Thankfully, the sun is out today. As short lived as that is likely to be.
Yesterday, as you may recall, was riding lesson day. Perhaps my last for awhile, but I'll get to that a little later...
For starters, it seems that many of the men of the world are suffering some seasonal-affected-disorder (SAD) or as I think more likely, limited-off-roading-disorder (LORD). Hence, in my life at least, the male was irritable and I sought the quiet peace of the barn instead of watching him growl at youtube videos of motorcycle engines. Seriously. And yes, I'm sure he'd have a rant about me, but he doesn't blog, so BLEH!
The rain that had fallen all day had turned into wet snow, but I didn't really care. I wanted a good warm up on my pony and have an awesome lesson. I was focused. Despite the miserable weather outside.
Boy was I surprised to find a horse trailer and truck in the driveway at W's. Boo. And then two more vehicles in the drive. Aurgh. So much for peace and quiet. Lovely ol'Spring Break.
I could see from the distance that Moon was standing in the now flooded paddock (it was *nearly* dry last Saturday), his rain sheet soaking wet and clingy to him. He looked sad. I suddenly felt SO good that I was smart enough to grab his winter blanket so I could take his rainsheet home to dry (nothing really dries in the barn because of the humidity and the fact it's not really "hot").
The barn was busy. We found a corner and I started taking off the layers of wetness. Thankfully his schneiders liner was dry! At one point while I was undressing him, he started poking the cats that were standing on the stall door in front of him. At the same time, a boarder was trying to get her rather stubborn horse to walk forward into the arena. She was working pretty hard, trying every tactic she could think of, including a light tap on the rump with the lead rope. I suddenly discovered how very easily people can misinterpret things without you meaning them at all!
You see, as she was tapping her horse on the butt, and as Moon was poking the cats, I said aloud "If you keep that up, he's gonna rip your face off".
Okay, to me, totally innocent comment to my horse. You keep poking the kitty, you'll get a mitt-full of claws across your face. Silly horse.
Let's just say that the horse owner thought I was talking to HER!!! : O
Yup. As in "If you keep trying to force your horse to move, he's gonna go nuts and rip your face off lady."
So of course, she spun around and said "EXCUSE ME?!" looking rather perturbed.
I stared for a moment, realizing how grossly mistaken she was in thinking the comment was directed at her!!
"I was talking to Moon!" I hurriedly said, realizing how awful it must have sounded in her mind! "He's poking the cats and they're going to claw him in the face if he continues".
...needless to say, I'm not 100% certain she actually believed me! And I was actually a little irritated that she might think it had been directed at her. Then again, I was kinda just irritable period, so it probably had nothing to do with her.
Dried Moon off as well as I could and then tacked him up. Stood back and looked at his saddle fit again...
H is lending me a larger gullet to try, and I think that'll help things a little. I'm also hoping to pick up a thinline saddle fitter pad from the US. I'd love to get away without it, but it's the best pad I can find for easing back pain, and I really want to do everything I can to help him feel better. The recommendations for this pad are awesome and I potentially found an awesome deal on a used one online. Plus it's shimmable, so I can potentially make small saddle fitting improvements where needed.
I also suspect that adjusting the saddle will help my position, but only time will tell on that one.
Once ready to ride, I dragged Moon into the arena and was greeted by a busy ring. One horse just finished being driven but still hanging around, and two riders in a group lesson?? Never met any of the horses before, and Moon was a bit looky but keeping his head in the game. Wasn't even spooking in the locations where their horses were finding it scary.
Despite the rain that was blasting outside, the strong winds and the snow sliding down the side of the arena, we seemed to be holding things together. Until suddenly he started calling.
He turned into Mr. Stud. Was strutting his stuff for the ladies, calling and prancing and snorting. Gotta admit, his snort was pretty cute. But the calling was annoying.
We kept working and I thought he'd come around once they all headed out of the ring. W was set to start teaching when another horse came into the ring on a lunge. Owner asked if it'd be a problem is she lunged him during my lesson, just for a little bit.
I thought I'd be nice, and said yes.
Not the owner's fault, but the horse was kinda young and excited.
