Ria- Update 6
Over the past month, Ria and I have gone back to the basics of training. I’ve done a lot of pure relaxation work with her, as she’s a very anxious horse in general. I am sure that anxiety is where 99% of her issues are stemming from. Some exercises have included simply redirecting her focus back to me when she gets too distracted and anxious about something. I’ve also gotten much better at reading her body language and determining when she’s concerned or stressed. Then I can back off from any requests when something makes her too worried. While we still have a ways to go, Ria has definitely started to become a much more relaxed horse overall. Much of the relaxation and liberty work that we’ve done together has been helping me with my own anxiety. I’ve taken to meditating on a regular basis so that I can be a better owner and trainer to Ria.
We have also started doing some liberty work with the help of an old dressage trainer of mine. After one training session with her, I was able to start doing some join up/hooking on exercises with Ria. She would match steps with me (walking when I walked, stopping when I stopped, and even turning and backing up when I did). We’ve developed a much stronger connection with each other as a result.
While I don’t think we’ve quite nailed down lunging yet, we’ve made a ton of progress over the last several weeks thanks to my dressage trainer. We’ve had several sessions where there weren’t any fireworks from Ria, and she’s become much more relaxed. Most recently, I was able to walk, trot, and canter her on the lunge line while relatively relaxed. Once we’re able to lunge consistently without any fireworks, I’ll be hopping back on her. At this point, I’m hopeful that she’ll be comfortable enough with lunging in the next week or two for me to try again. Once I’m back in the saddle, I’m going to continue doing a lot of relaxation exercises with her.
March 3rd officially been 6 months since I first claimed Ria out of her final race at Timonium. While things have definitely been a challenge at times, I’m just so glad to have her in my life.
Submitted by Lauren Floyd, WVS club member