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A Good Example

You know what I was trying to explain yesterday? Well, last night proved a good example.

It was cold. Extremely cold by SC standards with a nasty wind on top of it but I wanted to get a ride in before the five solid days of rain in the forecast. I didn’t really have much of a plan going in likely just continuing to get comfortable with his canter and transitions into and out of it.

Preparing for five days of flooding rain. At least it will be almost 70F

I wasn’t even thinking as I brought everyone in for dinner and then threw Gem and Pete hay while I took H’Appy out to ride in the arena. He was perfectly fine until we entered and he looked around realizing they weren’t in sight.

It’s been a long time since I’ve left them inside while I rode and it didn’t even dawn on me it would be an issue. As he spun around the mounting block it quickly sunk in that I had my hands full.

After working a while to reinstall that standing still was not negotiable, I mounted up and we walked off. He was tense and felt ready to explode but I knew it was just being nervous out all alone in the world. I didn’t agree that he should feel that way, but I understood.

The footing may suck but at least I have lights

I forced myself to remain as calm as possible, making sure my weight was in my heels and my hips were open and allowing him to relax instead of getting tense and creating more tension in his back. One piece of advice I got a long, long time ago and stuck with me was that the rider and horse should always equal 10. When he comes out at a 2 I need to bring the energy in myself up to an 8. Last night he was already a 9, so mine needed to be a calm and quiet 1.

We walked. He cried out for his friends a few times. He curled behind the bit and shook his head. I thought about how to react and how to help him.

Circles. Bend. Square turns. Walking over ground poles. Halting a million times. Always keeping him moving. Always making him check in to see what we would do next.

Gem says she is sick of dark winter nights too

It took a while but eventually he started to halt when I asked with a light squeeze on the reins. Lots of praise.

A while later he started to walk off again without a tantrum. Lots of praise.

A while later he lowered his head and relaxed.

Ride over.

Dusty worked hard with the help of my dad to get this stump out. It was nice to get rid of it

It wasn’t the ride I had planned or really even wanted. I wanted to canter. I wanted to trot. More importantly though I wanted yet another positive experience to continue to build his trust in me. I wanted him to continue to learn that I’m fair and I’ll reward good behavior.

I’ll hop back on him again Friday after work. I haven’t decided yet if the horses will go in the barn or not. I need to work on him being able to ride all alone, but I also don’t want to blow his mind so I think I’ll leave them out and maybe try an every other ride situation.

I’d also love to trailer out to my old Trainer’s barn to string together some jumps in a small course. It would test his brain off property which is something I haven’t done since July, so hopefully I can squeeze that in between Dusty working Saturday and celebrating his birthday Sunday.

16 thoughts on “A Good Example”

    1. This is the reason I’m not hunting a trainer at the moment. I want to work through stuff like this before I start paying someone on the ground. I don’t mind spending a Wednesday night in the cold walking and working on his brain, but I would very much mind paying $$$ to do it.

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  1. Yeah! Good job recognizing what needed to be done versus what you wanted to do. And I love the “10” analogy. I had the same ride last night!: wanted to nicely canter and trot around the forest, where Major wanted to rush home and behave like a dragon. So I settled on walking until brains were reinstalled, and then just continued to walk the rest of the time. It ended up being peaceful when it could have been a fight.

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    1. Exactly! Fights are never worth it though that is a lesson I constantly have to remind myself of. The 10 analogy helps my mental game a lot to settle my overly active and tense body down when it isn’t needed and in fact is only making things worse.

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  2. omgosh rides like that have a very high likelihood of throwing me off my game haha, when i am expecting one thing and the horse is like “actually, about that…..” good for you tho for being flexible in your plan, seems like you handled it really well! agreed completely about that kinda thing being all about establishing that trust. the rest can only come after that!

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  3. I’ve been following along with your progress and I think that while it wasn’t the ride you wanted it was a really important ride. You have come a long way and seemed to quietly work through his issues without worrying and that is the most important thing. Well done!

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  4. Good for you being so adjustable! It’s hard to abandon “the plan” for a ride, but usually when you do, it’s the best thing you could have done. Kudos!!

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