Showing posts with label Indy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indy. Show all posts

Monday, January 23, 2017

Caution to the Wind

I've been pretty conservative with bringing Indy back from her injury. According to the rehab protocol, we could have started cantering a couple of weeks ago. Giving her an extra month didn't seem like such a horrible idea, so I was going to wait until early February before getting back to any canter work. How silly of me to think that I could stick to anyone's time schedule but Indy's.

What more could I possibly need?

At our lesson the week before, Indy had gone FANTASTIC and my trainer said that if she was going like that again, it probably wouldn't hurt to do a small amount of canter work. You know, because it's the elephant horse and any time she is doing things correctly and willingly, you might as well take the opportunity to do a bit more.

Blurry screenshots because YouTube hates me. I'll edit this with video if it ever uploads.

*Before anyone starts wondering why I'm taking lessons on a horse being rehabbed, you should know that the lessons are aligned with the rehab protocol. They aren't ultra long lessons and have been just walk-trot up to this point. Basically, my trainer is just helping me with managing and getting quality work from Indy through the process of building her up to full work.

A couple of days after my lesson, Indy had a ton of energy. She wasn't doing anything bad, but I could feel her just wanting to go. I'd go as far to say that she was trying really hard to be good, yet was begging to be able to get some of that energy out. I mumbled something to myself about how she damn well better not buck me off and asked her to canter.

She doesn't do resting bitchface anymore!

Much to my surprise, she gave me a gorgeous transition and went on with a lovely, balanced canter. It shocked me so much that I just sat there like a dumbfounded sack of potatoes, being nothing but a passenger, and she STILL cantered around like a pro. On a circle. This mare can canter balanced for days in a straight line, yet 20 meter circles have always been a challenge for her.

I don't know how much I've talked about this, but I've gone through HELL with this horse and her canter work. Seriously, everything. All of it. I've had to make her gallop very FORWARD to get in front of my legs, which wasn't all that fun at the time since her steering wasn't the greatest and if I used too much hand her head would be in my face, which led to having to galloping even more forward. If we weren't forward enough, I had her ears up my nose. Then SHE decided that forward wasn't forward enough and that the thoroughbred side of her needed to be shown off. After that we went through a cantering sideways stage, which involved kicking at my leg every time I tried to get her in front of it. That was followed by drama llama canter transitions. Oh, and let's not forget the stage where she thought charging at other horses would be fun. There's more, but you get the general idea of her masterful evasions. Submission has definitely not come easily with this horse.

Hopefully, I can get some canter pictures soon. Until then you're stuck with boring trot pictures.

Back to the present, Indy gave me three good circles to the left and I asked her for a downward, which she did flawlessly. Obviously, I had to canter her to the right too. The transition was decent enough. She was a little fussy and wanted to drift over her left shoulder. We went back to the trot. I let her settle and reminded myself that I might actually have to ride her instead of just sitting there. I asked again and it was better. It took a circle to get everything togther, then she gave me the same beautiful canter that she had given to the left, which was followed by another beautiful downward. What the holy hell?! 


So we cantered. In a respectable manner. After not cantering for almost eight months. It wasn't 100% under the terms that I had originally wanted, but maybe it was good for me to be reminded that waiting for near perfection isn't always ideal. I would love to say that we're over the hump and we'll continue to get this quality of work that we can really begin to build on. However, it's day by day with horses. With Indy, it can be minute by minute. We'll still have our good and bad days, like anyone. I'm very glad for the good moments I get from her because they bring promise to the worse ones. They remind my of why I've stuck it out with Indy for as long as I have, of why I've always maintained hope for us. And the bad moments; I know we will get through them in time. Stride by stride.

Most importantly, I'm having fun with her.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Almost Famous

The lighted horse with the dark background has always been an attractive picture to me. When a friend told me that a photographer was coming to Scottsdale that does this type of photography, I couldn't turn down the opportunity. After all, when you have a horse that is as much of a diva as Indy, professional portraits are a must.

Indy in her dramatic diva pose.

