I’ve re written this post now four times. I was so distraught after the lesson that I texted Emma to talk it out. Thanks Emma for chatting with me!!!! I’m still uncertain what I want to say about it.
Thursday afternoon I had a lesson prior to bringing the horses home. It was so bad that I had tears in my eyes right before I called it a day. At 35. While riding my horse. It was that bad.
I’m not sure the details are that important here. Gem was angry. Who knows why. It wasn’t pain. We weren’t doing anything hard per se: more work on rhythm and balance at the walk and trot with plans to add in the canter although we never got there. We didn’t jump either. Instead we zoomed around while Gem got angrier and angrier and I got more and more frustrated at life.
It’s odd. I wasn’t ever angry with her which is a major change from in the past. I didn’t get scared or tense even when she had had enough and eventually reared for the first time in the seven years I’ve had her. I was just heart broken that I had let it get to that point without speaking up
more firmly on her behalf. That’s my job as her owner. And I failed big time.
I was frustrated with Trainer for the first time ever though even that isn’t deserved. The woman sees us two hours a month. She can only do so much.
It’s just. Well, Gem wasn’t having it with the slow pace on a 20m circle. I understand she should be able to do that, but on Thursday for whatever reason she couldn’t handle the pressure. She told me loud and clear. And I didn’t listen because I figured Trainer also saw it and knew what to do. And maybe her tactic was right and my way wouldn’t have changed the outcome at all. I don’t know. I know what we did just made everything worse.
With a pissed off mare under me going at her best 12 mph endurance trot, Trainer had me work on transitions to get her listening better. I understand the logic. But I know my horse and I know transition make things that much worse. She hates them. Doing them on the circle made her get angrier. Her neck got shorter and shorter and her energy got more vertical with every passing lap and every passing transition. By the end of that she no longer had a walk. She jigged.
Ok. Let’s try something else. We began working on turns in the forehand at the halt. At least that wouldn’t require forward movement. Gem proved a quick study going both right and left. Perhaps installing better lateral aids would help. Nope. Once we returned to our trot work she was still feeling more like a carousel horse.
We then tried trot poles. Maybe getting her mind on those would help? Except we did poles on a bend requiring more circles. And that was the icing on the cake. She tried to escape the constant pressure to circle and bend by cantering and when I shut that down she reared. It was tiny and pathetic but it was a rear and I quit then and there. She was screaming at me to back off the pressure and I had to listen. I should have listened earlier. I knew better.
What she needed was a long trot around the arena on a soft contact with maybe some canter thrown in to loosen her up and let her blow off some steam. She needed a larger work space and a slow gathering to the 20 m. She needed the release of pressure and she never got it. So she exploded and I apologized to her and got off.
I’m frustrated. It was a bad ride for sure but not bad because Gem was acting up. It was bad because I didn’t speak up for her. I didn’t tell Trainer we needed to work on something else. I didn’t ask to jump a little or canter. I was a sheep and Gem needed a wolf.
Gem needed me and I slunk away and hid behind Trainer. That was wrong. I understand and like the training process we are going through, but sometimes the horse just can’t and it needs to be tweaked. As Emma put it “the training pyramid means jack shit if the horse is soured to the work”. I’m not ready to say she is soured to it after one bad ride. She was tense from the get go but I do think that the way we worked her made it worse and not better. We should have given her more space and gotten off the forsaken circle for a while. Maybe came back to it at the end after we jumped or did something else entirely like go out and jump the stone wall she loves so much.
I plan to ride Saturday and see what she is like. Hopefully it was just a small blip and we can return to the fun progress we were making before. Time will tell.