A big shout out to my Hubby who listened to my tirade Friday afternoon and talked me off the ledge.
You know what really gets me? Right before the lesson started I was feeling so so so proud of H’Appy. He was being such a big boy and was really looking to me for guidance which is a brand new thing for him. I’ve been working really hard on the ground to instill that and when we arrived at a brand new place it all came out and I couldn’t have been happier.
To go from that to…I don’t even know what best describes it….defeated, angry, frustrated….is a real shame because guys he was such a Big Boy to begin with.
I’m not even sure what all to go into. I had sent a text to C Thursday after work confirming our lesson for 130 the next day. She asked if we could move it up to 11 and that was fine by me. We texted a while back and forth and then finished it with “see you tomorrow”. A prior text even said the date: March 15th.
I arrived at 1015 to have plenty of time to get my bearings and walk him around and work on ground stuff if needed. I sent her a text when I got there asking which arena we would be using. She asked why I was there because we had agreed on Saturday. I quickly looked back at all my texts and nope. Clear as day said Friday the 15th. She wasn’t around and said she would be late and also had to do office stuff before we could begin. What? Apparently this isn’t uncommon as the barn staff shrugged and said that’s just her.
I took the time to walk him around the grounds and he was amazing. He never called out. He never pulled or balked. He walked calmly beside me sniffing all the arenas and footing. I even took him into the indoor to walk around as well.
Eventually I got on around 1045 to warm up. He was a bit amped and distracted and it took a few walk halt transitions to reinstall the breaks but after only 5 minutes he was relaxed and swinging freely. I even trotted and while the first few transitions saw a lot of head flinging sass he quickly got to work no fuss.
And then we waited. And waited. And waited. It was close to 1130 before she showed up and by that point he was done even though I had even gotten off and chilled for a solid 15 minutes.
We spoke briefly and then got to work and that’s when things went downhill.
I do wonder if he recalls his old lesson horse days because I swear as soon as someone enters the arena and stands to give directions he immediately tenses and gets pissy. He is always worse during a lesson than when I’m alone. I’d blame me but by the time we got started I was way past being nervous and into being annoyed and rather bored. There was no tension left in me at all.
So anyway we got started and it wasn’t pretty but he settled and we did a nice figure 8 around two jumps. She then added two ground poles on one diagonal on a curve and two on the other half of the 8 straight and had us working over those too. He had moments of tension and moments of glory and overall it was actually going pretty good work wise and I was enjoying the exercise. Some things she told me were in direct opposition to what I had been told by J in the past (J wanted the outside rein steady around the circle and to soften the inside a lot whereas C told me to loosen the outside and hold the inside) but I was being open minded and willing to learn.
From there we moved to four trot poles straight down the short side in the middle of a circle of jumps and he must have recalled the ride earlier in the week because he was good through that exercise too.
We finished with some pretty craptastic canter work to call it a day.
And while all that sounds really great, the nitty gritty of it was anything but. You see, I was trying my best to do everything she was telling me to do yet every time I would do it I would get yelled at.
She told me that I let him hang on my hands too much. I needed to lower them (yes I very much do need to stop raising them to the ceiling) and if he started leaning I was to throw the contact away and let him deal.
We went around the circle and he started pulling hard and trying to take over. I softened and threw away the contact to let him deal.
And then I got yelled at because I wasn’t using a very strong half halt and I was like but you told me not to and she said I needed to.
I was going through the straight four trot poles and then turned right. I went around the jumps and did it again. I turned right again. She told me that I was being too repetitive and needed to switch it up.
Next time I turned left.
She criticized me telling me I’m too haphazard and have no plan and that I do things too different each time. I was always going right so why change and go left all of a sudden?
Um…because you told me to?
And it kept going like that. I’d try to do exactly what she said, sometimes a lot more effectively than others, and then she’d yell at me for doing it. It was all very frustrating.
The other thing that really confused me was right at the start. She got on me and told me I’m too annoying talking to him all the time. I need to be quiet. Now J always told me I was too quiet and to talk to Gem more and H’Appy thrives on near constant praise. I told her that but she said I basically needed to shut up.
Being open minded, I did. Each time he would do something super well I’d bite my tongue and watch as he grew anxious. He did the right thing but there was no reward and when I’d ask again he got angry until by the end he was flipping me the bird.
But if I tried to praise, I got yelled at.
At the very end she told me he was too fat (he is but he is losing it steadily) and needed to be in work 7 days a week and oh by the way she has a spot open for full training if I wanted to leave him and begin right away.