The Portraitures were done by Giana Terranova Photography and she is fantastic! She is very patient with the horses (Indy wouldn't be a true diva if she didn't make getting a good shot at least a little bit difficult) and professional. Giana made the trip to Scottsdale, but she is in the Orange County, CA area. Her prices are very good and she does a great job. If you live in that area, I'd highly recommend her. Even if you don't, it'd be worth looking into getting enough people together to pay for her trip to come to you. Check out her website to see all of the services that she offers. I plan on doing a photo session of Indy and I with her next time as well as another Portraiture session. I want one of Winn too.. I am also considering booking her to do some of the horses at the track as a gift for owners. I almost did it this time and am really regretting that I didn't now.

Love this one!

My pretty girl!

Also, it's a pleasure to introduce Indy's boyfriend, Stewart, to all of you. And what better way to introduce him than through the the beautiful portraits done by Giana

Indy definitely has good taste! She LOVES Stewart and is SO much nicer to ride when he is around.

Seriously though, isn't he beautiful? A huge thanks to his owner, Jill, for letting me post some of Stewart's portraits!

I'm so happy to have these pictures of Indy! Next time I will probably braid and, if she needs it, body clip. I like that I went with keeping it simple in these first ones though. She looks how I know her and there are no words that I can use to describe Indy that will sum her up as well as these photographs do. They capture everything about her. Thank you so much Giana!

I'm going to order a canvas of one of the portraits. Which one do you guys like?

Friday, December 4, 2015

November Ramblings

Key- Shapes in the left hand corner are days that I rode. I'm using the vet symbol for lessons. The ribbons are shows. I haven't quite figured out what combo of symbols to use for clinics yet. The app I am using is okay, but has a lot of room for improvement.


11/1-Arrived home late in the evening from our trip to the Breeder's Cup sick.

We flew in and out of Louisville because it was way cheaper than flying to Lexington. Can you see Churchill Downs in the picture? Seeing it made me want to go to the Derby again.

11/2-11/7- Full-fledged death flu. Every time I fly, I pick up some form of illness. EVERY. TIME.

11/8- Wherein I drug my sick self out to the barn because I had a show coming up. Indy rewarded me for her nice vacation by having a tantrum and acting like she was going to throw herself on the ground. Over walk/halt, halt/walk transitions. 

11/9- Repeat of the day before.

11/10- A much needed lesson. After the previous two days, I had abandoned all hope that it would go well. Indy suddenly decided to act all angelic right after I told my trainer how big of a hag she had been for the previous two rides. 

11/12- Another lesson, this time in the arena on the hill, where Indy decided to behave.

11/13- Indy had filling in her left ankle, but was sound on it. We had a very light, quick ride.

11/14- Her first show. Not great, but not a disaster. She was calm and behaved for the most part.

My trainer taking pics because getting Indy to that first show took a hell of a lot of time and effort.

11/15-11/18- I didn't ride in hopes that the flu from Hell would finally go away.

11/19- Another lesson. I didn't lunge and Indy was fresh from the four days off, but settled down fairly quick for her. We ended up having another good lesson.

11/20-11/21- Two more good rides.

11/23-11/24-Two VERY good rides.

11/25-The lesson where Indy tried to buck me off.

11/27-An okay ride.

11/28-Light ride.

11/29-Tracey Lert Clinic. No serious mishaps, learned a lot. Loved riding with her (post coming soon)!

If you take out the days I was sick, I actually rode 15/20 days and Indy only had one day off between rides otherwise. Obviously, 15 rides a month isn't going to be enough, but I'll give myself a pass considering the ten days that I felt like I was dying. I would have liked to have gotten a lesson or two more in, four of them still helped a lot though. Add the show and the clinic to those and this turned out to be a pretty good month when it comes to learning.

I liked the three days of being ridden/one day off schedule for Indy. For the most part, it seemed to work well.

This is Aggie, one of the horses in training at the track, who Indy seems to be the dressage version of. Aggie ended up being worth all of the extra time and effort, hopefully Indy will too. 

Plans for December riding-

I'd like to get on a four days on, one off, three days on, one off schedule since she is getting more fit and stronger. There are no shows or clinics that I know of yet, so I'm going to try to get as many lessons in as possible.

