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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Violent Femmes

I may not always show it, but I have a side of me that is an aggressive Type A. When I'm matched with a Type B, I become overly-ambitious, highly competitive, exceptionally controlling, and very aggressive. I hate sitting still, I don't like to wait, and I want to do the things I want to do, NOW. This side of me comes in waves, but has been on the upswing over the past year - the more independent I get from other beings, the worse I am. Being financially and emotionally self-sufficient has distanced me from my peers, and I find myself disinterested with what others are thinking, feeling, and doing with themselves. I usually can counter these urges with the fact that I am an insufferable pleaser, and bend myself over backwards at work daily to try and make sure everyone leaves with a smile. But my job is mentally and physically exhausting, my days off are rare, the only time I could take off for a nice long vacation this year just got stripped from me, and I find myself getting increasingly edgy and short-tempered. I am a mean alpha mare waiting for some old pony to give me the wrong look so I can do some kicking and biting and feel better about myself and improve my increasingly bleak look on my existance.

Enter Gogo. She is also an alpha Type A. She doesn't put up with my crap.

I KNOW this. I know she doesn't put up with my nonsense. I know that when I get on her, I need to clear my head and let my day go, because my time with her is all about her. But when the stress of my job gets to be too much, it gets to me, and I carry it over to my rides. And with a horse in rehab, I just CAN'T do that. I CAN'T, because I can't stay on for longer, work her differently, change gaits, go on a hack instead. I don't have any of those tools available, so I have to start with a fresh slate every time I get on.

This past week, and this week, I have been slowly gearing her back up to where we were at pre-injections in order to prepare for the canter. She had her hocks done on the 15th, had thee days off, and then had six days of tackwalking where I spent two days walking on a loose rein for 30 minutes with 10 minutes of simple on the bit work, two days of the loose 30 and 15 on the bit, and two days of the loose 30 and 20 on the bit. This week, we have another six days in a row with two days of walking on a loose rein for 30 minutes, walking on the bit for 20, and trotting for 5 minutes, then adding five minutes of trot time every two days (5 minutes of trot the first two, 10 the second two, and 15 the final two). This schedule can't be altered. There is no room for error, and nothing I can do if something goes awry. Unless something is wrong with her, I can't skip a day. Usually, I make sure to arrive at the barn by 7:30AM so I can ride her first thing in the morning, when my head is clearest and I am at my most energized and happy. Tuesday, however, was a different story. I completely failed to get up on time, had a horrible day at work, and didn't get on until almost 5PM. I was in a foul, nit-picky mood, and she picked up on it right away, but ignored me for the most part and went about her business. She did nothing wrong the entire ride. Nothing! Except at the end, the very last thing I wanted to do was halt square. She didn't. I tried to halt again. She didn't halt square again. Not thinking that it really isn't fair to ask her to have the strength and balance to halt perfectly square when she hasn't even cantered in five months, I started to get irritated and insisted she halt faster and better. She threw up her head and gaped her mouth in protest. Ooookkkkay... that isn't a good sign. But you're going to do it, and you're going to do it right, and you're going to do it NOW. And while she perhaps could have done it, at this point she was no longer playing the game. One final attempt at a sharp halt on my part, and she threw her legs in all directions, flung her head sideways, gnashed her teeth, rolled her eyes, and gave me that 'if you get nasty with me one more time so help me god I will stand up and throw you over this fence.'

Two hard-headed mares colliding head on. I know when to back down.

I walked quietly for a few minutes more, letting us both relax for a minute. It's very humbling for me to not be able to do anything except just relax and let go. And after I did that? I asked for one final halt. BOOM! A leg in each corner, perfectly square. How about that.

Lesson learned. Ride before the stress of the day puts me in a bad place. The next day? I was on bright and early, and the sun was shining. After our obligatory walk work, we bumped the schedule up to 10 minutes of trot, and she gave me THE most spectacular 8 or 9-scoring stretchy trot, both directions, bouncing along like she had been doing it all her life. I couldn't help but smile, and the more I smiled, the lower she stretched. I put my leg on, and she stretched further and stepped bigger. I changed directions, she went even lower. Needless to say, even though the rest of the day was even worse than the day before, I clung to my sunrise ride all day, a little ray of light I could keep close to my heart even when all else was chaos around me.

Good mood, good ride. Bad mood, bad ride. That little mare keeps me right on track, and I can't thank her enough for it.

I have lots to write about, and never enough time. More later!


kippen64 said...

Here is a suggestion for dealing with a crap day before getting on your horse. Bash up something that doesn't feel pain. Best object is a punching bag. Just hang one up and give it a beating every time you feel aggro. When I was a child, I read a book that suggested that if you feel anger whilst on your horse, get off your horse, tie your horse up (or have someone hold it for you) and then go beat up some nettles or similar object until you feel better. Then and only then, get back on your horse. Anger and riding a horse don't mix.

Sorry for the lecture. I sympathise. Sometimes other people can be so frustrating!!!!

Andrea said...

Trust me, after three years of owning this mare, I know. Nothing is more humbling than getting the stink eye from her whilst in the saddle!

Dressager said...

Hmm.... sounds like me and Greta.

But a good ride is it's own reward, and I just have to go out looking for a good ride, not worry about any little nit-picky things Greta might do wrong. Because if I do then I over-correct and Greta gets all melodramatic and stressed (as do I) and it just goes to hell in a hand-basket from there.

Oh, mares, you gotta love 'em. Lots of humility and patience needed, definitely.

Actually, thanks for posting this, it really makes me feel so much better that I know I'm not the only person with stuff like that going on. Thank you!

Val said...

Oh I hear you.

My gelding is an alpha and the sensitive type. He loves it when I groom his face, but if a well-meaning person walks over and tries to give him a good-ole pat-pat on the forehead (good puppy)without greeting him first, he gets terribly annoyed and his facial expression is plain as day. Needless to say, if I revert to old riding habits or get tight and try to force him to do something, he puts his foot down.

On the other hand, treat him like a partner and there seems to be no limit to what he will do for me.