Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mental Game

The weather for the past few weeks has been great for this time of year in Oregon.  Usually by the time I get off work and do chores its starting to get dark.  We have some lights along our outdoor, and I don't worry about working  Buddy as it gets dark, but I've been doing McKenna inside. She's too ADD and I don't trust her enough to work her outside in the dark.

I got out to the barn midday on Saturday and it was bright and sunny, if a bit cold.  Two other people were working inside so I made the decision to ride McKenna outside.  I put her on the lunge to let her blow off steam and to let her take a look at the sheep that are now in the field across the street.  She ran, bucked, jumped, spun, ran more, snorted, reared, and ran some more.  I let her be an idiot till she started dropping her head and paying attention to me.  We walked around the ring in hand to let her see everything and catch her breath before I got on.

She was still pretty keyed up and pretty tense under saddle.  We worked at the walk trying to get her relaxed, doing lots of circles, bending, and baby leg yields.  My friend came out with her mare, spooking McKenna and we started our relation work all over again. Some of the sheep moved closer to us and McKenna decided to become a statue and wouldn't move towards them.  Luckily my friend's mare didn't care and walked along side of us to show McKenna the sheep aren't scary.  We went back to circles and loops at that end of the arena till she relaxed again.
Poor tired baby after our ride
We had been working almost 30 minutes at the walk at this point.  I decided that getting a nice, relaxed, soft walk out of McKenna was all I wanted.  Once she gave that to me for one lap around the arena each direction I called it a day.  I figured we had won a huge mental battle, considering what a maniac she was when we started.  I'd rather her get a positive experience in the outdoor arena then try to work and set her off.  With babies the mental wins are just as important as the physical ones.

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