Fortunately, my husband is used to these tirades. His response is always, well, you didn't like (insert horse's name here) for a long time, and look how he/she turned out. Give this one at least a year. He's usually right, but I never believe him at the time.
I've been riding Izzy six days a week for most of the summer. He gets ridden twice a day on four of those days, trail ridden twice a week, and he gets a seventh day off. It's actually for me, but whatever. He should be getting tired, but he's not. He's just getting fitter.
One positive is that even after cutting out a lot of alfalfa, he's holding his weight really well even with all of the riding. See for yourself:
Best friends are worth their weight in gold. Who else will listen to you complain about how little progress your green bean is making every single time you get together? No one, that's who. But KG does. She listens and then offers advice or at least encouraging words.
Her response this time was to ask me a series of questions.
KG: When did you first "try" to ride him?
KG: You couldn't ride him. He wasn't rideable, and you jumped off.
Me: Yeah, I know (where's she going with this?)
KG: When did you really start riding him?
Me: Late April/May, but we did a lot of walking. Then I went on vacation for two weeks at the end of May through the middle of June.
KG: That means he's had maybe 90 days of work.
Me: Or less, really.
KG: So, in 90 days, you are now trailering him by himself, tying him to the trailer where he eats, drinks, and behaves, and trail riding calmly in the lead. So what's the issue? Your 90 days (barely) under saddle horse is naughty in the arena? Of course he is! He's had less than three months of riding!!!! (Is she stupid?)
Me: D'oh! (and yeah, I must be stupid!)
Best friends are really worth their weight in platinum.
- I got there first and unloaded him so he could stand around by himself for a few minutes. He did ... nothing. Well, he looked around, but there was no pacing, calling, or whirling. Just an interest in what was going on.
- While we were saddling, an endurance friend pulled up with his dog. We visited for close to half an hour, and even though Izzy was half-way tacked up, he just stood there relaxing.
- While he started out jigging and excited, it was nowhere to the degree of the last last trail ride, and within less than ten minutes he was pretty happy.
- We took some new section of trail that had a lot of horse-eating monsters, but Izzy kept moving forward.
- We added some scary single track trail, and Izzy handled it like a pro. Some of the trail had a complete canopy of low trees so it was shadowy and very close, but it was no big deal. Other parts of the trail had bushes and plants that were as tall as the horses, but again, no big deal.
- Izzy peed on the trail! This is a huge deal. Quite often, nervous horses will not pee on the trail, and in fact will hold it long enough to make themselves almost sick. This can be a problem with inexperienced endurance horses. Izzy hit a sandy spot and stopped, which I recognized as a need to go stop. KG and I both praised him enthusiastically until he eventually took the stance and let it go. KG immediately whipped out a horse cookie. He adores her (she doles out a lot of cookies from the saddle) and puts his face in her lap when he's nervous!
- When we got back to the trailers, he immediately took a long drink and then grabbed a mouthful of hay. He also started nosing around looking for his handful of rice bran. I am slowly teaching him that he gets fed at the trailer which goes a long way toward teaching them to like being at the trailer. Next time he'll get a small bucket of rice bran.
- When KG loaded Taz, Izzy only gave a small pouty whinny, and then he hopped right into his own trailer and stood patiently while KG and I talked about Thursday's trip down to lesson with Chemaine - no trail ride tomorrow.
It was definitely a successful ride. And we've only done this four times! Hitting the trail is proving to be far more instructional for Izzy than the arena work, but I am hoping the success from the one will start to carry over to the other.
Happy trails and thank goodness for Steady Eddies!