The Pony returned from her time at the Evergreen State Fair on Saturday, which meant she got to have Sunday off before our normal week of rides. I expected to have a short, unremarkable week—especially since my birthday was Thursday—but the week ended up being more eventful than I expected, although not necessarily in a good way…
Our Monday morning ride started with a lot of the Pony’s signature bratty behavior. She had attitude to spare in the cross ties, but I didn’t lunge her out before I hopped on because there were two small beginners in the ring that I didn’t want to intimidate. She was very uppity at first, so I buckled down and pushed her through her paces right away. We warmed up with some circles and then dug into our trot to canter and canter to trot transitions. We worked our way into a lot of simple lead changes (figure 8’s, serpentines, changes down the center line, etc.). She did very well and had a very active walk during our cool off. I talked with the Trainer afterwards and it sounds like she’s ready to start schooling her flying changes, woo!
After her hard work out on Monday, the Pony wasn’t very pleased to go for another ride on Tuesday. She was trouble right from the start; she tried to snag some hay out of an empty stall on our way into the cross ties and then she knocked over an entire muck bucket while I was using the restroom before our ride! Not only that, but she was in a grumpy, belligerent mood under saddle. Her llama neck was back and it took a good forty minutes of warm up to get her back down on the bit before we could go back to working on our simple lead changes. Even then, she wasn’t focused and I could tell her heart wasn’t in it, so we put on a small gait demo for two of the Trainer’s young cowboys and then called it quits for the day.
On Wednesday it was very clear that the Pony was unhappy and sore. The moment I put her in the cross ties she was unusually mad, and her behavior only escalated when the saddle came out. She pinned her ears back, nipped at the air, and generally threw a fit about being tacked up. I took her over to the arena and had a quick talk with the Trainer, then mounted up. She was very sluggish, so we focused on softening her up during our warm up (flexing her nose in, bending into circles, encouraging her to stretch her neck out long and low, etc.). The Trainer had the Circle of Death (eight ground poles in a circle) set up. We trotted around the circle and had some trouble with the Pony locking up around the bit to the left, then gave it a shot at the canter with a couple of them up as cavaletti, but the Pony was clearly not excited to jump. We ended up dropping them to raised ground rails and I walked her over them for a while before giving up entirely.
I didn’t plan to come in on Thursday since the Trainer wasn’t at the stable for lessons (plus it was my birthday!), but in light of the Pony’s pretty miserable week, I set up an early morning appointment with Jennifer of Equine N Harmony. Jennifer spent an hour doing bodywork on the Pony and she was very kind and professional, even though Belle’s attitude bounced back and forth between insulted (ouch!), impatient (sigh!), and excited for treats (omnomnom!). In the end the Pony came out of it with less tension in her neck, shoulders, and glutes, plus a couple of adjustments to her back, ribs, hips, and heartgirth. Now the Pony has the long weekend off, so hopefully she’ll come out of it feeling refreshed and re-energized!