Ever wonder what an angry Appy looks like?
Hahahahahahhaah! Oh Eeyore. When will you learn that compliance equals an easier ride and more time for the fun stuff??
Last night was my second lesson and it did not disappoint! Knowing he had had a lot of time off due to the 7+” of rain we got from Friday through Monday, I hopped on for a stretching w/t/c ride on Tuesday. He was a bit up but it was warm and sunny and he quickly got settled.
It was 30 degrees colder with a brisk wind and the constant threat of rain when I pulled into ht barn. Trainer AB asked how he had been going for me at home, what I had worked on, and how he was being tonight. I filled her in on our rides of late as I mounted and warned her he was being a bit fresh.
And boy was he ever! She had me only walk around once before moving to the trot and then after watching us zoom around she laughed and said we might as well canter and try to wear him out. Eventually, after about 5-7 minutes of us cantering around with no end in sight, she asked how I was doing and commented that his canter looked really nice. I told her I was fine and that this was the benefit of an endurance background. I could quite literally do this all day long though I was started to huff and puff and sweat was pouring down my back. He is an exhausting ride when he is like this.
She did offer to hop on him and I was more than happy for the offer. She can work him through his first 10 minute temper tantrum and maybe gain some insight. She got on and off they went. Ho Boy was he unhappy about that idea!! She remained calm as always, didn’t cave in when he snatched the right rein and tried to take off to who knows where, and after about 10 minutes of really hard work, he gave up and settled. For a while. She did remark that he isn’t that committed and will only try it for a few strides before settling but then that only lasts a few strides before he tries his head flinging, chin curling nonsense some more.
She threw me back up on him and we hit the rail to attempt a nice trot to the right all the way around, then a canter before doing it to the left. He was much more settled than in the beginning, but he never settled into what I know he can do. By this point in the lesson he had decided that he could no longer hold his own head up at all and so I got to learn some pointers on that nonsense. Really, it is growing old.
But….he was being good so we tackled four trot poles set along the short side at the far end of the arena going both directions. She was proud of the work I had done at home with him as he stepped through them like a good boy without turning them into a bounce exercise. He was doing well enough, that we tackled the small cross rail.
The big take away here for me was that once I presented him to the fence I was to leave him alone. He was doing his whatever with his head going along the rail so I’d tell him to pick his own damn head up please and thank you and then he’d decide curling his chin to his chest must be the answer I was looking for so I’d tell him no you can’t do that either and then bam there was the fence. We made it over no issue because he is a beast of a jumper, but she told me that once I presented him I need to stop worrying about fixing his head flinging monkey ways and let him sort it out. That way if he is curling and fumbles it is on him and he can’t blame me for it.
So we did that a few times and eventually he decided that we were on to the fun stuff and he was going to be a good boy. Once we had that down, she added a second cross rail one stride out. I’ve never done that with the Orange Butthead before. Gem always hated gymnastics as she felt we changed the rules by adding a new element and would then get pissed off. I was curious how he would handle it.
He handled it just fine. In fact, he was more interested in this game we were playing now and settled his ass way down, no more head flinging, no more nonsense. He was game on, looking ahead, coming back to me on the back side, super awesome good boy. Trainer AB was really gushing about his jump style too. She LOVED him over fences, though joked that in the dressage court we will likely walk away with a record breaking 80 or some such penalty score..har har har Trainer AB.
The first time through I got left a little behind for the second fence, so we came again and she fixed my jump position to bring my leg under me more and it felt way, way more smooth. She again gushed about his lovely stride between fences and easy out jump and then I thought we were done for the night.
But nope…she wanted a jump off the left lead as we had done this one entirely off the right since it was off set so far left in the arena. There were two jumps set up just to the right of the above picture, both were more in the mud and both were verticals with a massive black drainage pipe over them. Uh….
She asked if I wanted to do it. I looked. The jump was big and it was scary looking with the pipe but I was actually feeling really good about things. Eeyore is a lot of things, and one of those is bold and brave to the jumps and has never once taken a peek at anything I have pointed him at. She was pretty convinced he wouldn’t care. And I was nearly convinced as well. I was just about to say “sure!” when this tall drink of water of a chestnut OTTB came into the arena for the next lesson.
I wasn’t the only one to notice her and Eeyore lost his ever loving mind. He became a heat seeking missile for this mare and completely shrugged me off. The bravery I had stored up was gone in a flash and so Trainer AB removed the pipe and left it as a plain vertical which he jumped fine though he bucked on the back side when I told him we would not be galloping straight for the mare. I came and did it again and he paid zero attention, clobbered the entire thing, and still tried to run over to the mare who, had she cared about him before, was probably thinking he was a goober now. Not the way to impress the ladies, Eeyore.
We eventually cleared it and called it a night. I asked her if she honestly thinks we can train the dumb out of him and she laughed and said yes, with time and consistency he should learn that being a dweeb will get him nowhere. Her end analysis, seeing him at his worst, is that he does it to get out of work, gets angry when it doesn’t work out, and then returns to normal. He should eventually figure the game out and she thinks with his movement that he should lay down some really lovely dressage tests, when he feels like it.