Even so, there are days when things just don't go my way. Yesterday's ride was one of those times. It was so bad that I came home and hugged the crap out of Tobias, our 90 pound black lab. That dog is the most tolerant, long suffering animal on the planet. I sat on the floor, wrapped both arms around his considerable girth, and buried my face in his shoulder. I breathed deeply and felt much of the disappointment and frustration of the day seep slowly from my body .
It started the moment my butt touched the saddle. I did nothing but walk for the first 15 minutes in an effort to soothe him and get him thinking about me being up there. I should have quit right there, but I proceeded to work for another 30 minutes at the trot thinking going forward might dissipate some of that tension. I half halted every stride but he simply would not or could not soften his body.
When those 45 minutes yielded nothing. I took him on a hack around the neighborhood; 30 minutes later, he was still throwing a temper tantrum. By that point, I knew we had to at least try to end the day with at least one right answer, so I put him to work certain that he would finally take a deep breath and give it up. Nope.
As a last ditch effort, I tried to school a few halts. As soon as I patted his neck and said good b... - he tried to bolt, and not for the first time if the day. Holy cow. When a horse can't even stop (I gave up on a halt) after an hour and a half, it's time to hang it up.
I pulled his saddle in the arena like I usually do and watched as he cantered and trotted along the fence line. When I went to get him a few minutes later, I did some easy ground work - walking at my shoulder and then backing a few steps. I desperately needed him to feel successful about something from the day.
And if not, there might be a for sale sign taped to his butt. Horses ... sheesh!