I tend to get pretty down on our progress, or lack thereof, with Izzy. I have so much Sydney-baggage on my shoulders that it's a miracle that poor Izzy can even walk forward. It's got to weigh like a million pounds.
When I hear myself sounding like a Negative Nancy, I try to pipe in some KG elevator music which sounds a lot like this: He's 7 years old with less 6 TOTAL months of training. What do you expect? He can walk, trot, and canter, and he's getting better every single day. Take that and run with it. She's right of course, but this is certainly not an easy journey.
When I showed up to ride on Saturday, my plans got smashed to holy heck. The neighbors were setting up for their annual August birthday party. The one with balloons lining their driveway and a HUMONGOUS blow up water slide - the ones that are like 20 feet tall and spookier than a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex. Okay, so there is no picture of that, but it was real - I promise, but there is a photo of some of the balloons.
When I found myself starting to grumble and gripe about the noise, I pulled the brake on that freight train and decided to embrace the chaos. How will Izzy ever learn to deal with distractions if there are never any distractions?
The truth is that he wasn't actually freaked out by any of the party preparations. Instead, he was tense about the energy that was created by the pre-party activity. I walked him over to the fence expecting him to stare at the massive and brightly colored water slide ... he wouldn't even look at it. I walked him over to the fluttering balloons, but he simply nibbled the grass beneath them. He looked at them, but only to see if they were edible or fun.
For a few weeks, our rides started out super mellow and quiet and then slowly built to tension accompanied by trying to run through my aids. We're past the easing into the tension stage. Izzy has figured out that the arena does not mean trail rides; instead, it means he has to listen and work. He's decided that he's not a fan of work.
So now, our rides start with him trying to wiggle out of any connection. That's really just a nice way of saying he throws himself a little hissy-fit which includes squealing, fish tailing, jerking his head, bolting (he doesn't get more than a few steps - usually), and sucking back. Saturday was no exception.
All of that lasted about ten minutes. He eventually figured out that I was still there. We worked on trotting with a rhythm and moving out onto the outside rein. We then worked on getting the correct canter lead. Can I just pat myself on the back for a moment? The canter departures are quite ugly at this point, but by God, we're getting the correct lead, and once he is cantering, it's a lot of fun.
We then moved on to some suppling exercises to encourage him to let go of that right rein. Chemaine showed me an exercise with Speedy where you start on the counter bend and reward a softening by allowing the horse back on the true bend.
In all, I schooled him about 50 minutes, which is much longer than I ever work Speedy. The last 20 minutes were spent mostly walking as we worked on halts that didn't involve any resemblance to a giraffe. Since he still had energy to burn, and the morning hadn't yet reached 90 degrees, I decided to hack him around the neighborhood.
The next time I moan and groan about how he's not making any progress, remind me of this post.
We rode around the neighborhood by ourselves for the first time a week or two ago. He was pretty good, but there was a fair amount of tension and balking in a few places. For this outing, he was fussy in one spot, but that resolved itself within a minute. He did spook a bit as we passed by the Haner Family Farm, but the pigs sort of freaked me out too, so I didn't blame Izzy for that lapse in bravery. Fat pigs are loud and kind of ferocious when they're ... pigging.
I am pretty much an idiot for feeling like we're not making any progress. Progress IS being made; I am just a little slow to recognize it.