And just like that it’s been 2 weeks since my last post.
Where to start?
2 weekends ago things were… awful. My trainer was back from FL and while not ready for lessons, I was determined that I would ride my horse. Saturday was not pretty at all. It was windy and ugly but damnit. I was going to ride.
I pulled into the barn and I realize right away I should have just turned around and kept driving. I was immediately greeted at the end of the driveway by a horse. Not normal. So I stopped, put on my 4 ways and caught the gelding while everyone around me ran around like fools. He was quickly handed off and I pulled around to park. But if that wasn’t a sign? In the barn, I groomed and tacked up. Nay was fine until some ponies came in, spooked, and bodied slammed the wall. Nay was done. In the indoor a lesson was going on and Nay decided that rearing was OK. It was not. I tried some ground work but never got through to him. I accepted some chemical assistance and was at least able to get on where I spent my ride trotting him down (there were 5 horses in the ring by that point) until we came to an agreement that we don’t jump sideways at every noise, sound, or movement. Moral of the story? Loose horse? DRIVE AWAY.
Sunday the barn was emptier. Western trainer was finishing up a lesson and rides. Nay was quieter so I got right on and one of the riders stayed in with me so I could work on getting Nay used to riding with other horses. Except, he had too much energy. After trying to work through it where Nay tried SO HARD to be good but where all he really wanted to do was buck me off (he didn’t but you could tell he wanted to), I finally hopped off and lunged him. Nay NEVER plays on the line. The first thing he did was explode. So out of character but he was holding it back and trying to be good. So, after one good buck, I let him canter and then did some canter trot canter transitions each way and by the end of our lunge session? Nay’s head was about 18 inches lower. His eyes were relaxed and he just looked… happy. After that? we had a nice, relaxed ride. That said, as we were leaving? Another freaking loose horse. Turns out part of the fence was down… But, horses were crazy which made leaving a stressful experience.
With all of that in mind, I set out this past weekend to ride a little later in the day. Due to work, I was unable to get out and ride during the week (work has been hectic). By the time I made it out, lessons were over and the barn was quieter. I’m OK sharing the ring, but I wanted to make sure that we had access to either the indoor OR outdoor to lunge. Because, my new plan is to lunge before we ride. So Saturday we had a nice lunge in the indoor before we rode.
It was nice enough to ride outside, but I haven’t been riding and didn’t feel like introducing a new ring on a cooler day. My plan was to ride outside Sunday but that didn’t end up happening. I went out Saturday with a touch of anxiety, but Nay was a doll. We did what we felt comfortable doing and he was a gem. I haven’t been asking for the canter because it takes a lot out of me physically, but as he landed IN the canter after a couple of jumps, I decided I’d just let him canter. It worked out well and was a lot less work on my part.
Sunday, more of the same. Except, warmer temps and high, high, high winds. Every jump in the outdoor blew over and everything was banging around. I was exhausted from the ride the day before, but despite all of that, Nay didn’t care one bit. We had a pleasant ride INSIDE thanks to the weather though did a little less than the day before (my confidence wasn’t quite as high thanks to shaky legs from the day before).
What I’ve found is that lunging right now is key. It puts BOTH of us in the mindset for work. Nay gets to warm up without me (he’s sometimes a little cold backed) and I get to see what his energy level is (physical and/or mental). Depending on how hard we work on the ground, we adjust how hard we work under saddle. As I’m not riding him very hard right now, the ground work is probably a good thing. He’s also improved A LOT on the lunge line as we work on transitions. Walk is now in his vocabulary (though downward transitions from trot to walk are still a work in progress). Good boy doesn’t mean woah anymore either.