Ride: So, I snuck out to the barn on wednesday when I should have been studying (bad, bad Louisa) but honestly I was going pretty stir-crazy. When I got there a lesson-group was warming up and I asked my trainer if I could sneak in - yipeee, she allowed me, and it was a barrel-racing focused lesson. I was pumped. Jingle and I have been working on barrels alone, in anticipation for the upcoming gymkhana season that I want to dip my toes into, but the second I ask him for any sort of speed.. bye-bye-pony.
For not being ridden for a week, he warmed up like a star. "Yes, those of you who remember my horse running me into walls, look how wonderful my horse is now, look at his beautiful headset, suck on this." Then my trainer asked me if I was going to allow her to ask me to lope again, I gave her one of these faces "-__________-" we we're working on slow stuff, ooooo-kaaaayyyy, and told her that yes, she had permission to allow me to lope again. I am a bit of a brat, I tell ya.
Jingle picked up his right lead perfectly and away we went around the arena, he was actually being really nice and listening to my checks and leg.. which is impressive as his right lead generally turns him into a fire breathing dragon of "fun". I've mostly been trotting the pattern but a couple of weeks ago I had Jingle trotting 1st and 2nd and then loping to third, breaking down before the barrel into a trot, turning it, and then loping home. He was actually doing it marvelously, so my trainer thought we should try that to see how he was. Well, it wasn't as marvelous as it had been before, he wouldn't break down into the trot right away, which caused a half-loping mess around 3rd... that's not pretty! regroup.
From there, we attempted 1st barrel, lope to 2nd, lope to third, attempt to break it down, or if not, turn the barrel twice and lope home. After a couple of attempts, including my trainer handed me a crop so I could lightly pop his shoulder when he attempted to take too-wide of a berth around third, my horse turned into that dizzy mess he often does when speed is introduced. My trainer was just laughing and said that we'd lost Jingle's brain again, and that it was time to go back to slow, because clearly we needed to work on the slow stuff before we could ask him for speed. (story of my life) We broke it back down to a nice jog or trot and worked at the pattern from there, and he did really well by the end of it. I was able to regain control of his pea-brain, and he was able to figure out how to pick up his shoulder and nicely turn a barrel. Despite his "Hey mahm, I've seen barrel horses enter the arena sideways from the alley and then gallop off, maybe I should do that across the entire arena?!"
My trainer left me with some homework For Next Time she wanted me getting Jingle's nose following my hand, especially when we were loping, because he does it perfectly at the trot. She told me that first off, when I'm loping the rail, at every corner in the arena she wants me to come off, lope a small, tight circle, and then lope away, at every corner. Second, she wanted me loping half the arena and then coming straight down the centre, and then off again, because Jingle still has a hard time carrying himself very straight at a lope, and needs practice.
Today I went out to see my boy with this homework in mind. My horse was a freight-train at the lope. excellent. but I was determined to keep going. See, with all this slow work and time i've spent on Jingle my horse can now move off my leg pretty damn nicely, we have our pivots, turn arounds, sidepassing, rollbacks.. all of that, is pretty much down, but only at the slower gaits. Now that he knows how to do that, I feel as if we can leave Kindergarten and welcome him back to the world of speed in a nice, calm way. Yep, No, Jingle don't play that game. Jingle is a cyclone, intent on ripping up the arena from within.
It was hard work, I think both of us kept looking at eachother like "WTF are we doing?!" I was sweating buckets and so was he, but by the end of the day, my speed-demon was loping around my hand in the corners, and not being too much of a strung out idiot about asking him for more speed. I was happy.
We left the barn and ambled down the road (I was in my T-shirt, hurray! is this spring in Alberta finally?!) Jingle's birthday is tomorrow and in my family, the tradition is that my mom always tells my birth story to me on my birthday. Well.. Jingle, I'm not your "real" biological mother so I don't know that story (I'm sure it goes... somewhere out in a field during a shitty day in April, you managed to survive the birthing process) but I found myself telling Jingle the "story of us". I am a sap. I know. As we ambled down the road I got to the part of this last summer where he had gone missing and was nowhere to be found and completely choked up and burst into tears. There was a lot of petting and his ears were cocked back and he kept looking back at me. haha poor boy has a psycho for a mother.
Anyways, as I was sobbing and telling my horse how much I loved him and how much he meant to me, two massive dogs came bolting up to the fence line and scared the shit out of both of us. He turned on his haunches and jumped right out of his skin and away from that fence line. It took me a bit of time to get him slowed down and stopped. Great metaphor... As is our life together, one part sappy love story, one part hysterical ridiculousness.