Being no one, going nowhere

Now that we are back in the swing of things, I resumed my regularly scheduled lessons with Oats. That means jumping lessons on Thursdays, and dressage semi-private every other Tuesday.

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Bad pony has also been undressing his horse friend….Photo by Sarah C.

We had actually a really good jump/half practice the WRONG dressage test last Thursday, and then I had my dressage lesson this past Tuesday and I was sooooo wiped out. I was exhausted, and it lasted through yesterday too- turns out I am not recovering from the horse show/half marathon/head cold very well at all, and I’m just exhausted.

But anyways, I pleaded for some leniency in our dressage lesson as I was so weak and tired, and I got it! We did a lesson that was very light physically (walk/trot) but very difficult mentally for Oats, being a more technical, lateral-focused ride. It always brings out the worst in him, haaa….So that was tougher for me.

He had a few ‘moments’ of I Don’t Wanna but we worked through it and Karen clued me in bigtime that Oats bullies me into giving up pretty easily, so this time it was NOT going to happen! She was also very clear with me about how I needed to ‘let him go’ and release downwards so he got a very obvious release from what I was asking. Asking, but giving too, is very important.

We ended that lesson on a good note, and I am asking my friend to school Oats for me in my warm-up for my jump lesson because ever since I came back from my sister’s wedding, Oats has NOT been very good (I know, I literally just said he was good in my lessons but hear me out). He has been unfocused, distracted, spooky as all get out!

He needs to get the sillies out of his system, because I do NOT want to get spooked off yet again. He is much better when I am riding with another horse in the outdoor though. Also it is creating a lot of tension in me when I ride, and I’m not interested in being that rider for him. I want it to be harmonious, calm, relaxing and fun!

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We’re back in the outdoor (for as long as it stays sunny!) and I was back to my old, lousy habits.

ARGH

Why on earth? Why do I let my tension negatively affect Oats? And then I get in these angry pulling matches with him around the right side/end of the outdoor ring. It’s a ‘spooky’ side, with lots of stuff to look at, and it makes me anxious. That in turn, makes Oats tense, and then I’m tense, and then BLAM. Negative ride cycle!

I got sucked back into that last night and boooy it sucked.

I tried to let it go, but we were literally drenched in sweat. I have not been that sweaty since last summer! I finally decided to let him walk on a loose rein to cool down, and I left the reins loose even on that ‘spooky side’ far end. He didn’t even blink an eye! That negative pulling/spooky/counterbend corner of hate didn’t even register for him when he was chilling out!

HA, now that is an eye-opener. Our tense, spooking pulling matches magically don’t exist when we’re cooling out at an amble- which in my mind is PRIME spook time territory.

Though I am bummed out still. Why do these bad behaviours still creep up? I haven’t had an Oats-meltdown since…Ages? I’ve been very proud about keeping my cool, even at a few horse shows where he was a jerk. 

The worst part is that I know that my meltdowns=his meltdowns. It’s a bad spiral to start. If I stay cool about it, he stays cool. No pulling, no fighting, nothing.

We did hop over a crossrail a few times and boy, I LOVE jumping outdoors. True, our bending is practically non-existent and I get tired just cantering and trying to kick-kick-kick our way off my right leg, but he is so much more eager and interested!