Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Being made an example of....

Yet another makeup lesson this past Saturday because weather did not cooperate last Tuesday evening. My lesson on Saturday was interesting. I was in with the usual "senior" riders who also happen to be beginners. I sort of liked being with riders my own age. :-) They have had about 7 or 8 lessons and are at the stage where they are learning to lope. Gem had not had much time outside on Friday due to the extreme mud conditions caused by the balmy +10C weather that melted lots of snow - it was like Spring!! He was raring to go on Saturday and a joy to ride. Here's what was really cool about Saturday's lesson - LA used me as an example throughout the lesson....and in a good way!!

"You'll notice that Wolfie is wearing spurs. She's able to wear them because her legs are quiet...."

"See how Wolfie's heels are down...."

"Wolfie is posting on the correct diagonal..."

"Notice the tension that Wolfie has on her reins...."

"That was a nice departure..."

"Wolfie is on the correct lead...."

How cool is that?!! A first for me. It was a boost to my confidence and my ego. :-)

Our lesson was not canceled last evening. It was freezing! Temperature was only around -11C, but I guess not having ridden in the evening for a while has made me soft. :-) I arrived a little early and , as usual, as I walked down the aisle, I asked "Where is my beautiful boy?" He popped is head around the corner of his stall and we greeted each other with sniffing and blowing. Then he started pushing me and mouthing my clothing. He fussed when I tried to put the halter on him - he kept biting it. He tried to rush me a bit when I opened his stall door. He was fidgety when I was grooming him. I could tell that lesson was going to be a bit of a challenge. Saturday we were back to -2C, so everything that melted on Friday turned into frozen mud and ice rinks. He has not had his usual long turnout time the last few days due to these icy, treacherous conditions and he was cranky.

So, what comes up must come down. Saturday we were a good example. Last night, not so much. He was not focused, he didn't want to jog, he was being a bit of a brat. Usually, I can just squeeze gently as I kiss the air to get him moving, but last night he ignored my requests and I had to start kicking to get his attention. When he finally did respond to my requests to jog, I managed to move him up to a pretty nice posting trot a couple of times.

Then we moved on to loping. I watched my classmates breeze around the arena; once, twice, large circles, small circles. Sigh. Now it's our turn. Our departures are fabulous if I do say so myself. From a standstill, he sort of floats in the air and takes off. Lovely. It's keeping him moving that can sometimes be the issue. Last night, he would slow down to a trot before we had completed the circle. We tried it again and again. We fought every time we loped. I push, I kick, he tells me to go fly a kite. I was beginning to feel like I was in Groundhog Day.

I did manage to get him to complete a full circle of the arena. My turn came up again way too quickly. I hadn't even caught my breath from the previous run. LA handed me a dressage whip. Gem saw the whip and there was a subtle change in his manner. I started off on my run. My goal this time was to go around twice - yes, to reach the goal I had set for myself a few months ago! With my classmates cheering me on and LA yelling instructions, I pushed and pinched and kicked my way around the arena (I did not use the whip). Every time he started to slow down, I pinched with my legs or kicked him on. I don't think my legs were very quiet. :-) We went around once without slowing to a trot and we were well on our way to completing the second round. It was within my reach....the crowd was roaring.... I started to smile.....the last bend was coming up fast.....and then as we started around it, Gem made a sharp turn into the middle and stopped dead. The turn and stop were so abrupt, that I lost my stirrups and almost went over his head, but the saddle horn in my gut and a hand on the crest of his neck stopped me from being catapulted from the saddle. I was about 6 feet short of my goal. Crap. Missed it by that much!!

I was exhausted. My legs were screaming. LA was kind enough to tell me that I had done a good job and I should take this as a win. She said riding Gem is like riding two horses and the fact that I was able to keep him moving was an accomplishment. She admitted that she has to really get on his case quite regularly to keep him loping five or six times around the arena. My jaw dropped. "You lope him five or six times around the arena?", I asked. "Yep." Cripes, LA must be friggin Super Woman.

