I had made plans with Kim to go ride on Wednesday night. I woke up Wednesday morning with a migraine, but managed to get my butt to work. Through out the day I considered canceling, but since my headache was getting better decided to go ahead and go.
As I was leaving work to go home, the Suburban wouldn't start, had to get a jump, I should have just accepted that sign of doom. I am so good at talking myself out of stuff and then regretting it, and I am trying to change that, so I ignored the warning.
I figured that if I gave everyone just a little bit of food, it would make them a little less pissy about having to work before dinner. I thought wrong. Danny was mad mad mad! I did remember to grab the blankets this time though.
I got him saddled up and tried to get him loaded. For the first time ever he refused to go into the trailer. I mean flat out, backing up and being a total jerk, refused. I was shocked! I wanted to put him in the front so I could shut the divider and give him support. But since he was being such a pain, I decided I didn't care if he had support. I tied him to the trailer and tacked up Trax. Of course Trax went right in, like he always does. Then I tried Danny again. Still a no go. Finally I had had enough! It was cold and getting dark and I wanted to get on the road. I made him start working his butt off. It was hard on him in the driveway of crushed asphalt (which was frozen and really hard) but it was the only thing I knew to do. One thing I know about Danny, he can get pushy and bossy, but it doesn't take too much to bring him back to where he is supposed to be. FINALLY he loaded up.
We get to arena just as the last light faded, no cars..yes!!! I was encouraged by the thought of having the arena to ourselves. Kim pulled in right behind me.
Danny about ran me down coming out of the trailer, I made a mental note to work him on his respect issues. Trax was just Trax- to him trailering is just a part of life.
I started with working Trax, ground work, lunging, etc. He was really wanting to go so we spent a good amount of time on downward transitions. Then I did something different. I asked him to move his front end in a circle away from me, while keeping his hind in where it was. He did good to the right, couldn't do it to the left. I settled for a few steps to the left, and called it good.
Apparently I forgot how to tack a horse on this day, because I didn't even have his bridle on all the way when I got on. When I was asking for the lateral flex I noticed flapping buckles and had to dismount and complete the task. I was happy with him for that, because he didn't move a muscle while I got on and off. He was not like that when I got him. He was notorious for running off on a mount or a dismount.
RC had told me to get some spurs to help me get him off my leg. So I did. I was curious to see how he would react to them, given the harsh riding he endured in the past. He actually didn't react badly at all. Of course I was careful to always be respectful when applying them. I worked with trying to get him to collect like she has showed me, it was a complete and utter failure. I'm not sure who was worse. Me or him. I was trying to recall all the things she told me, but it just wasn't working. His head was straight up most of the time. I don't know if it was because I went back to the d-ring snaffle or just because he was in a crappy mood, but I do know that it sucked. Since I could tell I was just confusing him, I quit that exercise.
Kim was there about 10 minutes, but poor Fawn was hacking and wheezing pretty badly, so she opted to take her back home until she knew why. So now I was on my own again.
The hardest part of trying to train on my own is that I cannot see what I am doing wrong. Couple that with not knowing what I am doing in the first place, and I can get frustrated very easily. I decided to go with something I knew. We trotted. I would ask for a slow trot, and when he would take off I would stop him and back him up and then start again. Finally I was able to ask for a nice easy trot, and get him to maintain it. We cantered a little, but I didn't want to get him too sweaty with as cold as it was outside, so we kept it brief. We did a couple of decent side passes, and worked on some spins, but really can't seem to get the hang of those yet. We were able to end on a positive of an easy trot and a nice try on a stop, but I wasn't feeling real good about the ride overall.
Next came Danny. I stretched him, I lunged him, I made him canter for a decent amount of time. Then I got on him. He was a little wild at first, but pretty soon we were able to settle in to a nice postable trot. We also did some backing up to get him to lift that rib cage some. He really wanted to run, but I decided against it.
About that time, mother nature hit me by surprise and with a vengeance and I was totally unprepared for her. (explains the migraine from the morning) There usually is no reason to carry my purse with all those "things" a woman needs, to the arena, unless I know I am going to need them. From now on, I will take the purse no matter what, or find a place to stash some in the trailer.
Well crap! Could the night get any worse? Well heck ya it could and it did. As I found myself paying attention to what was going on with me, I lost my focus on Danny who took advantage of it and started to "dance" around. It feels more like you are going to fall over, so I clamped my legs on to him for balance forgetting that I had the spurs on. Yeee Haww! I swear I have never seen him jump so high! I got ride off of him and rubbed his sides, to try and undo some of the mental trauma. Poor guy never saw it coming. I felt bad, but he got over it pretty quick.
So now what, I couldn't just go home, I had two very sweaty horses (Danny especially-he is so out of shape) to cool down and dry off. I continued on with the job at hand, feeling very... uncomfortable and self conscious.
When I first started working Danny a young couple showed up and the girl had gotten her horse out and by this time was riding him around bareback. She was cantering and just having the time of her life. Then her boyfriend got on with her and they were walking around the arena on this wonderful horse. They were holding hands as they rode together. She had dropped the reins and was guiding him with her feet as he pushed a ball around the arena. It was cute to watch, but yeah, I was a little jealous. Sometimes I wish I had a horse that easy.
Cut to the chase, I got them cooled down and blanketed, and was ready to load up to go home, I carried both saddles out and got them put away. Took Danny first, and got a repeat performance. So I got Trax, and put him in. There was hay on the floor that he wanted so I reached down and grabbed some for him. I generally do not have to do the flat palm feeding with my horses, they are all very carefu,l as am I, but I guess I wasn't careful enough because he bit my fingertip this time. Yes it hurts like hell. I honestly thing he was as surprised as I was because he let go immediately I had to work Danny again to get him to load, but the work time was much less. I was as happy as they were to head home and get them fed and put away. By time I was done, I was frozen.
I have come to realize that when it is cold like this, it is a lot of work to travel to ride with even one horse. To do so with 2 is too much on my own. It isn't bad when I can go out to the trailer to tack down, and groom and dry off. But to have to pack everything back and forth when I am freezing...its hard. Too hard. I can't wait to have an arena of my own to ride in.
I ended the night feeling very discouraged. I found myself second guessing myself and my horse and wondering if Jay is right, maybe Trax is just too damaged to learn. Or maybe I am just rushing him. I still can't help but feel if I had someone to work with me on a consistent basis with one method of training instead of several contradicting methods, we could get further. An example is backing up. One person says to seesaw the reins just a little, another says don't. One says set the bit then tap with your heels to ask for movement, another says to just set the bit. So I teach him one thing, and then am told to teach him different, and it messes with his head. I feel like he wants to learn. I feel like he is trying really hard because the minute he understands what I am asking, he gives it to me without question. For example, if I set my bit, give a very tiny see saw with my reins,and a squeeze with my legs, he will back up so smooth and fast, it is beautiful. To him that is the cue. If I just pull back, his head goes up and he fights it and when he does finally go, it isn't pretty, because he doesn't understand. Then he gets frustrated with me. I can't say that I blame him.
We have the halter clinic on Saturday, and then hopefully I can hook up with RC again on Sunday. I'm not going to give up over one bad night, but I have got to find some consistent help, a real trainer to work with me, if we are going to make some real progress.
Here is a picture of Danny being angry.