then Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Robbye and I worked on our roundness some more. Again, Carolyn and Heather piped in with some ideas on how to help encourage her and train her. Julie had some new ideas, too – including trying Yogi’s bit. (It’s a baucher. I’m not noticing any difference.) I have a whole lot to think about. Julie commented that it’s taking a village to train me and Robbye, and she’s right! Boy do I like it, though.

Yesterday was particularly successful. I put her surcingle on, and Heather suggested I move the side reins to the buckles on the girth, which are about six inches below the lowest ring I usually use. This made a dramatic difference in her roundness. She was suddenly keeping the side reins very slack, only hitting them when she llamaed. Her back raised six inches as it rounded, I swear.

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She’s not really this downhill anatomically. It was the ground, I swear!

Carolyn then suggested I get really strict with her behavior on the longe. This is something I thought I had been doing, but I stepped it up a notch and really demanded instant transitions. After a couple small fights – wow was she listening and obeying! This is the kind of obedience that we really need under saddle.

After a great longe workout, I jumped on bareback and tried to replicate her roundness. I tried to focus more on her stretching down instead of rounding up, per Heather’s suggestion. She thinks we may find success turning a stretch into a properly round horse, rather than…whatever we’re doing now. Robbye does seem to like stretching down at the walk and trot, and she offered some nice stretching last night, so I’m definitely going to try this approach!

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Wow, I just wrote a really boring novel about getting my baby horse round. RIVETING. Better quit now before I type another 12 paragraphs.

I’m really loving having a “presence” now in the horse blogging community. I’ve been lurking for…sheesh…two years now. I’m really loving commenting – I should have started sooner, but it just seemed so silly to do it when my blog was private!

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7 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

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