Last week I managed to fit in two lessons – a dressage lesson on Thursday and a jump lesson Saturday. It was Archie’s first ‘real’ dressage/flat lesson since the week he arrived (he’s been here two whole months this week!) and by the time it was over, he was pretty sure this eventing thing is dumb and hard and stupid.
Sorry dude. You wanna do the fun jompies, you gotta do the hard dressaging. He was actually really good once we got going – he definitely knows things, even if he pretends not to (ahem, shouder-in). We worked a lot on my elbows (….forever will be) and keeping him responsive and tuned in. Lots of reminders he has to travel straight, go forward and pay attention. The walk and trot really aren’t bad at all and I think will come out of winter show-ready. The canter is a little harder; he protests that going forward is SO HARD OMG by sucking back so hard you have literally nothing underneath you. He rides better in a half-seat, but it’s like sitting is totally foreign to him. Which, I would forgive and understand coming from a hunter barn, if I didn’t know that his first seven years were as a western horse. You know this dude. Until the forward is fully established in the canter, we can’t do a whole lot with it, so we’ll just be reinforcing that lesson for a while.
He was one sweaty pony after our lesson and slept hard that night I’m told.
Our jump lesson on Saturday was another working with the jumps super small and focusing on being relaxed and happy around the whole ring. He really is getting the hang of things and looked downright happy to jump around! Progress. We did a few small courses that had some technicality to them, but at jump heights where everything was no big deal. Lots of repetition over things we know we can do without a problem, building the confidence and trust bank, so when it comes time for me to ask him to do something he’s less sure of, he knows I won’t ask him anything he can’t do successfully. He still lays his ears back over fences, so we may play with him in a bonnet to see if it’s the feeling of air/wind he dislikes (or if he just thinks he’s being more aerodynamic…)
I’m so happy with how he’s coming along. He hasn’t been the easiest horse to get along with or start off, largely in part because I really just wanted Iggy back. But time heals so much and he’s starting to heal that hole a little bit each ride. I know in two months, I’m already a much stronger rider mentally, in terms of how I think through my decisions and react.
Now if we could convince him to stop standing in the rain all day so when he comes in he isn’t soaking wet…