Saturday, August 21, 2010

Family dynamics

I had a long talk with Boo yesterday. I needed to apologize for neglecting him this summer. I normally ride much more often then I've been, he usually gets more baths and grooming sessions, and we usually get out on a couple of trail rides. Family issues have been keeping me away from the barn a lot this summer, and we are about to have another 2-week session due to my sister arriving from Wyoming for her annual visit. I'll be spending quite a bit of time with her and my mom, and once again not so much time with Boo. This time, however, I have made arrangements for Sarah to ride and give him some time and attention. She'll work him but she will love on him too.

I also needed to apologize to him for the family dynamic that has cropped up between the animals in the family. Now, I don't take the dogs out to the barn much. Quite frankly, they live with me full time and when I'm out there I want the horses to have my attention without the distraction of the dogs...but Baythoven is out there 24/7 and sometimes he sucks up all the attention in the vicinity. You all recognize that dynamic right? The kid who is always into something whether it's trouble or illness or just a lot of time consuming activities? The one who sucks up all the energy in the house? The often times problem child that everyone obsesses over leaving the quiet, self-reliant, competent kids to fend for themselves? Well, that's what Baythoven is like, and sometimes that leaves Boo on his own while we try to deal with Baythoven's next crisis, illness, or show...

So, I needed to give Boo some undivided attention and yesterday he got it. I didn't even look at Baythoven. Boo and I had the barn to ourselves and it was all about our partnership. I must say even without my doting attention Boo is looking good. We groomed and tacked up and headed to the indoor to start our warm up. He was a little to snorty for the outdoor if no one else was going to be around. Somebody needs to remind him that he's 21.

We did our usual warm up, and I already knew that the work out was going to be about lateral movement. We started in the walk and worked up to the trot. At first he was a bit lazy so I gave him more leg...then he started to speed up. He'd give me a nice working trot down the center line and when I'd ask for the leg yield he would get FASTER and FASTER and FASTER not listening to anything I had to say on the subject.

I don't know his motivation because he can't tell me, but I suspect it could be
1. He is ticked off at me.
2. He is trying to get the leg yield over with as quickly as possible.
3. It is easier for him to do at a faster pace.

Whatever!!!! I immediately changed the focus of the lesson to one of listening to my cues. We headed down the center line at a working trot, and then I would tighten my tummy muscles and slow my seat to get the slowest trot I could get without him stopping completely. We would go a few strides and I would push him forward into a lengthening then bring him back to working and push to lengthening then bring him back to jog, etc. Once I established that he was listening I sent him down the center line and started to leg yield. I used the same cues to adjust to the tempo I wanted and he was much better.

Our canter work was short but sweet. No hesitation, just stepped into a nice smooth canter and kept the pace. I suspect he was actually happy to finish with the lateral work and do a nice easy canter ;)

All in all I spent a good 2 hours with Boo giving him my undivided attention. I talked to him the entire time, and I don't know if he feels better but I sure do.


  1. We miss you and Phantom too Mary. Wish you were still out there with us. Sounds like you and Gen are liking your new place though, and I am happy that it is working out for you.

  2. I just spent some time with Jesse...I always have to ride Lady and a friend or cousin rides Jesse. He let me know recently...that he needed mom time so next ride is JESSE'S! I felt better too...