Yesterday the group I ride with got rained out. We decided to head into Ione for a ride under their covered arena… which, once we arrived we discovered that there was a show in progress. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining there and we had miles of trails to head out and work on. This arena is a bit scary for some horses, and sometimes Sue gets sucked into the energy. I don’t know if it’s because it’s covered, or there’s cows, or what, but something just makes them all a little on edge. I was so proud – we warmed up and he was doing great – definitely alert and paying attention to his surroundings, but listening and responding to me. Same thing when we headed out to the trail. He loped when I asked him to and when he got a little crazy (ran a bit faster than I was asking for), responded to my cues to slow down.
We came around a bend on the trail and I spotted a puddle. I thought “we’re having a great day and he’s scared of puddles… since he’s listening, let’s give it a try”. It was about 10 feet long and about 2 feet wide… I went to the short side and asked him to cross.
You would have thought I was asking him to step off the edge of the Grand Canyon.
We fought. My trainer and the rest of the group watched and coached and encouraged me. I got more and more frustrated and I could feel Sue doing the same. We’ve crossed puddles and creeks before and while he’s been nervous, it was never a fight like this. I started to feel like all of our trust was disappearing.
Finally, my trainer asked me to step off so she could work him on it. It took a while, but she got his mind back and he finally did it. At this point, both he and I were covered in sweat and exhausted. I was a little embarrassed that I wasn’t able to master something that was seemingly so simple, especially since we had done so well on what seemed like more advanced stuff earlier in the day. I hopped back on and we spent the remainder of our ride just chilling and reconnecting.
I think the day was more traumatic for me than for him. It reminds me that every time I get comfortable and feel like I’ve got this, something new will pop up. He’s young, I’m new(ish), and it’s all part of the process of learning and growing together. I got so focused on the “bad” part of the ride (which in reality was a really good learning experience) and didn’t focus on all of the really great stuff we did.
We’ll conquer the boogie man in the puddle someday!