Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The climb

Some of you may have noticed I'm a Game of Thrones fan.

This monologue has always been a favorite of mine and as I brace myself for the next round of growth, it's gained some new meaning.  Training is chaos.  I'm reaching up to grab the next rung of the ladder, hanging on for dear life as I haul myself up another step toward that indefinable goal of perfection.  I know that feeling of exhaustion, frustration, and fear all too well.  The risk of falling too far is something I'm all too aware of.  I've done this cycle more times than I care to admit.

This is the phase of the cycle that worries me and keeps me up at night.  This is the phase where I can get frustrated, scared, stuck, or hurt.  I usually fall off at this phase, when I'm stretching beyond my current skill set.  I know I can't do it yet, but I'm determined to try. 

Mi papi and I spent our lesson today working on the idea that he can do his transitions precisely and without popping his head or acting up.  We experimented with some different things until we landed on a point of balance where he not only did the transition politely, he stretched through his body and used his shoulder to step up into the canter.  Trainer A had no words for what he looks like when he steps over a ground pole into the canter while lifting through his shoulders (and keeping his freaking head down so his topline and abs do the work).  The good news is that one weight lifting session and one lesson focused on the problem got us traveling with his nose on the vertical and his topline hard at work.

We also discussed my weight lifting sessions.  She is entirely on board, but gave me a warning.  Theo goes behind the vertical before he unloads people.  Showing him how powerful he is in that position got them a world of trouble in the past.  Suddenly his lack of experience with anything but giraffe position makes sense.  If you want your school horse to not hurt someone when he has shown a propensity to curl and explode, you keep his damn head up.  Now I have to put his head down consistently without him unloading me.  Violently.  Great.

We also discussed the idea of being a lesson horse as a problem.  She's known him for years, and she said no, that doesn't matter.  He plops around when given the shot, but he doesn't plop with me.  With me, he's a willing athlete.  I didn't even kick him today once I got him rolling.  He'll try to evade regardless of whether or not someone else is riding him, it's just his nature.  He's lazy.  He's only doing 2 lessons a week outside of me currrently:  my adult friend that needs a consistent canter partner and a jumping lesson with a teen that has a horse that tends to explode.  A jumping lesson with teens is great for him and I can't take him away from my friend.  She's so happy and confident on him, I've watched them go together, she's not doing any harm.

So he'll remain at his current status of lesson horse.  Two rides a week away from me is not going to be a problem.  I'm still going to invest in some training rides for him, since I want Trainer A to get a serious look under the hood.  He can be so damn amazing, but he's also complicated and I want to give her a shot at getting to know him as a show horse, not a lesson horse.  This next rung of the ladder is going to be a hard pull and I need to make sure I'm doing everything possible to ensure success.


  1. somehow i feel like if he were going to curl and explode with you, either from recognizing his new power or from rebelling against the difficulty of carrying his head lower... wouldn't he have shown shades of that behavior already in your time together? idk - you all know him best (obvi haha) but it seems like he's really thriving with your partnership, rather than growing overly burly and harder to handle. regardless, good luck pushing for that next step of ever more quality!

  2. My guess is that part of the unloading was because of the approach and the way he was asked for that way of going. It seems like thus far, you've been very patient with him, and he seems to trust you enough to know that you know when to push and when to reward. Horses are of course horses, but that's my 2 cents.

  3. I'd be very hesitant to draw reins on my horse, but he's a lot lighter in the bridle. While they would definitely curb the explosiveness, I also know he'd learn to curl and the explosion would have to go somewhere.

    Sooooo I'd just as soon he explode in a way I know I can ride than force him to learn a new and potentially more dangerous way. ;-)

    But obviously, he's a totally different kind of horse than what you're dealing with.

    1. Holy mackrel, I don't think I'd ever put draw reins on C. He's way too athletic in the vertical direction. Theo's generally too lazy to make a real statement. C is a whole parade of statements. He's the exact kind I'd never put any kind of leverage technique on. Nothing worse than a TB that thinks they're trapped.