Zola update May 21st
Yesterday was really hot and humid. And the big horse flies were out. At 4:30 I put on my riding boots and went outside with the intention of getting Zola and riding her. Got to the gate and realized it was still too hot, I was tired from just that short walk! Of course that was the humidity. Went back inside.
At 6:00 I tried again. Went to get Zola and was hurt that she avoided me! Nothing drastic, but horses are subtle really. She just veered off and went about 12 feet. Then she stopped and waited for me. But it was clear the idea of being ridden was not one she embraced. I considered not riding her, but as fast a learner as she is, I felt it would be a mistake to set that precedent.
I tacked her up and confess slight concern at how she’d be to ride, given her feelings about it. Led her out to the field to the mounting block. Got her to stand still while I got on, and stand still for a while afterwards. I decided, since I myself felt totally blah and without motivation, to just ride about a quarter of the way around the track and come back and be done. Just to show Zola that she could do it and it wouldn’t be that hard.
Got on the track and Zola was fine. No balking. We walked along for a while and when I asked her to stop so we could turn around and go back, I found out Zola has lost her great whoa. She used to stop on a dime if I said whoa. Now I couldn’t stop her with the reins, she just kept walking. Turned her in a circle and got her to stop, but only for a second. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat . . .
I realized this was not disobedience, but a normal part of horse training. Zola had gotten the message that we were to go forward. She had apparently also deduced on her own that ALL stopping was bad. We worked on a few stops. She improved and we called it a day.
Horses don’t always learn what we think we’re teaching. And Zola’s loss of her whoa – except after going around the track all the way – shows how much horses try to do the right thing. I know Zola likes to stop, but in her mind stopping has become undesirable. Our next ride will be working on stopping and going.
I have ridden horses (not mine) who had no whoa. They knew to stop after they’d gone around the track, but it was impossible to stop them, or even slow them down, mid-ride. At the time, I just thought they were hard mouthed. Now I wonder if it was just that once they learned that forward was what was wanted, no one ever bothered to teach them that stopping was okay – and perhaps desirable. I have no doubt that if I were to skip re-teaching Zola to whoa, she would be just like those horses.
Didn’t ride Chance, and after turning Zola loose with Chance and Bettina, it dawned on me that it must be a new moon. I don’t know why, but they have a huge effect on me. Making me loose my natural optimism, and sapping my energy. Sure enough, I checked the lunar phase on my phone – and there it was, new moon.