Friday, December 4, 2015

Hard.

The inner workings of Bobby's brain sometimes get the best of me. After all our years together, and through all the different things we've done, I feel like most of the time I have a fairly good grasp of what's going on with him and how to get, if not the best, than at least the most he's capable of giving that day out of him.

It's hard work. Bobby is not an easy horse, and while I get uncomfortable giving myself praise of any sort, I know that if he looks like he's being a pleasure to ride, it's because of considerable skill on my part. This past week, however, I've felt like I'm slowly getting dragged down into the pits of despair by my horse.

Trainer is now in a position where health-wise, she's not going to be able to give lessons anymore. BM and I knew this was coming, though of course we were hopeful that we'd get to spend so much more time with her. She's without a doubt been the biggest influence on my riding, even through such a short amount of time that I got to work with her.

After a couple difficult rides in a row where I felt like I couldn't grasp even the most basic of concepts (How do I get my horse to fill the left rein?! I know I know how to do this, but my brain cannot brain right now and make it happen.), all I wanted was a lesson to get yelled at. Hearing that news instead, I took all of the mistakes I'd made this past week and every twitch Bobby did that wasn't asked for to heart and let it really get to me.

I feel like we're going to get stagnant, to get stuck where we are and never progress, and I want so badly to be past that point. Or even worse, we're going to slide backwards and undo all the work Trainer has done. I will try to take lessons with BM when I can, but she's more than three times as expensive as Trainer.

"my hay wasn't put out here before i was.
BRING IT TO ME."

Bobby missed two days of turnout due to the weather and the barn trying to eliminate the build up of mud. I rode him both of those days, so he did get out of his stall, but they weren't the best rides. I ended up getting off after fifteen minutes or so yesterday because he was throwing himself into the wall when I asked him to do a canter transition that didn't involve flinging the front half of his body skyward and shooting off upon landing.

I know. So cruel of me.

I put him on the longe instead, and while initially I tried to get him to maintain a chill trot, I quit engaging with him period. He simply wouldn't settle down and listen to me. I ended up standing still and letting him canter laps around me while I played on my phone. When he was too exhausted to canter, he brought himself back to the trot and trotted until he was too tired to even do that. I let him come in, gave him a pat, and put him away.

We'll officially call that one a write off day.

free flowing forehead sweat.

thank god for a fresh clip.

We're at a point in our training where he's being asked to take the next step forward. It's hard work, and Bobby doesn't like hard. I have to make every step super repetitive and easy so that when I do ask for a little more, he doesn't even notice I've done it.

He's such a dopey, polite boy on the ground that it gets lost on most people just how sensitive to things he is. He very much takes not getting things right to heart, and he has a hard time moving on when you correct him and tell him what he's doing isn't what you're asking for.

For example, he's mastered bringing his haunches in and out and crossing over with his hind legs to the point where that's easy for him. Now whenever I shift my weight, he thinks that's what I want him to do. If, instead, I'm asking for a leg yield, he has a mini meltdown before doing the leg yield on the next pass. If the pass after that I want to just go straight, his mind is thoroughly blown.

Letting go and moving on are not his strong points.

I feel like all of my rides for the past couple weeks have been about getting him to relax his back and let go of all his tension. I'd like to move on from that and do some real homework. I know that in the long run, knowing all these different tricks to manage the tension is going to pay off when we get to a show and run into the same problem, but it's a little discouraging at times.

i longed before today's ride and got all the bronc stuff out pronto so we could go like this.

I'd like to just bring out a pleasant horse one day, have an easy ride where he shows off everything he knows without making a huge pissy fuss about it, and then call it quits. Maybe I'm being too much of a defeatist. It's hard to look past the journey of getting to that point when you're solidly aboard the "This shit is fucking hard" train. We have to put in the time, do our homework, and keep crawling forward like we always do.

Instead of crying about it (definitely cried about it), I need to make a game plan, set some realistic if boring goals, suck it up, and get back to work.

There's lots of positive to pick out of these rides if I try. He's gotten better with me carrying the whip, and even let me brush it against his butt with only a minor meltdown before remembering that when it did such scary things, he was being asked to lengthen. And when he did lengthen? For the first time ever, I was able to sit it, and it was oh so easy.

Small wins. It's what we're all about here.

stank eye.

