Time: 1. 5 hr
Ride: I went out and rode Sunday, and Jingle was a perfect angel-face. He loped both leads so smooth and was starting to really stop when I said the big "W" word. We rode in the outdoor arena, and I really focused on my body and even leaning to the outside (because I have a tendency to lean inwards) which basically made me sit straight, sigh, bad habits. My saddle wasn't slipping even a tiny bit - waking me up to the realization that I truly am shifting my weight to one stirrup, things to work on. I was pretty pleased and left the barn thinking that the next day (Monday) we would rock our lesson and would surely soon be showing pleasure, and barrels, and cutting, and would definitely be winning money, because we are such an awesome rock n' roll team.
Ya, you know what happens when you think that way? You have a lesson where you and your horse just seem to be completely separate entities, and forget completely to somehow work together, and you walk away with 700 things to work on and think about. Happens to me every, single, time.
So, before I even got on, Jingle attempted to be sassy as I was going to step up. He shook his head and was just being a general idiot, so my trainer told me to get off, tell him woah, get on, and ask him to stand - he did, okay, maybe he got all of his sassiness out? We began our lesson with a warm up, and then my trainer asking me and Jingle for a stop - uhm, not so pretty. She commented on how exceptionally "hard-mouthed" he is, which is very true. She asked me if I had ever lunged him, I hadn't, it's on the list of things to teach my ex-trail pony, but had done lots of round-pen stuff. So, I jumped off, and we added side reins, and my trainer tied him back, on his left, then right, and then back, and asked him to simply move around the outside arena, attempting to get him to soften. She moved him around the arena and I just watched, she told me she wanted him to learn this by himself, and not associate any feelings of struggle or unhappiness with me. I liked that.... I am bad about being too much of a sissy-but this is my baby-I don't want him to be unhappy, mom. I try my hardest to not be, and on the ground I think i'm quite good about being Alpha mare, but when we start to ride, I tend to start to become less and less of an alpha... issue.
He picked it up nicely to the left, but then to the right, his hard-mouthed sassy behaviour really began to show. This is not the first time I've had issues with Jingle and his hard mouth, at one point in his life he refused to turn left on me and it became a massive fight. My trainer spent quite some time working with him to soften into being tied back.
Then I got on. His jog is coming along really nicely, he softens right up and we move along the rail pretty well, I think. However, from all of the gaits, sometimes when I ask him to stop, he shakes his head and stomps around. My trainer told me that the minute I do that, kick him, and quickly reprimand him for his actions. It's a timing thing though, and I often miss the chance to apply pressure. Then, his lope... well.... my trainer asked me to lope in a circle around a half of the arena. Loping in a confined space is not exactly Jingle's thing, I feel him breaking down every second step, requiring a lot of pressure from my legs, vocal aids, hands, everything. My trainer got me to really focus on keeping my inside hand up and out, and also not dropping, or keeping too much contact on my outside hand. Then Jingle stopped loping, completely,... I was handed a small crop, i've never ridden with a crop, uncomfortable floundering abounds! Finally, we got it together, I realized how much contact I was holding. I've never ever ridden with contact with him, obviously I wouldn't on the trails, and no wonder he was freaking out about it. So I tried to really give him more slack, until I needed to ask for something specific. We ended up loping consistently through a few circles, and we quit for the day on that good note.
Then, since 3 other girls were coming in for a lesson and the outdoor arena was getting pretty dusty, my trainer told me cool him out by just walking him down the rode. So, out we went, walking down the rode and a lightbulb flashed in my head. My poor horse, I've been so gung-ho about the arena and all this work, that I forgot about what he loves to do - go out, and see things & I forgot about one of the golden rules of horseback riding - give them a mental break. For Jingle, trail-riding aint no thang, it's like me going out for a nice casual, leisurely hike, but the arena for him is akin to me attempting to read a textbook while doing a hardcore cardio-weights workout - not only am I straining mentally, but I'm going to come out of the gym totally sore because I worked my muscles intensely. So he's probably coming out of this brand new arena setting totally fried. Atleast, that's what I think.
So, I'm going to try to re-work my riding schedule and see how it works. Monday's I have my lesson, and I'm generally out thursday to ride - that should be another arena day, then every second Friday I plan to go out and do a "ground-work" day, and then Sunday's, I think I should just do a bit of a trail ride, no arena stuff, no big-mental stuff for him, just a casual walk down the rode, or up behind the barn, wander around for 30-60 minutes, then quit.
I think that's a really good schedule, but I only have a couple months until the snow starts to really fly and riding outside becomes harder and harder.
Anyways, after the big day for him and I, I walked him outside to cool him off, and sure enough, I looped his lead around his neck and he followed me around with this big 'ol look of love. I love you horse, we're going to figure all of this out.
For Next Time: Oh man, everything? Stops, softening and loping smaller AND bigger circles.