I was stiff when I got home. The vodka soda I had last evening was the most delicious I have ever had. :-)

So, not a stellar performance by the Wolfie/Gem team last night and certainly not the shining example we were on Saturday. But you know what makes me smile? The fact that I was able to work through resistance and repeatedly convince a 1300 lb animal to move....and to move quickly. Yes, me! How cool is that?!!

What was I thinking....?


  1. Perfect tail of a horseperson's life...up, then down!!! Congrats on being the example in your lesson!!
    and, at least he lopes :)

  2. Congratulations on your Saturday ride an being made an example of...the good kind of example!

    Even though the next lesson wasn't what you wanted you still made progress. Not bad being a few feet short of your goal. I think you did really well.

    I had a horse like Gem for many years and he was impossible to keep going if he "wasn't in the mood". I did find that I never had to use a whip but if I carried it he went a lot better than his normal lazy self.

    Have fun in your next lesson.

  3. I think you just did great, especially because Gen didn't unload you with his punk move. I bet he was surprised that you stuck. What a noodle he can be!

  4. That's pretty cool :) Good for you also not losing composure while being exhibited as the good example. I would have immediately screwed something up with that many eyes on me.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the latest ride, chalk it up as a bad day and move on. I had sort of a cruddy lesson myself on Monday. Got assigned a horse that wasn't feeling well and pitched a bucking fit in the middle of a hunter course. Then got put on a giant (Gem sized), squirrelly five year old and told to jump the course again. Nearly took out a jump standard because I didn't have time to figure out his steering. Meh.

  5. Hello!

    Minus Pride - It's true! It can be really good and then really hard or crappy. Worth it though!

    GHM - Gem's attitude did change when he saw the whip. I am stiff today!

    Muddy K - I surprised myself by staying put. Gem was a bit of a noodle, wasn't he?! :-)

    Shannon - He's allowed to have an off day every once in a while. :-) Wow, your lesson sounds like it was a treat. Yikes!

  6. Yay! for being a good example. :-)

    As for the arena with Gem, he was probably just too cold that day (?) and will be better soon. He's a good horse.

  7. Hi Detroit Dog - Crazy, eh? Me, a good example! :-) He is a good horse, he's just been cooped up. I am looking forward to seeing him tomorrow!

  8. ah well, he definitely is a character, lol! I suppose horses can have cranky days too?
    My dream is to own my own brat one day, haha! so meanwhile I am happy to follow your own adventures.

  9. Hi Betty! Nice to hear from you. He's allowed to be cranky...goodness knows that I have my days! I am hoping he's a bit more receptive and playful this weekend. :-)

  10. Well done on both rides I say. Don't you love it when they are Jeykl and Hyde, makes for interesting riding! ;)

  11. The ups and downs can be pretty frustrating. The good thing is those good days will get closer and closer together. About the time that happens for me, I move on to another horse. I love the challenge of those bad days.

    It must have helped to know the trainer has problems keeping him moving too.

  12. I know a lot about keeping a slow horse moving forward, and it's my biggest struggle with Spoon. Congrats on being such a good example for the other riders!

  13. Nina - Excellent description! Jeykl and Hyde....love it!

    RR - I have to admit that there is some comfort in knowing that it takes LA some effort to keep him going. :-)

    Teaspoon - I spoke to LA yesterday, and she is going to concentrate on loping over the next few weeks and she wants me to starting loping him more outside of lesson. It's to get his head around it. Good luck with Spoon....I feel your pain! :-)

  14. Woo-hoo!! Go Wolfie!! Was a bit worried when I read the title of the post but what a fantastic example you've become! :D
    Obviously Gem didn't want it all to go to your head, hence the bratty behaviour ;o) But seriously, well done for keeping at him & not letting him 'win'.

  15. One extreme to the other, that's horses. I bet Saturday still makes you smile.

  16. Joy - You may have a point....Gem didn't want Saturday to go to my head. :-)

    Barbara - It really was one extreme to the other! Yes, I am smiling now just thinking about Saturday. :-)