18 comments:

  1. This. You're basically describing Pig. I've become a much more aware and sensitive rider because of him, but that doesn't mean it's been altogether a good thing. I still can't reliably tell you my horse will come out and demonstrate what he can do on any given day. He's a good horse, but very demanding and sensitive and some days it's hard not to let that get to me too... So, you know. Not alone out there and all. :)

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  2. ugh so frustrating, i'm sorry - esp about Trainer not able to continue teaching (i'm so gonna miss all her snippy little zingers!)... c'mon bobby - we just wanna see your fancy!

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  3. I feel you. It's a slumpy time of year, and losing a trainer you love really sucks! Going through the same thing right now. But you're a tough cookie. You'll figure something out.

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  4. Riding is basically a glacial exercise, and it sucks sometimes. You bring your A game to ride, and your horse forgets that there's even a game to have. And it's so hard to be the adult in that situation and just deal with what you have, even if it's 98123748734923 steps back from yesterday.

    My Paint horse seems similar to Bobby, a very very sensitive soul. He tried so hard to please and was always anticipating the next thing and lord help me if he thought he had done something wrong, because he'd melt down so quickly and then there was no coming back from that. I never had a ride that was NOT about managing the tension. It sucks because it's always there. Pushing the line without going over it is a tough, tough job. Hugs.

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  5. Ugh no I loved trainer. She was fantastic. :-(

    Not to make it worse, but yeah, totally doing the same thing here. We've made some really great progress this year, but most of my rides lately have been more about staying alive and pretending to have a brain than about progress.

    Sooooo. Yeah. It happens. Fingers crossed it gets better soon.

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  6. I'm sorry about losing your trainer. She seemed pretty awesome. Can you find another trainer aside from BM?

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  7. Add me to the list of readers dealing with the same stuff. This weekend, I plan to spend a few hours wandering around on the trails, because I know we can at least do that well. (I'm aware I likely just jinxed myself big time by saying that)

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  8. Fiction must be Bobby's long lost twin. You always describe EXACTLY the same problems I have with him.

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  9. Noooo trainer was so amazing! That's one of my fears, I have one trainer I go to when shit really hits the fan and she's been having serious health issues for a couple of years. She's doing okay now but I'm afraid that she'll have to back off teaching one day and I'll be lost without having her in the back of my mind. Sucks that BM is so expensive, that's crazy!

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  10. A horsey mentor of mine always claims that every experience we are giving is for a reason. Sometimes it is hard to see, but I definitely think it's true. So much of what are horses teach us transfers to the rest of our life, so when I am in a rough spot it really helps me to try and think "What am I supposed to be getting out of this?" Sometimes it's patience, or even things like enjoying the present moment instead of only focusing on the future. Maybe it's a little far fetched, but I think that changing your focus to the good helps no matter the situation. I am sure everything will work out!

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  11. Girl you are not the only one! I promise you that. Bacardi is special type of horse and I feel has issues similar to Bobby sometimes. Gotta love them though. Chin up <3

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  12. Sorry. The one thing I never realized growing up riding a bunch of horses is gown hard it is to just ride one. Every flaw is magnified because it's yours to fix or live with. I think most of us have horses with good, bad, and really Fucking ugly traits. It's finding the right mix of those for your temperament and ability. You are far more patient and capable than me.

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  13. I cheer myself up with this quote all the time for my little firecracker of a mare (who actually sounds kind of like Bobby).

    "Great horses are not often easy horses. They have big egos and idiosyncrasies and quirks and foibles. Horses of a lifetime do exist, but only for riders so skillful, tactful, and courageous that they can unlock and then reveal the brilliance of their equine partners."

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  14. Sounds like my summer, so much doubt. You will get through it, hellz yeah sitting lengthening, hang on to that!

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  15. I'm so bummed about your coach :( I like the quote from piccolopony, fits Mr. Robert quite well.

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  16. Horses. They are so good at making you feel all the feels. You have done an amazing job thus far, that is very clear. Just another bump in the road you will ride through!

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  17. What a bummer to lose a trainer you really liked so soon after starting with her! I doubt the time of year is helping at all either - we miss you longer days with sunlight! I think there is nothing wrong with occasionally feeling defeated and discouraged but it certainly does suck. Glad you are finding a way to look at some of the positives at least!

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  18. 100% relate to this. It's slump time. I've shed a few tears myself. You are not alone! So sorry to hear that you are losing trainer.

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.