Horses are frustrating. But what would the sport be without hardwork, sweat and tears.. okay horse but can we maybe skip the hardwork when the temps are below 0.. and the sweat and the tears??
So Riley has been on a pretty great streak- I’d almost forgotten his asshole qualities and tendencies to stop dead and have a melt down. Yep, almost forgot.. but it only goes up from there.
Since coming back from my vacation my bay pony has been nothing but the devil. He has tried everything he can to get out of work during every ride for the past 2 weeks. He stops. He romps. And boy does he rear. And then after his fit he may lope around, soft, but not much faster than he would prefer to go. Then just when you think he might be back to normal he would stop dead and go at it again.
I had spent the last 7 months building up a work ethic for this horse, so after a few months of finally having him in the mindset where he was enjoying riding and ready to learn, this setback couldn’t be more disappointing.
So, why has this happened then? My original diagnosis was that this was the first time he had fallen out of his regular riding routine, and he was being naughty by trying out what he could get away with. Well it’s 2 weeks later and he has yet to give it up, so that on it’s own is not likely.. so what else do we have to consider? Well, he has recently transitioned into being on indoor board after living out most of his life. It has been frigid and disgustingly cold. He was recently clipped for the first time during the midst of winter. And the list of excuses and what ifs could go on. These are all factors I will have to take note of with this horse to remember in the future as I get to know his quirks.
What I can conclude from these past 2 weeks is that everything I’ve taught him is still in there, but what this horse needs from me right now is to go right back to basics. Knowing this, his first step to recovery is getting rid of the timelines. Yes, it would be great to be ready to show in April, and I would have liked to get him off property in March, but for the time being all future plans are cancelled. I need to worry about the now.
For the next how ever long this is going to take, Riley and I are back to our original riding routine. I will need to lunge him before every ride to get him moving forward and gaining back some respect from him. When I do ride him I need either my coach or someone capable in the arena or on the ground to help get him moving and not giving him the chance to stop and rear. I need to expect respect and cooperation during our ground work, but while riding him I need to be more encouraging and nagging in order to keep myself safe but still start breaking his naughty habits.
As disappointing as this seamed, I can’t help but compare this situation to when Gracie was injured. I always said that Gracie took one for the team, because by putting herself out of commission for awhile it actually got me starting Riley in lessons and therefor beginning his jumping career. I had been frustrated with the way Gracie felt after she was back into work again, and much preferred riding Riley for awhile. Now that Riley is the one who has seemingly self destructed, it only makes sense that he would be returning the favor in letting Gracie have her time to shine and take her place back as the favourite. Wow guys, I have enough room in my heart for both of you, get your heads in the game and lets get ready to horse show already!