Indy is getting laser therapy and a chiro adjustment on Saturday. We will do thermal imaging too, so it will be interesting to see what that shows. 

On Sunday, she has a Portraiture session that I'm super excited about! I was going to body clip her, but she is already starting to shed out and one of my rules is to never body clip after they start shedding because it always seems to make their coats look nasty once it starts growing again. Of course I would own an elephant that hairs up in 100°+ weather in September and starts shedding when the low gets down to 35° in December.

What's it like to have a normal, predictable horse? I've forgotten.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Should Have Known Better

First off, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Of course, the day after writing a post about why my horse isn't in full training, Indy would pull the worst shit she ever has.

I should have known that it was going to be a bad day when Hirsch made a solid attempt at dislocating my elbow which caused it to make an incredibly disgusting popping sound. The temptation to just cancel the lesson after that was pretty high, but I have a clinic this weekend and figured that some riding wisdom was probably needed beforehand. I thought that as long as Indy was good, it shouldn't hurt too much. 

I didn't get to the barn in time to lunge, so I just tacked Indy quickly and headed out. She hasn't really needed to be lunged lately anyway, so no big deal right? That was mistake #1.

Mistake #2 was opting to ride in the arena on the hill instead of the covered. I'm trying to be better about riding her outside of her comfort zone, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Mistake #3 was thinking that she would be pretty chill since she had been ridden hard the last couple days. I forgot that she inherited the thoroughbred stamina and not only doesn't get tired easily, but also recovers quickly if she does.

This was from the night before.

So I walk her around while my trainer finished her other lesson and I'm all sorts of proud of Little Miss Sweet Pea because she's gotten so much braver and more confident in the last couple of months. She didn't even spook at the guy dragging the garbage can on a cart on the hill above her.

The lesson started off well enough with some pretty nice walk work. Then we started trotting and that was pretty good too until a lady brought a horse to the barn above us. Indy got distracted for a bit, but went back to work. Then another lady came to grab her horse out of the barn and let it away. Once again, Indy got distracted but went back to work again.

Mistake #4 was heading towards the letter S, which my little darling decided that she should suddenly be terrified of.

It unfolded like this:

Indy spooked at the evil S.

Me: What the hell?

Indy buck #1.

Me: Shit!

Indy buck #2.

Me: That should be the end of it, but I can't get her head back up.

Indy buck #3.

Me: That one was even bigger than the last two.

Indy buck #4.

Me: Did my always calm and collected trainer just sound worried? I'm so screwed!

Indy buck #5.

Me: At least the footing is soft out here.

Indy buck #6.

Me: If I come off today, it's going to be a full year of dealing with this crap.

Indy buck #7.

Me: I am NOT coming off!

Indy buck #8.

Me: I wonder if she is going to take a flying leap over the rail of the arena or turn.....

Indy buck #9.

Me: At least she turned.

Indy buck #10.

Me: There goes my stirrup, it's official: I'm going to hit the dirt today.

Indy buck #10.5 (because it was about half the size of the rest).

Me: Please! Noooo moooore!

End Indy's bucking spree.

Me: I'm gonna kill her!!! And why the hell wasn't there someone around to capture that on video?

Me to my trainer: "Did I at least score a ten for that?" She kind of chuckled and said that I did. "I think that I need to lunge the living piss out of her!"


Trainer asked if I wanted her to go grab a lunge and the side reins. I gratefully accepted her offer because let's face it, the chances of my riding Indy  until she was tired without getting bucked off was slim to none. That bucking episode already had me exhausted. I'm not a bronc rider and I don't want to be and I find absolutely no shame in that. I rode Indy around in her "safe" area waiting until the trainer was almost back because there was no way in Hell that I was going to immediately jump off of her. Heifer is a smart one and she would have put two and two together pretty damn quick.

My trainer came back with the gear and then left to feed lunch while I lunged the princess. I made Indy canter A LOT. And no, I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about it. The lungeing worked in that it got her a bit tired, though most horses at her stage of training and fitness would have been exhausted. It didn't work in that not being able to escape the contact of the side reins REALLY pissed her off.

