Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Humility delivered

School horses are always good at taking our egos down to size.  Here I am, feeling like hot stuff because I've got this Prelim level horse on the way and my own mare has been so fancy lately, and then I have a jumping lesson on a cranky old Thoroughbred gelding.  Sure, I can handle a jumping lesson on him, the kid lessons use him for jumping.  He's obnoxious with the head tossing, ear pinning, and kicking out, but no big deal.

Famous last words.  We were doing all right in the warm up.  I got him going by getting up off his back and letting him canter.  I wasn't overly surprised when he bronc'd a bit and just kicked him on.  Once I had him trotting on the bit and seeming to accept the contact, I started to warm up over a cross-rail.  The situation started to unravel when I had him halt and he dove down with his head and ripped the reins through my ungloved hands.  It hurt and pissed me off.  I corrected him, which pissed him off.  Wuh oh.

He started to fling his head and drop down in front after fences.  I'm not a big fan of being launched, so I'd correct him to pop his head back up.  That pissed him off even more and had him cow kicking and crow hopping.  It was a rapidly escalating situation.  He ticked me off each time he bucked, I pissed him off each time I booted him to make him knock it off.  By the end of the lesson, he bronc'd with me and kicked the wall hard, right next to the mirror.  That was it for me.  I was ticked off and it wasn't getting any better.  I know myself well enough that I ended the lesson there.  I was mad and that meant I had lost control.  I got off and that was it.  I don't ride angry.

I felt so miserable.  I was caught between frustration, anger, and tears.  So much for me going Novice in April and moving up to Training in fall if I couldn't get one creaky old man around a basic course.  I went and got Fiona for her exercise and she was wound up due to the last jumping lesson going on.  The difference, of course, was that when Fi acts up, she accepts correction.  We had a good ride and burned off some of her excess spring energy before working on her lateral work and her lengthenings.  She was feeling really good, swinging her shoulders and really reaching for me in the lengthenings. 

I'll admit, I popped her over a little jump because she'd been hunting them for most of the ride.  If there's a jumping lesson going on, she gets wound up thinking it's going to be her turn next.  I just trotted her over a little fence on long reins, just the way she likes, and she hopped over.  It's nice to be able to do that once in awhile.

Riding her definitely made me feel better.  I'm not incompetent or unable to ride a sensitive horse with a tricky mouth.  Fi is a very sensitive horse with a touchy mouth and we do just fine together.  I've ridden the cranky old man before, too, and we were able to jump around at Novice.  It had to be a combination of spring time wahoos and being a sore, cranky old man that's not used to being corrected like that.  I started to lose my temper, so did he, and we just had to stop.  We're not well suited.  I'm a micro-manager and he just wants to be left alone.

On a more positive note, Ben (the Prelim horse) will be at the barn on Saturday.  It will be a very, very long April for me between work, school, and keeping two horses in work.  I have some volunteers to pick up rides so I don't keel over, but it's still going to be a long month.  Despite yet another knock to my confidence today, I'm getting excited for Ben's arrival.  It's hard to not get excited about a new friend and a new opportunity. 

And to end things on an adorable note, barn dogs!

From left to right:  Baxter, the winter instructor's terrier, Peyton, my little Chugg, and Izzy, the other winter instructor's Georgia Peach (Lab/Shepherd/Boxer/Dachshund/who knows what mix)

These were the three little monsters that were running wild at the barn tonight.  You know it's a mini-dog kind of night when Peyton fits right in, weighing all of 13 pounds.  My little girl has really turned into a good barn dog.  She knows how to avoid being stepped on, to come promptly when called, to stay out of the manure pile, and that there are goodies under the food buckets in most stalls.  Barn days are the best days so far as the dogs are concerned.


  1. Goodies under the food bucket are the best! My lil' dogs are learning about those.

    Don't beat yourself up about the TB schoolmaster. I have one of those, and he's picky(?) about who rides him and how. I think it's more a personality thing than a style thing even.

  2. Sorry that the lesson wasn't what you had hoped. Glad that Fi was able to get you out of the funk though. A bad lesson/ride is the worst :(