Ria’s nose has healed completely now, and thankfully we didn’t have any other physical setbacks over the last month. I’ve continued to take things very slowly with her and have tried to keep our training sessions different every day. I started introducing some clicker training into our regimen, which has been very helpful so far. She now has no trouble standing still at the mounting block and is currently learning to “smile” on command.
As we have progressed with her training, both on the lunge line and under saddle, Ria has become much less concerned with the bit, which is great. She still opens her mouth and chews when she’s anxious, but those moments have reduced greatly over the past few weeks. I’ve recently gotten into Warwick Schiller’s training videos on YouTube, which are insanely helpful with regards to Ria’s own training. I’ve been spending some days just working on bonding and connecting with her as well, which I think has been going very well.
A birthday adventure
We celebrated her 5th birthday last week on February 2nd, which turned out to be much more exciting for Ria than I ever intended. My partner and I hand walked her out on some of the trails nearby, which she absolutely loved. I could tell that it was a little too much for her baby racehorse brain to handle when we got to the open field on the trails though. She reared up twice and couldn’t stop dancing around. She clearly wanted to have a strong gallop across the field and kick up her heels in high spirits.
At that point I decided it was best to head back to the barn. I opted to turn her out in the paddock for a few minutes to get some of her energy out, but forgot that when the rest of the horses are in the barn, the gates are kept open. Ria ended up getting loose on the property for about two minutes before we were able to shut her in another paddock. Definitely one of the most nerve wracking moments I’ve had with her, but she had a grand old time.
One step at a time
Despite our progress in certain areas, Ria has started to develop a bad habit of bucking under saddle when she gets spooked or frustrated. The first several times I was able to keep my seat and get her back under control, but I experienced my first real fall off her this past weekend. She spooked badly at the wind slamming into one of the arena windows and took off bucking. This time I lost one of my stirrups in the process and came off. Thankfully, I had on a MIPS helmet and an airbag safety vest that deployed. I got a little whiplash from the incident, but both Ria and I are fine now.
We’re going to go back to some of the basics on the ground for a little while, and I’m going to start bringing in some professional trainers to help us through the process. The good thing is that she doesn’t have one mean bone in her body, and she tries really hard. She can just act up a little when she gets too excited, frustrated, or afraid. All of those are things that can definitely be improved with more training!
Submitted by Lauren Floyd, WVS club member