It's been a while since my last post and during that time we had been away on holiday to the States, which by the way was awesome.
Up to then all the horses had been in regular work and all were doing really very well, Grace included. Three weeks of us being in the States would be a nice break for them all, they can chill and relax and Grace can put on even more weight, ready to start work on our return.
Or so I thought!
On our return I merrily skipped across the fields to go see our beautiful herd who promptly stuck their heads in the air and snorted at me like I was some kind of alien and Grace shot off in the opposite direction.
Mmm, ok, this may take a little time but she’ll come to me in a minute - nope!
40 minutes later she was still no where near me! The time away in one sense did her good. Physically she had put muscle and weight on. The time out had given her body time to rebalance itself, but mentally she had gone backwards.
Now I have always said I am not in any rush with this mare and I really am not. But, how far back she had gone surprised me a little. It was just like when she arrived with us last year. Shy, a little shut down, not wanting to come and investigate me, in-fact at first she didn’t want to know me and for those folks who are sensitive this can be a little hurtful, however the word that came to me while watching her running away from me was consistency.
Up to us going away she was in regular work, we had a routine, she knew where she was and what she was doing and she was beginning to form good habits, her attitude was changing and she was starting to form a strong bond with me, however the break of three weeks stood in a field meant she no longer had the consistency of leadership, boundaries and guidance and so she fell apart.
Now it took me 4 days before she would let me stroke her neck, and a further three days before I could catch her, this is when I wish I had better roping skills - rather than letting her sit there being worried about me approaching her for a few days extra!
Good habit forming and being consistent about good habits is vital to achieving well trained, happy and reliable horse. Without consistency we are forever starting over.
I have been hearing similar stories throughout my teaching also, “My horse won’t”, “My horse doesn’t like”, “my horse is scared of” etc etc etc, and I also hear this from riders too about themselves.
The bottom line is if we are not consistent in putting the work and effort in then we cannot reap the rewards later on. Now I never said it was easy! but if we just sit there and go “I’can’t” or he/she is scared then nothing will change.
So each time I went into the field, I made a point of standing close to Grace and following her when she walked off until one day, she must have got tired of me being there and walked up to me, Catching was a different story mind, but she stood long enough for me to give her a good wither scratch. I then walked off, I think at this point she changed for the good and followed me all the way down the field.
So even though we may have taken a step backwards, I am actually seeing this as a good step, It’s giving me another chance to get the foundation with Grace more consistent, you can’t just paper over the cracks and hope for the best, it comes back and bites you- such the little pushes she does when she gets worried which I was not consistent in fixing!
Its also made me realise that if I am not consistent in roping practice and I am forever saying to myself how rubbish I am at it! Then I will be consistently rubbish.