Trainer came back and I got back on. Indy was still looking for an excuse to get set off, but was at least tired enough that I could talk her out of it. She was a cow about contact and never really relaxed, so once we got a few good circles of trot work in, we called it a day.

I'm pretty pissed for several reasons. One  is that I finally just got to the point where I trusted her not to do anything really bad. Another is that I can understand a spook and a buck or two from a young horse, hogging it across the arena isn't acceptable. I'm also mad because I'm pretty sure that she still wasn't tired even after that. The last reason that I'm pissed is because I'm pretty sure that I would be hurting a lot less right now if I actually had come off. Being pissed is probably a good thing in that it makes me more determined. It's better than being scared.

It feels like some one beat me with a bat and I definitely need to try to get a chiro appointment tomorrow. The elbow isn't feeling so great and now the shoulder is right there with it. On a good note, my neck seems to have come out mostly unscathed. It's stiff, but I can get out of bed so that's a good sign that I didn't injure it again. Apparently, I'm getting old or something. By the way, you would not believe the amount of ab strength that it takes to ride a bucking horse for that long. Though those being sore is probably a good thing. The gym has nothing on Indy.

It's not that Indy bucked super hard, kicking in the hind end and/or twisting in the body, but she bucked plenty hard enough. It was those head down between her legs, four-legged bucks. At least she stayed straight for the most part and wasn't doing the side to side crap. However, she bucked for a LONG time. It was a nasty move on her part. Indy probably could have tried a little harder to get me off, but she also could have tried a lot less. 

What bothered me most was her eye. Usually, it's really soft. While I was lungeing her and before I got off, it definitely was anything but. It wasn't a frightened eye either. It was a mean one. It probably sounds crazy, but I swear that she was giving me a death look for the rest of our time together that day. I've seen horses that naturally have mean looking eyes, but I've never seen that drastic of a change from soft to evil in such a short time. It was a bit disturbing. 

Do not be fooled by her prettiness!

I ended up promising the trainer that I will lunge Indy before I ride for the time being. I don't like lungeing very often or for very long, but I also don't like getting bucked off. So, for now she will get lunged. 

We have a clinic on Sunday in the lower outdoor where they have the vinyl tarp-like signs that flap in the wind. Pray that it isn't windy on Sunday. I will really not be happy if I waste $150 to spend an hour just trying not to die. In the meantime, Indy is going to experience lots of flapping things in an attempt to get her over that stuff more. Unfortunately, it usually takes her a year to get over things. Wish me luck.

Before I go, I should say that I have a much deeper respect for those that can really ride broncs. Holy muscles!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why My Horse Isn't In Full Training

Another of my trainer's students and I were talking the other day about how our trainer is one of the few (at least in our area) that doesn't insist on having your horse in training. There are a lot of trainers out there these days that require the horses in their barn to be in full or, or at least, partial training. I guess that I can understand their reasoning, though some seem to push it just a bit too far. That's fine for some people, but what about those that want to *gasp* ride their own horses several times a week?

A trainer requiring full training would never work for me right now, though I might be able to tolerate partial, and here is why:

1. I need tools for the future. I'm most likely never going to be able to afford a "made" horse. There could be times that I don't have access to a trainer at all. Therefore I have to learn to be able to ride and teach difficult horses like Indy, just in case I ever end up with another knothead like her again. No, I have no desire to train other people's horses. I would still like to be able to train my own at least half way decently though.

Fall of her 2 year old year.

2. My trainer has never said that she needs to ride my horse for me. If she thought that I couldn't handle Indy, she'd be the first to tell me that something needed to change. My trainer is the one that gave me the confidence I needed in my ability to ride my horse through the hard times. If she thinks I can do it, I can. If she told me that she needed to ride Indy for awhile and I needed to not, I trust her and that is the direction we would go.
She hasn't.

3. I enjoy the process. Okay, maybe not every single day, but as a whole. When Indy and I have a breakthrough, I take a lot of pride in it because I worked so hard for it. Watching my trainer get my horse to do things that I can't yet just isn't as fulfilling to me. Indy's training might come along much slower because of this, but that doesn't bother me.

She was so damn cute!

