Making Changes

by Equestriangradstudent

Monday and Tuesday (today) are combined in this post because I was too exhausted to write anything last night.

Monday

It was almost fifty degrees by eight thirty when I headed to Studly’s stall. The sun was out but the wind was starting to build, but I had a plan and was determined to make it happen.

Ron had told me last time that I should work Studly down before I got on him, so when I got to the arena we started lunging. Our usual lunge line routine is to do walk/trot transitions until he relaxes and can do them smoothly, then a couple of canter transitions without cross cantering and back to relaxing walk/trot transitions. Our lunge work today was a lot more chasing and a lot less relaxing. I was still trying to promote some sort of rhythm, but Ron wanted me to drive him. Studly started cross cantering more often as he got tired. He also broke out in a sweat pretty quickly. It was hot and he has a full winter coat.

I was ready to get on before Rebecca showed up but decided to wait for her. I let him walk and catch his breath. Ron immediately corrected me, saying that the point of this was to keep him out of breath for riding. Rebecca came in right then and Studly panicked, so we had to go forward anyway. He’s taken to eyeballing her pretty hard when she comes in now. I’m not sure if he blames her for my falls or if she’s gotten more nervous because of them, but he’s definitely not happy to see her anymore.

When he seemed relaxed/tired, we went to the block. Our plan was to have Rebecca free-heed him to the block to keep some of the routine the same, but he wouldn’t stay with her. Finally, since we were getting no feedback from Ron, I took over and walked him up to the block. I got on and we stood there for a minute. Because I had no way of asking him to walk off (Rebecca was in the center of the arena being as non-existent as possible), I hopped down. I got on and off a few times with him very calm and even happy to be doing something easy. Eventually he took a couple steps with me on, probably just to shift his weight, and I hopped down and praised him. I had Rebecca walk him around a bit to see if he would settle with her, but he kept leaving her to come to me. Finally it was time to end, and we headed back to the stall, tired but content.

I guess it’s good that he still feels comfortable with me, but it would make everything so much easier if he would accept Rebecca. I was so glad that he settled back down, and would be completely fine doing this kind of thing for the rest of the quarter. I just want him to stay relaxed through the whole process.

Ron wasn’t pleased with the work we did on Monday. He made that clear this morning when I walked in the arena. I’m not sure if he’s too much of a cowboy or if he feels the need to entertain his audience, but either way I’m getting tired of it. He leaves us to our own devices until he feels the need to correct us. I wish he would just let us continue with our process rather than interfere, because so far it’s only led to me getting hurt and Studly getting upset. Which brings me to…

Tuesday

Studly was calmer in the stall, which made me feel better about taking it slow on Monday. When I let him go in the arena he trotted around a bit and watched me set up the block and unwrap the lunge line. Because he didn’t want to run around free, I clipped him up and we started lunging. We did a lot more transitions in and out of canter than Monday, trying to secure the correct lead. Studly was definitely more aware of his balance. He reacted sharply when Rebecca came through the gate, which was about the point that I was ready to wind down the lunge work. We had to lunge for a bit longer to settle back down. When he relaxed again I unclipped the line and free heeded him around the rail to prep for mounting work.

He felt willing and clearly was comfortable with what we were doing, so I figured we’d do the same thing as Monday. Ron had told me that I needed to add leg and make him go if he just wanted to stand, so I was planning our path toward that goal. After walking him up and getting on and off, Ron decided to involve himself in the process. Rebecca had been standing in the center of the arena, prepared to help shape Studly if he took off. Ron wanted her to be up at his shoulder pretending that she had a lead rope.

When she started walking up quietly, Ron reprimanded her and made her walk faster. Studly ran backward from the block. I wasn’t holding him so he saw that as an invitation to leave. I stepped down from the block and told Rebecca to heed him around the way I had just done. He walked around with her but refused to go to the block until I left it. She got him lined up and I walked back toward the block. Studly started dancing around, not sure who to listen to. Ron decided that was the perfect time to tell us that we were being too careful and I needed to jump on him. I did, and we scratched and praised him to help him settle. That wasn’t what Ron wanted either. He told Rebecca to walk off. As soon as she turned her shoulders, Studly tensed up and started to scoot. I was able to calm him down and tell her to stop at the same time, but Ron wasn’t in a waiting mood and told us to walk again. Rebecca turned and Studly and I took off.

Because of the falls I had on Friday I couldn’t hold myself in evenly. Studly, being a two year old new to riding, has no balance with a rider on his back. I pulled so hard on the right side of my saddle that he was thrown to the right. We both hit the wall, I swung onto his side, hit my head against the viewing booth window and came off. As I jumped to my feet, Ron told me not to get back on. We lunged for the rest of the session, calming him back down and working on transitions.

That was probably for the best because my helmet took a pretty hard beating. My skullcap was broken on Friday so I was wearing my hunt cap, which I loved dearly ($340 later, I have ordered replacements for both of them, and at a great discount I might add).

Jen (the head of the training department) is coming to help me on Thursday. Ron has apparently run out of ideas, which I was relieved to hear. I worked with Jen for a year and started two horses under her supervision, so I trust her opinion far more than Ron’s. As I have no safe helmet at the moment, we’re going to put a different rider on the little man. I hope it goes well. He might be better with me on the ground. Fingers crossed!