Monday, June 11, 2012

Maggie, the Safe and Powerful

Mighty Mags was mighty good today. Because I made a huge mistake over the weekend and put a milk jug with rocks in it on her harness. The noise is supposed to get her used to the noise of a carriage. Well, the noise apparently sounded like someone was coming at her with chainsaw, because she flipped out and started running around the driveway, skidding and bucking and flipping out while Nandy and Tim and I watched, frozen in an "oops." Luckily no one was hurt, including the fat Mags. But today I realize it's a good thing, like every mistake is a good thing, maybe. Because I learned that if I had been on her, or had a bridle on her, I would have had control, she would have trusted me. Nine months of riding and consistent training have given her a precedent of gentle handling. So today when I got on her after yesterday's rock attack, I should have been scared. But instead, I sat deeply and firmly on her and gave her lots of loose rein in the front. Cause the trainer said with a horse that is pretty slow, you want to leave the front open so they can move forward easily, give them the option to move forward willingly. So the ride to the park, and in the arena, Maggie moved forward happily, willingly, glad to be out. She gave me a little attitude when we got to the arena cause she thought I was going to make her run, but I stepped back a step and we just did easy walk trot, follow the directions, be good. So she settled in and connected the dots I laid out for her and I gave her loose rein, more reason to do because she wanted to, because it was a good choice. She is becoming a really, really wonderful horse. The last month she has settled into becoming reliable. She'll be good for all of us, kids included. I have my neighbor's cart and we've been getting her used to it, all the steps leading up to hitching her up. But the cart is broken and the two pieces I need (the cart shafts) are $67 dollars for the pair, and they're in Pennsylvania, where some Amish guy named Earl makes them. But Earl informed me (I talked to an Amish dude!) that the shipping would be $150 dollars. So I've been trying to find an Amish dude here, but so far ain't no Amish Californians. And cart shafts aren't the most popular item since people invented cars. So we're still saving up for that. This experience with Maggie has made me a better rider, stronger and safer. Maybe I needed that to safely teach the kids. And in the process, we saved a big fat horse. Who gets carrots everyday. Mistakes sometimes turn out to be miracles.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Fatty Can't Run

The young girl/PHd student who has been training Maggie once every month or so came out about a week ago. We were going to teach Maggie to canter, and she did really well, actually. Getting Maggie to go faster is like filling a gigantic canvas sack with whale blubber and then attempting to heft it skyward. But CourtneyMadisonOtherYoungGirlName was able to get her going pretty easily and it was exciting to see her achieve something only the men on the moon have achieved - uncharted territory. I went to the arena yesterday to try it out, nervous because I was by myself, but I thought I could maybe get her to do it. I'm messier than the trainer, I'm more me, less PhD. And as we worked in the arena, it started to get broiling out, Maggie got hot and decided she didn't want to run anymore. It's like she REALIZED she was 1400 pounds. So she didn't run at all. In fact, when I asked her to canter, she slammed on the brakes, very clearly saying UH NO. I did find myself calling her the C word. For fun. I was having a Cbag day. She did canter for one STEP. After that, it was just like she was melting into a puddle of magma. I did learn something that was pretty funny - she is a safe horse. I know, because I was beating her with my little stick and she did not try to buck me off or hurt me or anything. She just was not going to move. My friend Karen said to me a few weeks back, "It's funny, you got a slow horse because that's what you wanted, and now all you want is for her to go faster." The good thing is, today Maggie is back to normal, walked and trotted on our little ride today, out with Hank in the neighborhood. She just tells me what she wants, she wants company, or she's too hot, or yes, today I will run when you ask. The trainer says boy horses (geldings) will say "okay," when you ask them to do something. They're just doofy and agreeable. Mares, when you ask them to do something will say, "Why." And then if you persist, they will do it for you. So the Mags is doing well. She's more reliable on the trail, getting more relaxed and confident, barely spooking anymore. When I was getting on her today, and I had Hank on the leash, I went to get up on her and she looked down at Hank and leaned down and play-nipped him on the back. He glared at her, but it was funny. They both like each other's company out on the trail.