Trainer had come out last Monday for a rainy lesson and then time slipped away and it was Saturday before I could get on again. Only Dusty worked in the morning and by the time I could have gotten on it was mid 90s and I decided it was safer for both of us to just wait until Sunday morning when it would be cooler.
Sunday morning I hopped on the big guy at 8 am trying to beat the heat a bit. He did great for tacking up and stood still like a gentleman at the mounting block. He even stood still while I mounted and didn’t try to walk away until I asked him to. Which is a great start to the ride as I am adamant my horse stands still while I am at the most vulnerable during mounting up.
I am learning that he needs a bit more time at the start of the ride to get his head in the game, however letting him go around toodling on a loose rein isn’t the best either with his slight ADD tendencies. It is a balancing act I am trying to figure out. Sunday I worked on the walk giving him a little more leeway than in true work mode, but being very consistent with our path and really concentrating on using my outside aides in our turns. Having never been able to play around with stuff like this I have to say how cool it feels to move my horse around using only my outside aides and get a nice sharp, clean turn. I even forced myself to drop my inside rein altogether to not allow the instinctual inside rein pull to turn. By doing it correctly, the turns felt balanced and we kept our rhythm.
I still had the three trot poles in the center of the ring and decided to do a modified Exercise 1 from the 101 Jumping book. I used both “chutes” between the poles to make circles of varying sizes in both directions which really helped me make a plan and adjust for the right leg aide that he likes to ignore. He got the memo pretty quickly that he must turn and while I lose some of my leg aides in the trot as a function of me sucking at it, we managed to improve upon the last two rides quite a bit.
He tried to pull out the head drag pretty early into our trot work, but I combined Trainer’s words with Emma’s visual she commented on my lesson post about sitting deeper in the saddle when he pulls against me instead of getting lifted out and forward and it really, really worked. The biggest change I did and something I really have to work on is not letting my elbows get locked out straight. By keeping them back by my sides and following more he didn’t have a lever to pull against.
Eeyore doesn’t really seem to respond to praise that much but it could be that he still doesn’t have it figured out that he is stuck with me and should care about me. HA! He does respond very well to less work and he quickly figured out that pulling on me wasn’t getting him anywhere. He then tried to curl behind the bit which is another new experience for me, but I remained calm and kept him going through our ever changing circles and directions. Eventually he got pissed off and I could both hear and see the shadow of a very sassy tail shake going on, but he settled well enough and we ended it once he went both directions on both size circles carrying his own head and not swearing at me.
I had wanted to canter some as well, but by that point he was extremely sweaty and there was sweat dripping down my face as well. The time flies when I am on him and what used to be a torture to get more than 20 minutes of work in an arena has turned into me checking my watch to find 45 minutes has flown by and I should probably stop riding and give the guy a break.
I gave him a good shower after, put his dreaded fly mask on him, and sent him outside to be with his friends for the day. I was so happy with him. Sure, he got a bit annoying when my abs were killing me and all I wanted to do was trot in a circle without my arms getting ripped off, but he gave up on it a lot sooner than before and I kept my posture better and I can see an end to this fight in the near future once he realizes he won’t ever win. He is a lot of fun to be on though and I am really excited to keep figuring him out.
In fact, when my surgery for this Friday rescheduled for next week, I texted Trainer and set up a cross country outing for Friday morning!! She immediately learned to never let me pick the time though. She asked me what time, I said early, she said fine, I originally started texting 6:30 am, realized that was probably mean, then changed it to 7:30 and she asked for 8. I’m a morning person, what can I say? Its odd though because well, I have yet to ride Eeyore off property and haven’t even jumped him over stadium jumps since getting him home yet here I am, the biggest wimp on the internet, setting up a cross country school. It would probably be smarter to take him to Trainer’s place first for a lesson “off property” and to school in the arena but I don’t want to miss this chance. My surgery schedule gets really full pretty quickly and I hate to pass up an opportunity to get out on a course. Eeyore has never been cross country schooling before, but he has been trail ridden extensively and reportedly does water, banks and logs on trail just fine. I’m prepared for him to be a little up and probably scream for invisible friends for a while, but he should get down to business quickly if the past is any indication. We will find out!
So fingers crossed we get the go ahead by the farm owner and I get our feet wet on the cross country course!!!