Today was the first day Rebecca helped me with Studly. She was a little nervous, but then Training One has that effect. We started out with some patting and scratching so Studly could get used to her. He seemed skeptical but not nervous, so she led him around the arena. She did some transitions with him to test his responses. They weren’t great, so I started coaching her through them. When she had crisp transitions and Studly seemed relaxed, we headed to the mounting block.
Rebecca had some trouble getting Studly to stand at the block. He kept shifting because she wasn’t as clear as Jo in her body language. I know it’s not fair to compare them, but Jo made everything go so smoothly. When she finally got him lined up with the block, I got on immediately. No need to fiddle around if he doesn’t want to stand. He felt pretty relaxed, so I asked Rebecca to back him a couple steps. She did, but very loudly. His head shot up and he braced against her,so I had to tell her to stop.
We were finally able to walk around the arena, but Rebecca took everything very mechanically. Where Jo and I walked until Studly felt tense, then stopped to praise him, Rebecca felt the need to halt him constantly. I finally had to tell her that I would let her know when he needed to halt, but the delay in the communication messed up the timing of the transitions.
And then there was the melting snow. It was quite warm and all of the snow was melting and sliding down the roof. This is scary to most trained horses, so I don’t blame Studly for being scared. I just wish Rebecca had handled it better. As we were completing our second lap around the arena, some snow fell off the roof. Studly spooked, Rebecca stopped doing anything and I hung on for dear life, saying “whoa” in what I hoped was a calm voice. Studly stopped and Rebecca tried to get back in position, but as she did Studly swung himself around to watch her. When he did this, his butt hit the wall and he panicked. He took off across the arena and ran straight into the gate. I hit the wall as he ran the other way. I had no idea what Rebecca was doing. I jumped back up and went to catch him. He was quite shaken, so Rebecca and I just scratched him for a minute while we waited for Ron to comment.
He said nothing. Probably wasn’t even watching. We walked back to the mounting block so I could get back on, and that’s when I heard the dreaded click. “Why don’t you just unclip the line if you want to ride free!” Ron thinks he’s so clever. And poor Rebecca started to do it! She didn’t know he was trying to be funny. We waited for a minute to decide whether he was serious, then I got back on. Studly wasn’t as worried as I expected him to be, but we had to en with that because the hour was up and Ron released his students.
It was incredibly hard to explain everything to Rebecca. I hadn’t even thought about how I explained things to Jo because it always felt like we thought together. Everything just flowed. When we did talk, it was random gossip, comments on Studly’s cuteness or complaints about Ron. With Rebecca, I had to constantly correct her. To her credit, she did everything I asked and tried to refine her body language as much as possible. I think the problem I’m having is that her feel isn’t as developed as Jo’s. I really can’t fault her; she tries to follow all of my commands to the letter and she’s a sweet person. She wants to do everything right.
So why am I so annoyed with her? I know it’s not her fault.