4. I need to believe in myself. Riding Indy through the difficult stuff builds my confidence. A person can never be a good rider if they aren't confident. 

5. I give too much up to be able to ride. The fiancé and I sacrifice a lot so that I can ride my horses. I don't mind at all, yet I'd rather not give those things up just to sit and watch my horse be ridden and shown by my trainer if it isn't necessary. Saddle time is important for my health and happiness.

6. Learning is fun. I'd rather gain knowledge along with my horse. Climbing on Indy after she gets  over all of her issues won't teach me nearly as much.

7. I'm not independently wealthy. While I could probably scrape together the money for full training, it would definitely make things really tight. I wouldn't have much money for lessons and only being able to take one a month would suck!

Spring of her two year old year.

8. I'm not scared of my horse. Not that there hasn't been those "Please God, don't let me die!" moments, yet I've lived through them all. It took a long time to trust that Indy isn't going to do anything extremely nasty, but I've learned to stay relaxed and ride her through it when she is tense or misbehaving. If I were really scared of her, she would go straight into full training.

9. My tendency to take the hard road. It would probably make life much easier to just have my trainer do all of the hard work. I've never been one for the easy route though.

10. I enjoy riding my horse. Once again, not every single time, but as a whole. I'm lucky to have horses to ride at all and I feel that I need to take advantage of that whenever possible.

I'm certainly not against it when necessary and I've put a horse in full training before. I'd do it with Indy if she was throwing stuff at me that I couldn't handle. There's nothing wrong with a person's trainer riding their horse at all, it just depends on the owner's capabilities and wants. At this point, I just want to enjoy as much time on my horse's back as possible. That doesn't mean I'd be opposed to an occasional trainer ride, but I would like to do as much of the work as I can myself for now. Is that so bad?

What do you guys think about having your horse be required to be in partial or full training?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Indy's First Show

I'd like to say that I just love showing, but the fact is that I NEED to show. In the sandbox in front of a judge is where I'm happiest, where I'm the most confident, and where I seem to learn the most. I don't know why, maybe it's because I've shown in one form or another since I could sit on a horse by myself. Maybe I just like to try and show off. For whatever reason, a show is my happy place.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but she seriously seems to love her bonnet.

When my trainer told me that a schooling show was coming up at our barn I decided that we should sign up even though I didn't feel that Indy and I were quite ready for it (my idea of being ready is being confident that we can score a 65% or higher). However, it was the best possible experience I could give her for a first show. I'd rather bring the "scary stuff" to her than take her to it in a completely new environment for her first outing. To feel like I wasn't completely taking advantage of the situation and making it too easy on us, I did only ride her twice in the arena we would be showing in beforehand. It can take dozens of rides for Indy to get over things she doesn't like, so I thought that was reasonable.

The beginning of the week before the show had been rough. I had a left for Kentucky and came back with the flu, so Indy had about ten days off after having a lesson where she was a raging cow. Not good. To top it off, I only had six more days to get ready for the show.

From awhile ago, laughing at her shenanigans.

Fortunately, I have an awesome trainer that is very good at giving me confidence when I need it (I'm not scared of my horse, just of sucking). We had two pretty decent lessons on Tuesday and Thursday which left me feeling like I could at least make it through the tests. I prepared myself to get scores in the 40s because Indy is Indy and decided that was okay as long as she wasn't a complete psycho.

Then I came out the day before the show and Indy's leg looked like this:

Of course it did, because Indy.

She didn't react when I pushed on it and seemed to be walking sound. I didn't have anyone there to jog her for me and didn't want her tearing around on the lunge if it was something serious, so I hopped on to see what she felt like. She wasn't sore. I decided to ice her and just wait to see what it looked like in the morning figuring I should probably scratch just to be safe. 

It was almost back to normal the next day. I decided that I might as well at least warmup and if my trainer said that she didn't look right then I would scratch. I lunged her more than I wanted to, but she was just a little too fresh. This show was all about keeping her calm and relaxed. She worked on the lunge until the kink in her tail was mostly gone and she was listening well enough to do lots of transitions, about twenty minutes, and headed for the warmup. *Note: she was sound lungeing.

