I made the hubs go with me to be my photographer and general helper. Poor hubs.
D and I had gone to a fancy dinner the night before, which didn't get us home and in bed until late. He had to get up early to round, so I did various tasks and made pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls from a can. Me and my refined palate. Finally, it was time to go to the barn and get ponykins ready for his adventure.
|Patient pony with noms.|
|Away we go!|
We caravanned to TE's barn about an hour away. About fifteen minutes out, I took my magical pharmaceutical assistant. Why spend all that time, money and effort just to have my issues ruin it? Unloaded, unwrapped, and had about fifteen minutes to tack him up and get warmed up. This no-time-to-think process has worked the best for my antsy screamer.
|My Xanax hadn't kicked in.|
At my start time, I meandered my way into the dressage ring. TE, another trainer, and Koby were hanging out outside and Koby asked where we were. I proudly announced that we had successfully competed at ameoba twice, and then I started to list all the shit we sucked at: contact, forward, bend, transitions, motorbiking turns, etc, etc, etc. You know, everything. I told her that I had a trainer once upon a time, but that I hadn't had one in a while. Oh, and that my guy was a special old man.
She had me walk him in circles to start and immediately chirped in, "MORE. KICK. KICK AGAIN. AGAIN. MORE." You know, not yelling. But.. I think laziness is contagious and Archie and I keep reinfecting each other. It was immediately apparent that Archie was behind my leg, even dead to my leg. Also, when I try to get him off my left leg, he'll either comply for a second or puff out against my leg even more.
Another thing I was oblivious about, which I guess is the result of having somewhat light hands and having primarily ridden the same horse for so long, is that Archie is super light in the bridle. She talked about the importance of giving with the motion in the shoulders, rather than the fingers as I tend to do, and how I can apply barely a pound of pressure but then everything needs to be in increments of ounces. Like, she seriously said, "Okay, now apply two more ounces on that inside rein."
Koby stated that her process is to start with the inside rein. She reiterated something that she said on Saturday at the demo, that she knows "inside leg to outside rein" is drilled into us, but that we can't get contact with the outside rein until we've gotten contact with the inside rein. So the first half hour or so was spent getting and maintaining contact on the inside rein, keeping him moving forward, and getting him off my inside leg. I wasn't making huge progress and at one point she came over, grabbed the left rein and my crop and started taping his barrel. Dude has mastered evasion.
Yes, I let someone else ride my pony. Mark this in your calendar, folks. It wasn't my husband (but it was a Grand Prix rider who appreciated my fellow's quirks). Afterwards, she and I even joked about how she doesn't let other people ride her horses, either.
The entire ride was captured on video by my dear hubs. Ignore the first part, where TE offers me a beer. I drank it in about .03 seconds. Be forwarned, it's like 15 minutes long.
When I got back on. Guys. I swear to all the fucking gods of all worlds, universes, whatever. It was like I was on a different horse.
He was responsive. He was carrying himself. He maintained contact. He floated into the bridle. He tried to evade once in a turn and did exactly what he'd done with Koby (which you might be able to hear her say): buck/kick, grunt, and finally comply. She had me leg yield through the turns and with every step, Archie listened and only improved. I asked Koby if I could keep her.
Things I took from this:
- While I'm prolly still not going to let people breathe too closely to Archie, if the opportunity for a professional to ride him becomes available again (and it's someone I like), it's beneficial all around.
- I don't push Archie enough. Ever. With anything.
- Acknowledging that I created my beast does nothing to correct the beast. It's all fun and games until he starts bucking.
- I need to expect immediate responses, no dallying. Ask nicely, then not. And I drive too much with my seat because he's so damn lazy.
- I need to follow better with my hands to reward him for giving to the contact.
- Per her, any horse can train third level. There's no reason Archie can't do more.