Two Whole Months (+) of Mia
Wow. There’s a lot to unpack in this post! We’ve had a lot of learnings in the last few weeks so I’ll just run down the list!
Now that Mia is filling out and becoming more balanced (thank you JULIA WOLFFE for all of the amazing baby horse knowledge and thank you TRT Method for helping me make training less stressful for everyone), she’s decided that airs above ground, rearing, and general athletic shenanigans should be included in almost every session. It’s made for some thrilling arena time. However, it’s also been incredible to see her figure out how her body works now that things are more even. So I'm equal parts horrified and awed by the monster I've unleashed.... whoops. I've been trying not to reinforce any misbehavior while also being aware that some of her behavior could be body-related (she’s getting her first massage at the end of the month) and/or related to whatever “training” she had prior to arriving in my life. My wonderful farrier mentioned that she may have been shoulder twitched... like a lot... as she trembled her way through the second trim she's had since she's been with me. That observation makes a ton of sense given, a) the marks her shoulder was riddled with when she arrived, and b) that she's prone to running backwards and flying sideways if I apply shoulder pressure to ask her to move away from me. There are a lot of really amazing track trainers out there (referring to an OTTB as a rescue just because it was once a racehorse makes me grumpy) but I do not think Mia had the fortune of spending her short career with them.
The bungee is our friend. Holy canter transitions, y'all! As soon as she's stopped sending all of the arena dirt into the rafters, this kid loves to stretch and when she stretches, her noodly little hind end can really engage! It's really cool watching her whole body start to loosen up as our lunge sessions progress. I only lunge her about 2x/week since I'm trying to keep the focus on attentive ground work and because I'm in absolutely no hurry to ramp up the restart. It's all a fun process with this zippy little doo-dah.
Standing while mounting is a slow-going skill. She is getting to the point where she'll stand while I lay part of my body across the saddle but much more than that and I should think about dismounting while it's still my decision. Progress is progress though and she's certainly doing much better than she did the first time I weighted the left stirrup (which ultimately involved me leaping out of the way as she started bucking in place). Again, it's these kinds of reactions that have encouraged me to call in the body work pros next week. There's no sense in even considering punishment if the reaction is due to pain—or fear.
Mia is the grumpiest eater. Ever. The other night when Kaley came up to meet her, I was around during the dinner feeding for the first time and I got to witness the full on nasty nastiness of Mia's "GTFO of my space while I eat my grain" face. So we're going to be working on that as well. I have no patience for that kind of nonsense.
Our general manners on the ground continue to improve in leaps and bounds. She's only pulled her disappearing act on me once in the last month and that was on a walk around the property. Overall, her patience in the crossties is improving with every baby tooth she's lost (and there have been a lot of lost teeth in the last month). She's getting more accepting of being pet and has actually started to enjoy some of the basic massage skills that I have in my repertoire which has helped to slightly calm her keyed-up state whenever she thinks she's going to be expected to work.
Overall, the last two months have been a blast. And although I am slightly worried about getting on her for the first time (seriously, come watch her buck if you think I'm being a weenie), I'm enjoying the process of reaching that point so very much.