Just last week, after finishing a 10 hour hauling trip for a client, I really needed (or so I thought) to school up two of my horses before a show, so around 9:30 at night I hopped on the first one. This was my first mistake as I was QUITE exhausted, grumpy after dealing with crazies on the road, and really quite ready to be home. So to say my patience with my mare wasn't where it should be is an understatement. I got easily frustrated with her lazy canter depart, which was MUCH more a result of my crummy preparation than her not listening, and I then made my second mistake of the night. I kept going and decided to school her over some fences, despite having a terrible warmup on the flat, with a serious lack of straightness. And wouldn't you know? She didn't jump very straight either.
Bad Quality Warmup Results
Much Better once I slowed down and focused more on straightness and quality.
My first blog on here was about really focusing on what you write in your horses book of training. And here I was writing a bunch of jibberish. Ugh, Bad Shannon.
About how well I felt I was riding
So at this point in my ride, I had already been on for 30 minutes of terrible riding on my behalf, (we all have those daysa), and I decided to take a deep cleansing breath, smile, and spend 5 minutes walking around working on a lovely stretchy walk. Then I picked her up, did two beautiful walk/trot/walk transitions off the rail and incredibly straight, made a HUGE deal of her, and hopped off. Was it the perfect ride I was hoping for? Absolutely not. However, at a certain point as riders we need to learn to cut our losses for the day, accomplish one very positive thing, and get off.
Our horses don't know we're having a bad day, all they can feel is your frustration and nothing is more cruel than letting them believe that it's their fault. There are days when we need to realize as much as we'd love to get on and ride off into the sunset, let it wipe away the stress of the day, that maybe it's not going to go so smoothly. Maybe our lovely mare has had a bad day too and doesn't particularly want to ride in the direction of the sun. Will you be able to laugh it off and fix the problem slowly? Or are you going to loose it and try and kick and pull her all the way down that road? Sometimes the ride will only add to our stress. Those are the days to spend 45 minutes grooming, going over every inch with a fine tooth comb, clean your tack, scrub your buckets, take your horse for a hand graze, and let simply being there at the barn take away the stress. Never get on your horse if there's a chance that you're going to pick a fight that never needed to happen.
"There are only two emotions that belong in
the saddle; one is a sense of humor and the
other is patience." - Unknown
With this in mind as well, I find so many riders that fall into a "forced" schedule. I understand the need for structure in a training program, especially for upper level type horses. But this should never be at the expense of quality. I have had riders come for a jump lesson on jump day and get bent out of shape that I never let them do more than a ground rail that day because their horse wasn't going well enough to jump. If it's your jump day, and your horse isn't going straight, relaxed and forward on the flat, you have no business pointing it down a line. Make that day a flat day, and fix the issue so the next day, you can have a quality jump school with a straight horse. I should have NEVER jumped my mare that day, but let myself get caught up the "schedule". She knows how to jump, I'm not going to train her any fancy new tricks in one day, especially not if I didn't already have her going correctly on the flat.
Ah well, she went on to win almost all of her classes at our schooling show the next day, so thankfully I didn't do TOO much damage O_o.
I'd like to do a shout out to my sponsors, County Saddlery of Illinois, Turning Point Design Custom Bonnets, Genuine Ranch Brand, ISellTack.com, and Cavalor for their continued support of my business, and my clients for continuing to believe in me and my training! Looking forward to my next show here in a couple weeks!! And as always, please check out my website for a list of Sales Horses available, or to inquire about lessons, training, or consignment.