Seven months with Mae
July began rather decently and quickly melted away into a bubbling mess of a month. I’ve been absolute garbage at getting lessons in and haven’t been able to have one since June, as work and other priorities have taken the focus this summer. I try not to beat myself up over it, especially when I see others making such progress. Shifting priorities is one of those adult things that are a fact of life, and Mae is still in full training with my trainer. As such, these are a few of the things I’ve noticed when I hack her:
- Accepts contact in the bit more frequently
- Both my trainer and I enjoy riding her in the heat. She’s less frisky and more tired, so there’s less energy for antics (note: one HUGE antic notwithstanding)
- Rounds her body around my inside leg
- Willing works into the corners when asked
- Over ground poles (haven’t jumped outside lessons), she needs some encouragement. She looks to her rider and ground handler for direction and confidence.
- More sensitive to body position / movement than Ryon. I’ve noticed that when I trot her down a long vertical, I can subtly look in the direction that I want to turn in and she’ll respond accordingly.
Mae is still wary around strangers, particularly non-horse people. She picks up on others’ anxiety / excitement, tossing her head when they try to pet her (and significantly calms down when they feed her treats). She’s a bright girl, and I was able to teach her how to smile in one 15 minute session. It was more difficult than with Ryon because for him, it was rewarding a behavior that he already performed. She also finally stopped getting attacked by the other horses in the turnout. She’s learned to leave them alone; they don’t want to play with her or chase her around (or be chased around).
Physically, she’s round and muscled out. Finally! The horse has been a bag of bones for half a year, and now she’s finally starting to fill out. She’s still on canola oil and Cool Calories. A fat OTTB in the summer time is exactly what we wanted. It’s hot enough already, and August won’t be any cooler. On Fridays, we have spa afternoons where she’ll get a full shampoo and we’ll just chill out. It’s 100 degrees out in the afternoon and in the mornings, it’s already close to 90. They have shade in their turnouts but she is soaked in sweat when she comes in at 2 pm.
The ONE GIGANTIC FRUSTRATING NEGATIVE that throws a wrench into our training is that Mae continues to be the hugest faker. I’ve never seen anything like it before. She’s acted 100% lame with me (only me) four times now, particularly when I pull her out of her turnout or stall to do some work. Girl, I get it. It is freaking HOT, and the last thing anyone wants to do is sweat some more. Usually I can chase the fakeness out of her, but she can now keep it up through the walk and trot for an entire training session. The other day, I ran out of patience and put her on a lunge line until she was dripping sweat and foaming. People had to stop and comment / complain because I looked like I was chasing around my horse who clearly had a broken leg. I’d be incredibly worried about it, and the first few times I was, except that she is always sound the previous day when my trainer rides her, and sound in the morning in the turnout. It’s only in the evenings when I get ready to ride her that she somehow comes up limping. It’s not an issue with her tack, as she’s acted lame under both conditions (see below video). My working assumption now is that she’s not lame unless her leg is missing. I hate that this is what it’s come to, so we’re going to have the vet come out tomorrow and double check her just in case. She limps on her leg that had the abscess this spring, and I wonder if that’s how she learned to limp to get out of a ride. If any of you have any advice or have ever experienced anything like this, please let me know!
It’s all an unfortunate development because I feel like I’ve just recently gained genuine trust and confidence with her. Even though she continues to be nervous around strange things, she rarely spooks under saddle anymore. Her anxiety level has come down a few notches since this spring.
For our August Goals, we’re going to keep it simple because it’s going to be broiling hot:
On the ground, have her move away from slight pressure on her shoulder and her hind.
Stop with the fakery.
That’s it and that is all. I’ll keep y’all posted on the fake lameness, if I don’t bash my head in with frustration first.