Eeyore (still working on new name) has three very distinct phases to his rides at home. I’m working hard at trying to figure out the best way to handle each and hoping with time they merge into one flowing ride, but for now our rides have very distinct chapters to them.
The warm up: At the beginning of the ride Eeyore is his touristy self. He looks around, pays minimal attention to me and screams for his friends. He is pretty amenable and generally offers up a fantastic forward walk that is fun to ride. Of course it comes with some downsides mostly his inattention and he tends to offer to canter a lot when walking or trotting.
Honestly this phase doesn’t bother me and is becoming shorter and shorter with every ride. He isn’t being bad. His head just isn’t in it yet and I can understand that. I mean it’s not like he decided it was time to exercise at that moment. I’m slowly learning how to get his focus on me and generally start off with a nice marching walk around the arena both directions on a loose rein but with a firm sense of where we are going with each step. From there it is on to a lot of changes in direction at the walk eventually working up to the trot.
The real work: Ah. The lovely center of the ride. When Eeyore is focused and game to work it is a pleasure to ride him. We walk. We trot. We bend. We work on geometry. Last night I returned to the Jumping Exercise book and set up the ground pole chute to work circles and figures eights at the walk and trot. He is light in the bridle, rhythmic and overall amenable to life.
This part of the ride is why I bought this horse. Unfortunately it leads to the last phase.
The quit. Once Eeyore perceives he is tired it is game over. I say perceives because he was quite capable of a 2 hour cross country school so I am no longer thinking that 45 minutes of walk and trot work in large circles and figure eights is tiring him out.
He has figured out that dropping his head gets him nothing but sent more forward and is now on to trying other ways to tell me where I can stick my ideas of work: curling behind the bit, cantering at the merest suggestion of leg, refusing to bend away from the gate, forgetting what a transition is. I have to laugh because his attempts at evasion are in the toddler stage compared to The Queen herself. Sorry buddy, but these antics won’t get you anything.
These phases played out last night pretty clearly. Once we began canter work he decided he was done with me and done with this whole riding horse thing. I switched to tons of walk trot walk transitions, threw in random halts and quit once he gave me one final circle away from the gate without breaking to canter or walk.
Really the only phase that bothers me is the last one. Once he mentally checks out I’m not really sure how to get him back. He just plain is done and I’ve never dealt with a horse that gives up. More fitness will help. More time figuring out his life with me will help. Perhaps changing it up with some jump schools at home versus flat work will help. I think though that deep down he is a quitter which is new to me and something that will take time to figure out how to deal with.