Miss Lumpy

More than anything, I was worried about the warmup. Indy can get a pretty amped with just one or two horses working in the arena with her, I didn't know how she would react to the increase in traffic.

She was so good! Which is a good thing since the warmup at a schooling show, especially this one, can be quite unsettling. In the words of the ring steward, the warmup was "about like trying to herd cats". Poor lady. 

Indy stood quietly when I wanted her to. She looked at some things, but never did anything bad. When the psycho rider on a really short Appaloosa (Indy finds little horses quite intimidating) come barreling towards us head on, we didn't have the room or time to get out of the way. Indy jumped sideways and spun to avoid having a head on. Honestly, I froze and she saved our asses then settled down like nothing had happened. After that, she was just a bit hesitant to get too close to horses. No big deal, I didn't blame her.

She's a little distracted, but I was just happy that she managed to control herself and her head didn't end up in my face at any point coming down the centerline or in the halt.

Our first class was Intro C. Indy was looking at some things and ducked just a bit a couple of times, all green horse stuff that was expected. I was mostly just wanting her to stay calm and she did that. She was a bit of a witch for the canter work, tossing her head to evade the contact some. That was also expected. Other than that, the bad parts of the test were my fault. I was only aiming to get around there with no serious mishaps and didn't ride for the quality that I should have. We scored a 59.7, which was probably on the generous side. I figured it was a lot better than the 40 I was expecting and was happy with the experience gained.

Posing after her first dressage test ever.

Our second test was Training 1. This one started off a lot better. Indy was more focused and I was riding better. Until I was coming out of our canter circle and some other guy was standing his horse right at F talking and making hand gestures. It distracted me, it distracted Indy, and she broke into a trot. I looked straight at him and loudly said "Damn it!" which the judge didn't hear, or at least pretended not to, fortunately. She gave me an error and I got to do the movement over again. The rest of the test went well, the canter work was a bit better, and the trot work was pretty good. We scored a 60.8 and I was happy with that.

On my way out of the arena, a lady decided to stand literally right next to A, waiting to go in, so that we had to walk within a foot of her to get out. I told her that Indy might overreact to her being that close, but she didn't try and move until I was right next to her. Indy jumped sideways and hit the flowers boxes at the entrance then jumped forward. I just ignored the lady, accepting that the world has apparently gone stupid. 

My trainer was warming up on another horse and said "You would have thought she could have at least let you out of the arena!". I readily agreed and then proceeded to ask her what kind of fucking idiot (meaning the guy) stands their horse right next to the arena while they are talking during someone's test? She said that stuff wouldn't happen at a recognized show and I agreed again.

The fact is schooling shows are meant for green horses and inexperienced riders. Some of the other riders were excessively stupid that day (I learned that men are the absolute worst in the warmup), but all of the craziness was really good for Indy. I couldn't be happier or more proud of how well she handled everything. This is a horse that will still spook at her own shadow (she literally did that the day before the show), the dressage letters, the mounting block, short horses, etc. etc., if she isn't in the right mindset on any given day. Her behavior was extremely good for where we are at right now.

Most importantly, she seemed to enjoy the experience, approaching all of the activity with the curiosity that I love so much in young horses. It was possibly her inner diva enjoying all of the attention she was getting in her bling bonnet too, which is fine with me. Good horses like to go out there and perform. I think that Indy will be like that. For now, we'll just keep chugging along and working more on submission.

Good girl!

My trainer said that maybe Indy likes to be a show horse. Please, let that be true because finding things that Indy likes isn't the easiest thing to do. So, our first show wasn't exactly a record setting performance. That's okay. It's a good baseline to work from.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Worth It

I went out late last night to ride Indy. It was just below 80° with a light breeze when I left for the barn and I figured that it would be a quiet and relaxing time to ride (plus, it was either ride then or not at all). It was an off night for the kiddie lessons and the loudest screaming riding instructor in the world. Yep, it was going to be perfect.

When I pulled up there were cars at the riding school (kiddie lesson) barn. Crap. Whatever. The vocals from the trainer and hyper children are good exposure for Indy.

