Brainwashing Step 1

Feel free to laugh.  I’m calling this the month of the brainwashing!! It may turn into the summer of brainwashing, (sigh) that is yet to be determined.

Win: My horse carried my gloves around for me yesterday.

Win: My horse carried my gloves around for me yesterday.

Before and after each ride I’m forcing my horse to reacquaint herself with jumps in a positive way.  Not by actually jumping them, but but walking in, around, thru, by, on top of whatever obstacles are out in the ring that particular day.  Last Sunday was our first date with the jumps, and she wanted to stop, sniff, huff at and generally stare down half the jumps in the ring.  But for once I swallowed my internal “Oh my God horse you’ve seen these a million times—WHY ARE YOU NOW SCARED OF THEM ALL?” scream and quietly made her work back and forth over the poles, over the fill, by the gates.  Whatever she stared at, she had to stand in it, by it, until she didn’t give a rats ass anymore.

Every time you could see the second she gave up, she would drop her neck, and usually rub her nose on the formerly offensive object.  I would then praise her brilliance and rub her neck/mane where she loves it.  By the time we got around the whole arena she was all about it and started poking stuff with her nose as we got up to it, looking for attention when she did.  She licked and chewed her way around the last few so I considered this exercise a success.  I’m hoping to do this each ride, pending busy factor in the arena.

It wasn’t until I got in my car that I admit I cried out of sheer frustration.  In what world would I ever guess my horse would regress this far back.  It IS stupid, but I feel like she’s betraying me.  While I know she’s not the deep emotionally, I just have a feeling this spring is going to be more rough on me, than her.

All she wants is grass.

All she wants is grass.

I’m willing to work with her, because she deserves it and I want to.  But no one said I won’t go a little crazy in the process.

She already thinks I'm crazy.

She already thinks I’m crazy.

19 thoughts on “Brainwashing Step 1

  1. It sounds like you are doing great work.

    I have been there myself and I know how frustrating it is. Horses are usually the fun party of our days, it’s awful when they become the hard part. Keep at it! I’m rooting for you 🙂

  2. I think what you’re doing is a great plan, but also, have you tried tryptophan? I’m using the smart calm with magnesium and tryptophan and so far loving it. The andalusion breeder at the barn told me if you want a horse with a good mind make sure they have fat and tryptophan. Something else to try possibly. I know how frustrating it is, keep at it!

  3. It is so tough and so frustrating! I don’t know how many times I just wanted to scream “STOP spooking at the F&*$% poles already!!”. I have been trying something new lately as well–very similar to what you are doing. I will set up all sorts of scary things (not that hard considering a ground pole is scary for my mare if its moved 2 inches from the day before). Then I will work her away from these spots on something mentally or physically hard like half pass to figure-eight to half pass other way and then take breaks at the scary objects. Before long she was looking for objects to park at instead of making googly eyes at them.

  4. I definitely understand this. It is so hard (mentally) when you want to be making progress but feel like you are starting over. You have a good plan, so it will all work out :).

    Also, I have been following Anna Marciniak on Facebook lately. She is a little….extreme…but I absolutely love her perspective on things. If you can find her post on “Mind Less, Worry Less” and “First of all, take care of yourself,” they are really great reads! They have really helped me see how my mental/emotional state has really been influencing Estella’s, too. I get so upset and disappointed and worried about her leg, which is mentally and emotional weak of me, and she mirrors that. I have been making a point to accept things how they are and trying to stay as positive as possible and I am seeing a huge difference in not only her attitude, but even her leg. No matter what, it is making me feel better in other aspects of my life, too. (If you can’t find the posts and want to see them LMK I can send them to you).

  5. Sometimes you gotta cry it out. If riding horses and training them and participating in this passion/hobby/sport were easy, it wouldn’t feel nearly as good when you accomplish a milestone. I’m glad you’re sticking with her and persevering.

  6. I struggle with a mare who likes to randomly call my bluff and refuse. Though ours is slightly different. No stopping, no matter how terrifying at home but will stop at a simple cross rail at shows.
    Very frustrating and I have gained a small bit of tension knowing it is coming. Ugh

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