Timehop kindly reminded me today that it is officially our 1 year anniversary at EME! I feel like its been longer, but it is definitely the best and largest use of my paycheck. I have not regretted moving B there one time, even when I've been left with $2.87 in my checking account on occasion. WORTH IT.
I HATED spending 3 hours a day doing chores AFTER a full work day, only to never get done in time to ride. It was a bitch and I will fully admit that I LOVE handing over my money and never want to have horses on my property again. Nope, bai. It was easy in high school when I got home at 3PM, but getting home at 6PM only to work at the barn until sunset, no thanks. (To honor this decision, I'm using some of my fav photos from the past year at EME as text breaks.)
|Sniffing the new place|
My absolute FAVORITE thing though, has been proving every single hater wrong. SUCKIT. I remember the days when people on Facebook or here on blogger would tell me to give up and sell him off, because "life is too short to be 'miserable'" Okay fam, I guess we all have different definitions of "miserable". Even though it was rough, & I sometimes wanted to give up because it was hard, I'm also not a quitter and I believed in the horse I bought (fun fact, I found his backstory from his first ever owner-more on another post there).
|You mean, I LIVE here now mahm?|
Looking back on the past year, and comparing it even to our rides this current week, the difference is astonishing. Emma said it best (FraidyCatEventing) in one of her posts re a hot mare she rode, so go there and read it.. But it was literally like riding dynamite and every single move you made elicited a reaction. God forbid your hand moved, or ankle twitched or you shifted your seat. I literally had to move at a snail pace training him, and could rarely ask for "more", because his comfort zone was thisbig.
Obtaining his trust has been the most difficult thing I've ever done (with horses) and has been a solid two year process. However, I think we've finally reached a point in this delicate relationship where I can finally start to "push" him and ask for a little more each ride, versus moving at an absolute glacial pace.
|Second show ever|
The fact that I did overface my horse (stupidly), came off and he still went back in the ring and jump 3 beautiful rounds speaks volumes to his improvement. I'm not planning on doing this ever again obviously, but still, you get my point.
Then, every single ride this week has been brilliant. Like Unicorn status. We hacked the first two days after the show, then came right back to jumping again on Tuesday. I was alone, so I didn't get any evidence, but we worked on this course. ..
After a solid warm-up, he was a breeze to jump. Nailed every lead, locked on to the fences and turned on a dime. I even practiced jumping fence 9 at an angle, and he was great.
(sidenote the the formatting is pissing me off, sorry Blogger is being extra retarded today)
I have noticed that B is still leery of lines and requires a slow and gradual warm up /height increase, but he has gotten much better about lines in general. I have to remember he's really only been jumping about a year, so hes still green AF. He still tends to rush in grids and hopefully Saturday we can work more on that, but I was proud of him for not running through the line on Tuesday. He was thoughtful and careful.
|No scope, no hope|
Then yesterday I went in to the barn, set with the goals of getting a really good flatwork session in. Generally, flatwork is where he gets the most anxious and tense, so I normally spend most of those rides catering to him and his anxiety, staying away from lateral work and any semblance of collection. LULZ.
Not exactly productive for training, but over the years we have slowly manages to add some tools to our kit. Like decent transitions up, mediocre transitions down, square halts, 10-15-20m circles with questionable geometry, flying changes (SOMEHOW) and the beginnings (very beginnings) of lateral work. If he was having a good day I would ask for a little more and get a good response, but most days it was just goals of being relaxed and forward at WTC.
Considering I was laid up so long/we don't event anymore/had no dressage shows coming up I decided to keep him in it and ride in every ride with no bit.
I swear to god it has been life changing. I can even work on installing our sideways buttons without him turning into a firebreathing dragon (his normal MO).
He actually TOOK the bit from me yesterday when tacking up and he was instantly there when I picked up the reins at the walk while mounted. His walk has always been his most tense and WORST gait, and he is incredibly good at playing giraffe here. NOT TODAY FOLKS (well, yesterday).
I've been focusing a TON on riding accurately and correctly, which entails no wiggling in hands and riding from back to front with ENERGY. Warm up consists of buckle riding at all 3 gaits with the sole purpose of FORWARD. This has been brilliant for him, since he has a tendency to suck back anyways. Then for me, paying attention to my wayward inside hand--fickle bitch it is.
Once he was all loosey goosey and paying attention, I started asking for more collection and impulsion, something he rarely has been asked to do. He responded beautifully, so I began to play with changes of bend and leg yields. When he gave no tantrums and stayed soft, I was like OKAY, time for some actual work then and came up with these exercises....
|Shitty circles drawn shitty, but they were 15m and not wonky|
At first, he was slightly resistant to the halts every half circle and was a little confused on why I was asking this of him....of course when I actually rode them correctly from my seat and not my hands he would give less of a fuss and we learned together how to halt, move, halt. This was hard for him, but I was incredibly proud of his effort. He was loose in his shoudlers (rare) and forward (hard) and gave me a square halt almost everytime! If there's one thing we can do, its a square halt.
The other exercise was quite fun too, and it gave me a chance to practice my sitting trot and getting him to move sideways while staying straight. I hardly asked for much sideways, maybe 3-4 strides, to keep him sane, but he took it all with ease. The big big thing for him is to remind him everything is easier when you use you hind end to move vs. your forelegs.
I know all of this is boring and kind of easy for most horses, but the basics have bene slow to install on him. Fun things like this (sideways, collection, etc) have been difficult to ask of him in the past and FINALLY getting a relaxed response from him was magic. I was on top of the world with joy! Afterwards we went for a walkabout to cool off and watched the sun set.