I get out of the truck and realize that the wind has picked up. A lot. Eh, wind usually doesn't bother her too much.

As I turn Indy out (I like putting her out for about a half hour before I ride her), she is blowing and snorting. When I turn her loose, she takes off tearing around the paddock. No big deal. At least she's getting it out of her system, she'll settle in a bit.

Bringing Indy in, she is still blowing and snorting with her tail straight in the air as she prances next to me. That's fine, the Thermotex blanket usually relaxes her. She'll chill out when I put it on.

She was probably just really looking forward to getting a bath. Because you can see here how much she loves them...

The blanket is pulled off and Indy continues randomly snorting at things. We've spent most of the time the blanket is on helping her remember that she is supposed to stand politely in the cross ties (I don't tolerate my horses wallowing around in them). As I tack her up, I start to think that this could be a VERY ugly exciting ride. My hopes of her being sane quickly diminish. What the hell, if it's bad it's bad. Not the end of the world. She probably won't kill me.

On a happy blanket day.

On the way to the mounting block Indy continues with the snorts. She might not kill me.

I lead her to the mounting block and climb on prepared for her to feel like she's going to blow. I sit in the saddle and....

She drops her head, waits for me to ask her to walk off, and then proceeds with a nice forward and relaxed walk on a loose rein to the arena. Okay, now I'm just confused.

The second I got on, she was all like "Oh, hey human! Where you been? Nice of you to show up. Can we get to work now?"

Um, sure Indy....

We proceeded to have a really nice ride as the kids acted like kids do, the trainer yelled, and the wind blew (creating strange, moving shadows in the dark beyond the lighted arena). My horse was good through all of it. MY HORSE! The one that (literally) will sometimes spook at her own shadow. She lost focus for a couple of seconds here and there, but other than that I couldn't have hoped for better.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, at least not with most horses. Indy is another story.

Not long ago, I would have seen the kid lessons and been pretty convinced that the ride would have sucked. The yelling trainer would have helped prove me right. Add the wind and I would have assumed that the ride would be completely hopeless.

Not long ago, if she'd acted like that going to the mounting block, I would have been wishing that I had my vest (that I wear on the rare occasions that I gallop at the track) on. I would have been wishing this because I would have known that there was absolutely no chance of getting her brain focused.

Not long ago, riding on a night like this would have been Hell.

So, I'm proud of my horse. Indy had lots of excuses to act like an idiot and she didn't. She was just as focused (as Indy gets at her maturity level) with all of that as she is when everything is quiet. When it came to her job, she got right down to business. Dare I say it? Could it be possible that Indy is starting to show signs of professionalism?

She's come a long way since this was taken.

I know that there will still be bad rides ahead of us. She will have those days where she will answer the questions I ask of her with her way of telling me to piss off. That's okay. They're happening less often.

I've pushed myself to be patient, to try not to get frustrated, to just keep trying in general. I've done my best to push, but not force (it wouldn't work anyway), and to make it very clear when she gives the correct response. Sometimes it gets the results I want, sometimes it doesn't.

My other "birthday present", but that's a long story that needs to be told another day...

Indy is beginning to work with me instead of fighting me the whole way. We're FINALLY starting to build that relationship that it takes to be successful in dressage. I've certainly made mistakes along the way, yet learned from them. There is a long ways to go still, but the foundation is becoming sturdier every ride. Brick by damn brick.

Has anyone else's most talented horse also been the most difficult?

*I figured I should mention that Indy's "bad" isn't that bad. It's usually more of a hard-headed "I don't want to" or "I'm going to look for every excuse I can to lose focus and ignore you" type of thing. She's never done anything more than a crow hope and has only had a few major spooks. The difference between when she really spooks and when she is looking for an excuse to spook us pretty obvious. 90% if the time she isn't truly scared if something. Her bad behavior is rarely something that could get me hurt. There were/are times when she feels like a volcano ready to erupt, but she hasn't ever blown.  The things that were a little dangerous were just typical young horse stuff. The misbehaving that I talk about are mental blocks that keep us from progressing as much as I'd like to and take her longer than most horses to get past. Hence, the patience she has tested taught me.