I went out late last night to ride Indy. It was just below 80° with a light breeze when I left for the barn and I figured that it would be a quiet and relaxing time to ride (plus, it was either ride then or not at all). It was an off night for the kiddie lessons and the loudest screaming riding instructor in the world. Yep, it was going to be perfect.
When I pulled up there were cars at the riding school (kiddie lesson) barn. Crap. Whatever. The vocals from the trainer and hyper children are good exposure for Indy.
I get out of the truck and realize that the wind has picked up. A lot. Eh, wind usually doesn't bother her too much.
As I turn Indy out (I like putting her out for about a half hour before I ride her), she is blowing and snorting. When I turn her loose, she takes off tearing around the paddock. No big deal. At least she's getting it out of her system, she'll settle in a bit.
Bringing Indy in, she is still blowing and snorting with her tail straight in the air as she prances next to me. That's fine, the Thermotex blanket usually relaxes her. She'll chill out when I put it on.
|She was probably just really looking forward to getting a bath. Because you can see here how much she loves them...|
The blanket is pulled off and Indy continues randomly snorting at things. We've spent most of the time the blanket is on helping her remember that she is supposed to stand politely in the cross ties (I don't tolerate my horses wallowing around in them). As I tack her up, I start to think that this could be a VERY
|On a happy blanket day.|
On the way to the mounting block Indy continues with the snorts. She might not kill me.
I lead her to the mounting block and climb on prepared for her to feel like she's going to blow. I sit in the saddle and....
She drops her head, waits for me to ask her to walk off, and then proceeds with a nice forward and relaxed walk on a loose rein to the arena. Okay, now I'm just confused.
The second I got on, she was all like "Oh, hey human! Where you been? Nice of you to show up. Can we get to work now?"
Um, sure Indy....
We proceeded to have a really nice ride as the kids acted like kids do, the trainer yelled, and the wind blew (creating strange, moving shadows in the dark beyond the lighted arena). My horse was good through all of it. MY HORSE! The one that (literally) will sometimes spook at her own shadow. She lost focus for a couple of seconds here and there, but other than that I couldn't have hoped for better.
This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, at least not with most horses. Indy is another story.
Not long ago, I would have seen the kid lessons and been pretty convinced that the ride would have sucked. The yelling trainer would have helped prove me right. Add the wind and I would have assumed that the ride would be completely hopeless.
Not long ago, if she'd acted like that going to the mounting block, I would have been wishing that I had my vest (that I wear on the rare occasions that I gallop at the track) on. I would have been wishing this because I would have known that there was absolutely no chance of getting her brain focused.
Not long ago, riding on a night like this would have been Hell.
So, I'm proud of my horse. Indy had lots of excuses to act like an idiot and she didn't. She was just as focused (as Indy gets at her maturity level) with all of that as she is when everything is quiet. When it came to her job, she got right down to business. Dare I say it? Could it be possible that Indy is starting to show signs of professionalism?
|She's come a long way since this was taken.|
I know that there will still be bad rides ahead of us. She will have those days where she will answer the questions I ask of her with her way of telling me to piss off. That's okay. They're happening less often.
I've pushed myself to be patient, to try not to get frustrated, to just keep trying in general. I've done my best to push, but not force (it wouldn't work anyway), and to make it very clear when she gives the correct response. Sometimes it gets the results I want, sometimes it doesn't.
|My other "birthday present", but that's a long story that needs to be told another day...|
Indy is beginning to work with me instead of fighting me the whole way. We're FINALLY starting to build that relationship that it takes to be successful in dressage. I've certainly made mistakes along the way, yet learned from them. There is a long ways to go still, but the foundation is becoming sturdier every ride. Brick by damn brick.
Has anyone else's most talented horse also been the most difficult?
*I figured I should mention that Indy's "bad" isn't that bad. It's usually more of a hard-headed "I don't want to" or "I'm going to look for every excuse I can to lose focus and ignore you" type of thing. She's never done anything more than a crow hope and has only had a few major spooks. The difference between when she really spooks and when she is looking for an excuse to spook us pretty obvious. 90% if the time she isn't truly scared if something. Her bad behavior is rarely something that could get me hurt. There were/are times when she feels like a volcano ready to erupt, but she hasn't ever blown. The things that were a little dangerous were just typical young horse stuff. The misbehaving that I talk about are mental blocks that keep us from progressing as much as I'd like to and take her longer than most horses to get past. Hence, the patience she has