Thursday, January 29, 2009

There are no words...

... for how appalled I am.

The new trainer came today... and OMG...

Okay. I'm going to take a deep breath, and start with the good. Because there were some good things she did, and I feel like I did learn something today. At first, on the ground, we lunged a bit, and she commented that Lic seems nice and willing on the ground. There are definitely some things I have been lax on- I need to tell her what to do, not simply ask, and insist on a response. Something she pointed out to me was that I cue her several times for, say, a canter on the lunge line. When I get it, I'll be satisfied with just one lap or so around, the stop her and praise. She told me that when she is slow to respond to my cues, I need to really work her until she is tired, then cue her to trot, then walk, try again the other way, insisting on a good response. I also need to get a longer lunge whip, because when she moves out far enough to get into a canter, and I cue her, but she doesn't respond, I don't have anything to back it up with because I can't reach her. That makes sense to me.

While riding, we worked on balkiness and stubbornness. Something that seemed good in theory but didn't quite work out was when she balks, cue to walk, if she doesn't respond bump harder and tap with a crop until she moves, then release all the pressure. Worked a few times, and she actually seemed like she was giving up on the bucking when she realized all she got was a one-rein stop and continued pressure to walk on... but eventually she seemed like she just went totally numb and desensitized to the cues. She would just stand there, pin her ears, and swish her tail, but refused to move. So I would pull her head around, make her turn around, make her back, still nothing.

So at this point, my thought was to get off, lunge, and get back on. Trainer agreed, so we did such. It was going okay, until Lic decided to do what she does sometimes- stand planted and bare her teeth at me. Trainer encouraged me to get more aggressive with body language a pop her with the lunge whip- which I'm okay with, she does need to learn that she can't just stand there and give me that nasty attitude. Anyway, it seemed like an okay idea, until Lic reared (she does that too sometimes when she doesn't feel like responding to my cue) but this time, she flipped herself over onto the saddle, and of course I hear CRACK! Now at this point, I’m concerned that my horse is okay, I go and check her out, and she's fine, although she had this very sheepish look on her face.... Saddle was fairly damaged, but I think it might be salvageable- the tree is cracked up by the pommel but I think it's only the outer surface- the actual structure of the saddle seems okay.

So at this point, we simply lunged for a good long while, working on trying to get her to maintain gaits without me nagging at her- she seems a little unbalanced at the canter, but she also has gotten a little pudding under her skin, so hopefully as I get her fitter that will improve.

As for the bad... while this lady had some valuable pointers and instruction that I agree with, I was appalled at her attitude. Let's see- for starters, when Lic pulls that nice little stunt where she tries to bite my leg... she suggested popping her in the mouth with my reins "as hard as you can." I personally feel that while it's okay to correct, I just don't like the idea of essentially ripping her mouth up! I did pull on her to correct, but certainly not "as hard as I could." She also suggested a Tom Thumb bit to me, which I know nothing about, so I'll do some research before I consider trying one.

As this did not exactly cure Lic’s attitude, the trainer proceeded to ask me, "Do you ever just beat the shit out of her?" Ummm, no, I do not ever just beat the shit out of my horse. Thanks. I correct her, but I do not beat the shit out of her. If it takes a thousand years for her to respect me, that's fine, I'll plug along and err on the side of too soft or lenient- yes, I know that's not a good way to train but OMG!

Her other brilliant suggestion was that I needed to buy a shorter crop so I can beat Lic in the face when she bites at me. WHAT? Okay, first of all, I'm not too fond of the idea of, say, treating corneal abrasions or (god forbid, not that I would EVER do this) broken face bones. Second of all... if I'm already having problems with control under saddle, and Lic has already shown a propensity to rear, SELF-PRESERVATION tells me I should really avoid "beating her in the face." Third of all, I like the ability to halter and bridle my horse. So far, she's fine with that. Somehow, I think beating her in the face might give her a bit of a head-shyness problem...

but what do I know, I'm just a newbie horse owner and this lady is a show trainer, a western please show trainer no less. Ugh. I love riding western but the amount of abuse that goes on is nauseating. So no, I will not be "beating the shit out of" Licorice. And although I got something out of today, I do not believe I will be asking her back.

Sorry for the rant. I'm not a happy girl right now.

An Introduction

This is my 6 year old paint mare Licorice. On the ground, she is the absolute sweetest thing. She follows me around, leads well, lunges *okay* (could be better) and has endearing habits like carrying her food bucket around. She is healthy, if a bit chubby, and happy. She has bouts of attitude that I consider normal- sometimes turning away when she sees me coming with a halter, a little tail swishing or ear pinning if her gelding friend comes to close while she’s eating or tied, nothing too terrible.

It’s when I get her out to work with her that I have problems. She will lunge, but it somewhat balky at times, and she has reared and charged. (This is not acceptable or accepted- she is corrected and made to work hard afterward.) She’ll also aim a little side-kick or buck in my direction if she knows she is out of reach of the lunge whip. These are things I need to work on, I know this.

Riding is where we have our big issue. It started small, but has escalated, which I consider to be my fault due to my inexperience. Refusing to ride out, turning to bite my leg when bumped/cued, bucking, tail swishing, you name it, she does it. The only problem I don’t seem to consistently have is rearing- thank god because that scares the shit out of me. Bucking is not something I like, but *on the plus side* I have gotten very good at riding bucks out, first of all, and I have even progressed to halting her with a one-rein stop and turning in a circle. It’s not much but it’s progress.

This blog is simply me chronicling our *fun* adventures. I would love suggestions, as the crop of trainers in this area are either too expensive, too unavailable, or too “good ole boy” for my liking.