The past two weeks have been difficult for Phebes, difficult for me. I wrote to Tamara who hosts my favorite blog "The Barb Wire" pleading for advice ....how to get unstuck from this loop of moving forward, and regressing which more or less equals NO MOVEMENT. Though she did not give me a definitive answer (since she cannot see this horse first hand of course), she did unclog my mind enough that I could step back and analyze a little bit. I think we are dealing with a pair of confidence and fear issues that have worked like this:
I saddle up and take Phebes out. Her lack of confidence attributes to balking, or spinning. Her spinning and my resulting falls have shaken "my" confidence. So now we have paired up a non-confident horse, with a less than confident rider. The self realization is painful, since the training and resulting scenerio belongs to me, and me alone. So I have a two-fold issue to deal with; building Phebes confidence, and mine, at the same time, is that possible? Another factor that I am looking at is that our worst mishaps have been close to home. I've been thrown off in the front lot (arena type area), the field adjacent to our fenced pasture, and the creek bed just behind the property. Fear? Or is it barn sour behavior? I try de-spooking exercises here at home, and she really isn't all that concerned about things. Umbrella's popping open, Wally-World Bags, banging on the barn, and horse trailer, slamming doors, junk strewn around on the ground, plywood bridges, me jumping around arms waving like a maniac. Cars whiz by her fence line every day with no reaction from her, but put her under saddle and anything that moves is a predator???
Tamara has her mare Consolation's conditioning log on her blog. This horse has some of the temperment characteristics of Phebes, though I don't think she is quite so volatile in her reactions as Phebes, but she wasn't being forward on trail. What I found most interesting was her BASE: she gave Consolation 21 short trail rides at the walk or trot prior to beginning conditioning. I'm sure Phebes has had this number of rides, but they have been spaced out, mixed up, and not consistent. So just some consistency and repetition might be a starting point, to plan and execute three weeks of trail riding, the same basic route to the tune of 4 miles each ride.
Week one: Ride 'em slow 4 miles X 3 but with consistent "forward" movement Reinforce responsive gait transitions during this process. LSD 7.5 X 1
Week two: Ask for the trot half of the route 4 miles X 2. LSD 8 mile X 1
Week three: Trot out 4 miles X 2. LSD 10 mile X 1.
That should give us a three week base of further trail preparation. I will try to not be hung up on the distance so much as improving her overall behavior, and work ethic if you will. With this basic plan in mind, I will try to set up the LSD rides with other riders to work out any social issues. Any takers contact me privately via email.
I'll be digging out my rain slicker....better flop her with that good first a few times too.
I have already modified Phebes diet and feel fairly satisfied that it is unrelated to her behavior. She is eating a grass hay, and Nutrena Lite which is a high fiber, low non-structured carbohydrate feed. It is the closest processed feed ration that I could find for a diet structured toward the needs of an endurance horse. She only gets a couple pounds a day because she is an "air fern". She has free choice minerals and salt indoors and out. She is due for her worming, so I will get that done to rule out any parasitic worries that may attribute to her irritability. Phebes also gets raspberry leaf which has done wonders for pouty mare syndrome, and toned down her overall mare "meaness".
That is all I can wrap my mind around this morning. Taking Mom to the doctor in a couple of hours. ~Endurance Granny
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association