So there I was, intent on a gorgeous lesson on softness and contact and straightness and we were starting out rough but okay. Moon was still calling but we had moments of beauty. And after 3 weeks off, it was great.
...until Crazy Horse on the lunge line got stupid.
ZIPPING around his owner, bucking and kicking and having a tantrum.
Now Moon, in his wonderful nature, felt he should stand stock still the faster the other horse careened around his owner. Except when I'd bump him with my legs to keep him moving, and he'd SURGE forward then stop again. Then crazy horse kept getting crazier, Moon was bug-eyed and concerned looking, occasionally spooking as crazy horse would come around the corner at the same time he did (crazy horse was being lunged in the middle of the arena, so our two circles touched at one point).
I mumbled to W "I take it back. No lunging". : P
Of course, Crazy horse didn't want to stop. Took awhile to get him settled back down and then they headed out of the ring. Moon was still calling himself "horse" (hahaha) and I was pretty frustrated. Then he seemed deaf to my leg aids, refusing to walk on the wall and outright ignoring my cues to trot. My legs were tired because I myself haven't ridden much lately and there's ZERO fun in bumping a horse at EVERY step.
W finally handed me a crop. I admit, he got one smack that was harder then I intended, but we got a LOT better response after that. Granted, he still refused to ride along the arena wall, especially since the snow kept sliding off.
I know W could tell I was frustrated. I wasn't angry at Moon at all. I was just REALLY disappointed that our ride was NOT what I wanted. You can give me all the bull-crap, feel-good lines about "try your best" or "don't expect perfect" or "think about everything that went well", or "don't expect too much" or "appreciate the journey" or "there's a lesson in everything"...
Can honestly say, I didn't give a crap. He was ignoring me, fighting me, we sucked, the arena was spooky, he was calling like an idiot, I was hot and not riding well, he was stiff...
Oh, and I was irritable to begin with. And please, don't bother with the comments about having patience, or relaxing, or pressure or any other things that are supposed to make someone feel like it's not okay to just be irritable and frustrated with a crappy ride. I actually said to W at one point "I just want to beat him into it. But I suspect that's not an approved method of training".
Let's face it. I'm never going to beat him into anything. Ever. But I felt a bit better to confess my frustrations.
So, we rode. I felt kinda proud of myself at times for how cool and soft I stayed in the saddle despite his antics. There's definitely a time when I would have been irritated a whole lot faster and been stiff and resistant in the saddle. Up until the Crazy-Horse moments, I was actually feeling pretty level-headed and patient with the whole thing.
We worked and worked. He spooked occasionally (which means taking a step sideways) and only once lost his mind when a huge chunk of snow slid off the roof directly in front of us in the arena and crashed to the ground. He stopped on a dime and I wound up on his neck : P
He gave me some good moments. Moments for a horse out of work as long as him, were awesome. And when you add in the nasty weather, barn full of anxious horses (you could hear them kicking their stalls and biting each other) and nervous energy in the arena, he was pretty spectacular. W said he's come such a long way from last year, and he's starting to find a frame and work through himself in moments. Yes, there were a great many moments in that ride that sucked. LOTS. And I got stiff and bracey and he got stiff and irritable and all that. But who cares. It's always going to be an issue for us. And it's probably always going to irritate me. But that doesn't make me love him any less.
I'm doing alright by him. A couple more weeks and we'll easily be back where we started and continuing along.
I might be calling an end to my riding lessons.
The trailer upgrades are going to come at a price, and the easiest place to pull the $ from is my riding lesson allotment. I've weighed the decision and while it sucks (I LOVE getting Wendy's advice and help), it's a good choice. We're going to struggle a fair bit on our own, but you can't have help forever. Let's see what we can do on our own for awhile and enjoy the spoils of our choice by hauling out as frequently as possible.
So I've got two days to practice for our practice test on Saturday (I'm dining for my birthday tonight, so no riding). I've pretty much got my test memorized, but I was shocked to learn that the intent is for us to judge one another. YIKES! : O
Yup. I'm thinking this week I should try to break in my tall boots under saddle (ike, scuffing?) and I might get up early on Saturday to primp Mr. Moon for the "fun show". I mean, why not?! Braid his mane, polish his shoes, put on a clean white pad and ham it up!