Conquering the Overwhelm of Spring
I was feeling a bit overwhelmed the other day- the weather is unseasonably warm and mild. That’s good…but you know how sometimes good things can still feel overwhelming? Well, I was feeling antsy because I am anxious to ride more….but my horses have basically had the winter off so I need to get them all back up to snuff to go out on the trails again. Plus, another ~good~ thing… I added another horse to my herd. A pretty little mare that I named Willow. She is a TW black sabino and as sweet as the day is long. But not the bravest soul in the world. I love her soft eyes and sweet, puppy dog personality but need for her not to be scared of her own shadow. My impression is she lived with just one other horse and feels a bit overwhelmed herself in new surroundings and new, more dominant horses. Even my arab mare who has ALWAYS been on the bottom of the pecking order is boss over Willow. So I am making it a priority to do some ground work with her to help her focus and settle in.
I ran into a glitch when some family obligations popped up and time became a bit more limited. I remembered something John Lyons said and I used with my 24 yr old arab years ago when she was green broke…. I am paraphrasing…..even 15 min. a day, added up over time, can make a huge difference in training your horse. If all you have is 15 min. then take 15 min. and do what you can in that time with your horse.
When Abbey, my arab was young, I also had young children so 15 min. at a time was all I could do most days. I fell into the trap then and now, in order to ‘work’ with my horses I needed a big chunk of time. If I didn’t have a big chunk of time, I couldn’t do it. I took the advice of just doing what I could in my daily handling and incorporated ground work, releasing to pressure and applied it in small bits which over time added up to make a big difference.
I used this strategy with a young colt I raised a few years ago. I made it a part of my daily handling to practice tying, releasing to pressure and picking up all 4 feet every day. My farrier owns him now and likes to update me on what a mannerly, personable horse he is.
I started this ‘step by baby step’ method of working with my horses again. It feels good because I don’t overwhelm myself with some huge project. It helps my horses are all broke too so I am not training horses that have no training. I am getting my horses back into work and on the trails after a time off. And I can see progress which helps with the overwhelm- for me and THEM!
My horses are, for the most part, barring cold wet weather, out in the pasture. I feed free choice hay outside in the overhang and bring them in to grain them. The grain, especially at this time of the year with mild weather, is really not much more than an enticement to come inside the barn. 🙂 So while they are inside eating grain, I take one in the aisle and groom and do some ground work and desensitizing. I take a few minutes with one, turn that one out, and get the next. I give Abbey, my 24 yr old arab mare a free pass. 🙂 She doesn’t need this but the other 3 can benefit from this time.
Molly, my golden retriever even gets some training…and time out for causing havoc in the barn!
Cimmaron and Abbey waiting their turn.
Of course adding to my overwhelm is my mares heat cycles beginning. The first ones of the spring are always a disruption but then seem to settle down significantly. Here’s a fun animation of Abbey (who I give lots of extra privileges to – like an open barn door to wander in and out while I am working with one of the others. She was flirting something fierce with Cim in these photos! Cim just wants some peace and quiet!
Porsche before a riding session.
I’ve been able to ride a bit this winter but not near as much as I’d like- of course. Work, short days, bad weather get in the way. Before this beautiful weather arrived we had gray skies and endless rain… which equals MUD, mud and more mud! My extra time went into cleaning the barn, working and my artwork !! 🙂
I hope if you are feeling overwhelmed, that this may help you to know just a few minutes a day can chip away at your horse riding goals. Know that you do not need to make it into a big project with your horse but instead find ways to incorporate training and ground work methods in your daily chores and handling of your horses. With Willow, for example, who needs some confidence and desensitizing, I worked on pivots to disengage her forehand and hindquarters to get her focused on me. I ask for her to back up and stand a distance with both eyes on me, and then bring her forward. I have forgotten what Parelli or some of the other training gurus call this… but it doesn’t matter as much what I did but rather want to encourage you can find your favorite methods and incorporate them into your normal horse time.
By taking it in small bites you do not significantly add time in the barn but can make a significant change over time by doing this.
No need to get your head spinning!
I kind of kick myself for not doing this year round but in all honestly once we are beyond spring my broke horses and I are trail riding and we get back in our groove. In the spring, when everyone has had time off and are feeling good– yes, we need it! Like my grandma liked to say- I’m no spring chicken anymore! I need my horses to be level headed and ridable and this takes the pressure off of me to feel like I have to make it into some big production to get us up and running (figuratively speaking) again!
Some new pet portraits…. please keep me in mind if you or refer to a friend.
Below are some fun Barbie Doll Shoe necklaces I’ve been putting together.
Happy Trails to you!
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