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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Friday, February 27, 2009

Patience, young grasshopper.

Oh yes, the title says it all. The current theme of my training is just exactly what you think it is: patience. The focus is on patience for myself, which in turn will instill patience in my young ward. We've come far in the past few months, and I am not about to let a few days of bad training erase all of that. So after the not-so-good ride on Tuesday and the really, REALLY awful ride on Wednesday (which actually was pretty good at the end, but...), I decided to drop the pressure way down and just do something relaxing on Thursday. So, during our lesson, we walked. We walked for an entire hour, just doing circles. That's all. And at the very, very end, we trotted for about 10 minutes. Nice, relaxed, stretchy trot. She started her champing nonsense about halfway through the walking - it's unusual, you can only see it on one side of her face. You could probably rip all you wanted on the left side of her face, but take a little bit more contact on the right side, which is her softer side? Gnashing at the bit when she's nervous. When we were walking, we'd halt. Gnash, gnash, then she's stop. Big pats. Relax. Then some more gnash, gnash... and stop. Big pats. Finally, she started to do it less and less. At the end, her mouth was quiet, and her transitions and demeanor were too. I stopped and got off, and she got today off to let that lesson settle into her head a little bit.

I wonder if she'd like a rubber/plastic type flexible mullen mouth bit. When she gets heavy on the left side, the bit can get pulled pretty far out of her mouth, and I wonder if then it doesn't pinch her when I take back on the right side, which then causes the gnashing. I think I'll see if I can dig one up tomorrow and give it a try. Who knows? Could be great, could be terrible.

I thought tonght that I'd discuss something interesting that I learned in my last equine business class. It's called a SWOT analysis, which is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. What you do is take whatever it is that needs an analysis (like your business for example, or in this case, my horse) and do an unbiased evaluation of the strengths of the thing, weaknesses of the thing, opportunities for the thing and whatever threatens the success of the thing. Here is a more detailed description of what a SWOT analysis is. I did one for Gogo last year, and have a new and updated one for this spring.

SWOT Analysis for Gogo Fatale February 2009

Dressage getting steadily better, rapidly improved in the past few months
Solidly working all 1st level movements with relative success and progression
Building 2nd level movements (renvers, travers, walk-canter-walk, collection, medium gaits, etc)
Extremely brave
Hardly ever phased by anything
Willing to jump almost anything; gutsy
Exceedingly scopey jumper
Attractive mover with three lovely gaits and a huge natural gallop
Getting a solid foundation of dressage put upon her
Has the speed and scope for mid to upper levels of eventing
Barefoot, great feet
Very athletic and catty jumper
Easy keeper with a fairly level head; doesn’t worry
Easy to take to shows and in general off property
Very sound (mild arthritic changes in hocks, have not bothered here since last July)
Always places very well at shows – getting more and more mature
Gets fit VERY easily

Fussy about contact sometimes - can get claustrophobic, champy with mouth
Neck a bit poorly set on – sometimes makes dressage work a challenge
Occasionally has 'mare days' and setbacks – but not as often as she used to
Moody sometimes – opinionated!
Can get hot, especially as of late
Sometimes green cross-country
Easy to get into dressage arguments with; holds grudges about fights
Gets very strong when jumping outside of an arena sometimes
Sometimes TOO smart for her own good... Gets mischievous when out of work
Hock arthritis already beginning, but not very advanced as of yet
Gets tense during dressage sometimes – hard to keep progressing
Prone to explosions when confused

Rated events
Rated dressage shows
Local jumper shows
Local clinics
Local instructors
Vicki (current dressage coach)
Auditing lessons/clinics
Reading material
Cross-country schooling whenever possible
Indoor arena to work with during wintertime
Ability to earn money – pay for shows, travel

Natural disasters
Weather-related events (floods, tornados, blizzards, etc)
Bad weather at shows – risk of slipping, falling, injuries
Other competitors with similarly talented horses
Seasoned horses/riders
Poor arena footing (currently NOT a threat! :D)
Equine sickness – infectious/non-infectious illness, physical trauma, etc.
Lameness/injury – esp. worried about hocks
Intelligence/bully attitude working against her – damaging
Lack of funds

I encourage everybody to do it for their own horse too, and then take a good look at it. Watch out for the things that are threatening, and have a plan and be prepared for them; have your eye out for opportunities and make sure to jump on them; enhance your strengths and make them even stronger; hone in on your weaknesses and work on fixing, minimizing or eliminating them.

As for tomorrow's dressage lesson? We'll be zoning in on our recent dressage weaknesses, namely the hotness and the tendancy to get nervous when she doesn't understand something. We'll just take things as slowly as we need to for now. For our Novice tests, we don't have to do anything more complicated than w/t/c, some two-loop serpentines, some diagonals, and some 20-meter circles. If that's what we need to work on for a little bit before we re-progress on to our more complicated 1st/2nd level work, then so be it.

Such is the way of life with mares, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


dp said...

Strength: eating hay
Weakness: apples
Opportunities: grass on front lawn
Threats: founder

Andrea said...

Hahaha! I like your better than mine.

Now That's A Trot! said...

Some days the best thing you can do with your horse is NOTHING! I think we all have days like that.

I am going to have to try that SWOT thing with Willie, it's pretty interesting.