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February 12, 2016: When the Fat Pony Sings

Yesterday, I made two apt comparisons – Raudi and Rainbow and Ryder and Hrimmi. Both comparisons, by my estimation, were accurate. However, I made it sound like Rainbow’s and Raudi’s willfulness was in and of itself detrimental in terms of their overall training. This is not so. It’s true, Rainbow has never had a consistent recall, and in the twilight of her years she remains the cagiest dog I’ve ever met. We’ll never have to worry about anyone picking her up because she would not allow this. If she does not want to be caught, she will not be caught. However, we love “Doggy Hotel” dearly, and we realize that if she did not love us, she would not be with us. Her love for us is conditional. If she was of the mind that she was not being

Rainbow on Ice

treated with kindness and respect, she’d be out of her in a heartbeat. Her loyalties only extend so far.

Today, in working with Raudi, I realized that in my comparison that as with Rainbow that I didn’t cut my much-loved pony any slack. Yes, she is like Rainbow, willful. And yes, life with us is very much on her terms, otherwise she will not cooperate. And yes, I might have made more progress as a rider if I’d ended up with a horse that was more compliant. However, I have no regrets because my ongoing efforts are now paying off big time.

Today, Raudi and I began our work day by doing agility. There was the clicker. There was the treat. Forgetting either results in disinterest on her part. We still have a problem with her not lifting her rear feet and sidling to the right when I ask her to back over a pole or into a hula hoop, but we are making progress. We quit when she gets it, so the sessions are getting shorter.

After, I worked her over the same obstacles while under saddle. Hey, this pony now backs and sidepasses and steps over poles. I began working with her on going around barrels. And I was able to halt several times just using my seat. So yes, we are making progress.

We next went for a trail ride with Pete, him riding Tinni and ponying Hrimmi. We are also making considerable progress on the trail. I can now rate Raudi – I’m getting what I ask for, a fast walk, slow walk, trot, canter, and tolt. A year ago, I was struggling because she was not at all forward. She would just plod along, and I would put the crop to her. Now she’s moving out nicely. What a difference. And lo and behold, she’s no longer fidgeting. For instance, today we met up with two cyclists on the trip back to the trailhead. Raudi stood fairly quietly as we talked. Yes, she mugged their front bags, but I quickly moved her sideways, and she stood quietly while we talked, mainly about what a beautiful horse she is. We’ll see how well she does when the grass reappears. This year, I’ll have a jump on things – I’m going to allow her to eat when I say it’s time to eat. I might even use the clicker to reinforce the good behavior.

Over the years, I’ve channeled Raudi’s chi in good directions. Additionally, in the past year, really since last April, I’ve been working on me. Nothing happens overnight, and this is an instance of that. I don’t know how long it takes for postural alignment to change; but mine is changing, and I’m seeing the results. It really is amazing how much I’ve accomplished considering that I have not had access to a regular riding instructor. Perhaps a good thing – I don’t think that Raudi would have done well with ongoing arena training. She would have gotten bored then resistant. This is just her nature.

I know that some, like my friend Vicki, are dubious about Raudi and my accomplishments because they can’t fathom how anyone could progress without arena schooling. But we have done this. And it isn’t over until the fat pony sings. The best thing of all is that I no longer dread going for trail rides. Instead, I look forward to it. Hoping for good weather tomorrow so that we might ride the loop.

Next: 43. 2/13/16: Centered Riding: Life Affirming or Life Changing?

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