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Sierra In Training | Week 5 Update

Session 18, Sunday, February 9, 2020

On Sunday, CA decided to change it up and lunge Sierra in side reins. I had previously advised her that it was clear lunging was once used as punishment for Sierra, as she did NOT lunge well. I had been making small leaps this fall when I made it a goal to improve, but CA quickly learned it was still a work in progress. In addition to that, Sierra basically refuses to hold her lead in the back on a lunge line, no matter the size of circle. I truthfully haven't addressed it much - I don't let her go around disunited; I make her break to trot then pick it up again and after she holds it for a half a circle or so, I let her go back to trot.  Canter in general on the lunge line tends to bring back a lot of that poor behavior, so we have mostly stuck to trot work to enforce that lunging doesn't mean just galloping around like crazy. CA decided to address it, which resulted in a very, very long lunge session.  She reported it ended well and she was holding it by the end, but I suspect it's not solved for good.

Post lunging fiasco

Ride 19, Monday, February 10, 2020 

On Monday following the lengthy lunge session, Sierra decided (for the first time ever with CA) that she didn't want to be caught, and instead made her chase her around the pen for several minutes before caving.  Sierra was reportedly * very * naughty, earned her self two swats with the whip before even getting to the arena from the barn, and would not listen to the leg unless CA was carrying a whip on that side.  She got in trouble often, and then allegedly got fed up, tried her duck-and-canter-sideways-at-mach 3-trick that worked last time, and let out a few bucks then refused to walk at all.  Luckily CA was expecting the negative reaction, and stuck with her, but she was only interested in jigging afterward.  It apparently ended on a good note, and CA chose to jump off right then and hand walk her out.  She decided to give her the following day off as a mental break.

Ride 20, Wednesday, February 12, 2020 

After her day off on Tuesday, CA's schedule prompted for a very early morning ride to which finally yielded some success.  We joked that perhaps Sierra was just an early bird, because she had a lovely ride in the wee morning hours.  She said Sierra felt much more relaxed and happy, and the main focus was remaining consistently connected and relaxed through changes of bend and direction.  I have been packin' around a lot of anxiety lately with what a butthead she's been, so I was really happy to get a good report after a series of bad ones!

Ride 21, Thursday, February 13, 2020 

Following a more promising ride the day before, Sierra was reportedly great on Thursday and earned herself an 8/10 on CA's scale.  CA continued to work on things from the day prior which included remaining relaxed and connected through changes of direction, while continuing the expectation of remaining relatively straight through her body throughout the ride as we work at building up her strength more evenly.  CA also said she was caught snoozin' a lot throughout the day, which is perhaps a good sign that she's becoming more relaxed again.  They moved the round bale feeder and Sierra crawled into the giant hole, laid down and nibbled on the remaining particles of hay like the silly lady she is.

Ride 22, Friday, February 14, 2020

Since CA backed off on the pressure a little, it seems as though Sierra has become happy in her work again, and the good streak has continued.  CA often sends me a 'rating' for her ride in a joking manner, and on Friday Sierra earned her second 10/10.  She didn't have a lot of time to talk, but she said they continued building on the previous rides where they worked on maintaining connection, straightness, suppleness and relaxation through changes of bend and direction and Sierra was fantastic.  It was another really early morning ride due to a clinic at the barn, so perhaps Sierra truly is an early bird.. fml!

She looked very unimpressed, but was a great lady. She's also starting to look pretty fit - check out those chest muscles!

Sierra had Saturday off, but overall things are looking up at the end of Week 5!  

CA and I spoke at length this week about the recent string of 'bad rides' and CA feels they're related to Sierra getting frustrated because she either doesn't quite understand (then turns into a mare and just gets cranky), or physically struggles with the requests.  I told her it's been making me anxious, and she was very understanding and reminded me that Sierra is learning and she is still one of her favorites to ride as she's also teaching her (CA) a lot.  Sierra is very smart, and CA seems to feel as though the physical aspect (due to general weakness and body crookedness) is the main contributing factor, as when she backs off a little, Sierra is much happier.  Unfortunately for Sierra, pushing the envelope on occasion is necessary and CA feels it important that she learn to work through her emotions when the going gets tough.  Naturally, we don't want to sour her so it's a fine line to dance.

I also wanted to mention as Sierra's training is winding down in the next few weeks - thank you to those who are reading these posts! I am logging this information entirely for selfish reasons so I can refer back to them later, but I always find the training adventures of other people interesting and it means a lot to see so many people reading them, and leaving comments!  I appreciate everyone who's interested in following my journey - after all i'm just an average ammy with average horses, in a secluded, northern community of Alberta!


  1. CA is definitely working hard to help Sierra be a solid citizen.

  2. I think its interesting that despite you explaining that lunging was used as punishment instead of doing remedial lunge work without pressure (harness/sidereins) the trainer went to working the mare in a rig first. I'm not quite sure the thought work there but I'm glad the trainer was able to swing together some small wins and relaxation later in the week for your mare.

    1. I would be inclined to agree as I never lunge her in anything - no tack or anything usually just a halter. That being said, I do think sometimes people just get into a habit and while that isn't "good" in a training situation, and I do agree with you, I think she came out relatively unscathed.


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