|" Mr. Blue"|
I’m way behind on my 100-day challenge but I hope to be able to catch up soon. This past weekend was the first chance I was actually able to work with the horses. After their little adventure down the road I needed to wait for the farrier to come and replace Blue’s lost shoe and make sure his pastern was feeling better.
Donnie and I worked on some clicker training and he did really well. He’s a very smart horse and loves to interact with people. The reward treats didn’t hurt his enthusiasm either. We also started some basic longeing. Nothing more than an easy walk, trot, and whoa on a big circle. He hasn’t forgotten anything he’s learned over the years. He’s got beautiful balanced movement and is impressive to watch.
I decided to ride Blue in the indoor because it was cold and windy and threatening rain. When I positioned him at the mounting block and climbed the step ready to get on I had a sort of “I can’t do this attack.” I don’t know what it was – PTSD syndrome from all my trouble with Dusty at the mounting block, or flashbacks to the anxiety she caused with her mounting antics. Whatever it was, I couldn’t get more than my foot in the stirrup. I finally gave up and hand walked Blue around the arena a few times giving myself a good talking to until I was ready to try again.
When I was in the saddle the plan was to have an easy day for both of us working at the walk to revisit basic rein aids, which are Blue’s biggest issue to be addressed before advancing to other gaits. True to form, whenever I asked him to yield to the rein in one direction he would resist and counter bend in the other. After years of riding many different horses, I know my aids can’t only be misleading him. No, he's discovered an evasion which requires the least work while getting him out of the most work... At least in the short term. "Oh, you were going to ask me to canter around this arena for a while? Um, that sounds hard. Hang on, let me just pop my shoulder in here and walk very slowly kinda sideways so you can deal with this for the next five minutes instead. How would that be?" Frustrating, Blue, very frustrating...
He has a tendency to be lazy--always has been, and I expect he always will be. He's also very clever. Together they make working with Blue a challenge. Over the years I’ve tried to develop what I call “thinking in the saddle,” meaning that when something isn’t working I need to come up with an alternative plan. When Blue would counter bend, instead of fighting with him (which is never productive) I would simply ride him into the new bend and we continued working in that direction for a while. This went on and on until Mr. Contrary finally gave up. After some very nice circles and figure eights in both directions we called it a day and ended on a good note.
It’s hard to work with a lazy/stubborn horse and not get frustrated. Having lots of patience with a healthy sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
Quote for Today
No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill