Know When to Fold

Last week I had the last lesson of the day with two other adult ammys and I was pumped!  It had been a long week and I desperately needed a win on Cooper.  Which in hindsight is not smart to put that type of pressure on horse or human.

As I’ve mentioned he is still one who I just can’t seem to figure out.  We walked, we trotted, it was okay-ish. Flatwork for the two of us comes together slowly, so I spent a lot of time circling and trying to install forward, but not fussy with my body. By the time we cantered, I was getting crazy with my hands, and Cooper was practically backwards in the bridle.  We were going horribly.  My trainer was on us, trying to work us through the hot mess.  After a circle or two that was marginally better, I gave Cooper a pat and changed direction.

This way was so much worse.  He was bouncy, I was holding him (making him more bouncy) and honestly I could feel the tears threatening.  I am not a crier, but that night nothing my trainer said was sinking in.  Basically I had no right to be on a horse. I was frustrated at the horse, even more angry at myself, and honestly a bit scared that I was going to send this mild-mannered horse into hysterics. I’m told it didn’t look that bad, but it felt bad.  I pulled him to a walk, waved my trainer down and told her I was done for the night.

She gave me a very odd look, but nodded and she advised a quick walk around outside to calm down and sent me off.  I was horrified, and felt every inch a dramatic ugly crying quitter…even though I made it all the way to our outdoor before any real tears came out.  Those might have been more about the embarrassment too, but that doesn’t matter.

I couldn’t think of another time in my 15+ years of riding that I’d ever walked out during a lesson.  

Even days later, thinking back, I am still embarrassed.  I think I did the right thing for myself that ride – since my brain, body and horse connection wasn’t there.  But it still sucks.  I totally felt like I let my trainer down.

Another adult ammy talked me down from my crazy place when Cooper and I finally made it back to the barn, and trainer texted me to check in.  She reminded me that it’s supposed to be fun, and if it’s not I need to tell her.  

I think we might do some confidence boosting types of rides on some horses I’m really familiar with before tackling Coop again.  You have to know when to admit you need a break, even if it sounds stupid.

I want to ride him well.  But forcing myself in this situation isn’t going well either.  I’m really hoping that I just need a mental break to regain my sea legs, before diving back in.

It Was Okay

In honoring my last post about having realistic expectations, I showed up to my lesson with Cooper in an optimistic mood.  I told myself that he was the best school horse for me, and that I should be very glad to have something that will take care of me today.  I also noted to a riding buddy that he was not my type of horse but that I need to know how to ride him.  Not everything was going to go around like O or Dee did.  Horse #2 may be more like him.  I should be prepared.
I got the big giraffe all tacked up (so cute in his green extras) and headed to our lesson.  Warmup was abbreviated to avoid the heat, and we started popping over a little x.  There were a few ugly ones, usually when I pulled without leg support.  While it was irritating, my trainer just had me keep coming around until I understood that the horse was going regardless, and that he prefers a nice release…so I should probably try that sometime.

Forest green on a chestnut!

We laughed (while I tried to recover from our 1000 attempts) and decided that while he goes around a bit like a giraffe, he really needs someone to be soft and offer a big release. My reaction is to whoa and try to get his head down, but he wants me to kind of toss him the reins.  It really does boggle my brain.

We moved into some courses and while there were a few moments where I should’ve left the horse alone to do his job, it wasn’t totally ugly.  We might of even had a few nice fences…dare I say it.

Super attractive.

At the end of the ride I agreed with my trainer in that he is not the hero in my horse love story-but he has a lot to teach me.  I think after this ride, the biggest win is that I could be grateful, and that I wasn’t obsessing in a negative sense.  I went out, rode, and it was okay!  It’s a step in the right direction both in riding Cooper and mentally handling my riding.