Friday, November 15, 2013
I must note that this is my first 'young' horse. I'd always preferred older, been-there-done-that horses, thinking the younger ones were all balls of fire. However, I've found my young horse to be refreshing. His young age gives him a clean slate. He's had minimal negative experiences; i.e., baggage that my older horses have brought along with them. This youngster is still learning about "life" and I feel it's my job to do my best to keep his experiences positive so we keep the baggage at a minimum.
With all signs pointing to "go", Elvis and I headed to the indoor arena. I know myself - if I don't ride for long periods of time my confidence level drops like a hard freeze. As we walked I overwrote my worries by telling myself I have never had a bad ride on Elvis and that I had done a good job of knowing what I was about to ride. I reminded myself how great I feel when I'm up on him and with that I tightened the cinch one last time and hopped on.
Elvis stood quietly, waiting for my cue. In the past he has started walking off while I was getting on. I've been making him stand quietly for few moments after I get on, reminding him to not move off until I give the command. On this day I took my time, settling in the saddle and getting comfortable. Then with the pressure of my lower legs I asked him to walk off.
....Nothing. We still stood quietly. I gave him the cue again to move forward.
....Nothing. I do have spurs on my boots; however, I try to not use them as a first request. I now engaged my spurs, small rubs on his sides, and behold - ever so slowly, we walked off.
We were pointed towards the other end of the arena to get out of the way of a lesson being held on the end where I'd gotten on. At our destination were various riders exercising their horses. We would join in and do the same.
Now I know that the Western Pleasure walk is slow but at the speed we were going I could have gotten to a different State quicker. I cued Elvis to pick up the speed a bit and get out of the lesson zone - first with my legs and then with my spurs.
...Nothing. I cued again, this time with spurs and got a tiny bit of additional speed. We might make it to the other end of the arena before nightfall.
We entered into the crowded group and walked a couple of circles and then as others started to jog/trot, I also asked for the jog. Bet you can guess the response...yup, nothing.
With my feet paddling against his sides (tipping the front of my foot down to engage my spurs on his side) I finally got the slightest jog, almost a walk. We gently jogged around - but I had to keep paddling with my feet or else we broke back into the slowest walk in history.
This lack of response was making us a target amongst our fellow riders, who had to get around us as we stalled out. We'd never had such a slog of a ride and with a sinking heart I knew that Elvis was running this ride and totally ignoring his leader.
Elvis was being so nice that he was being naughty. I needed to address this issue, to remind him that I was the leader and when I said trot, lope, etc., I meant it. This called for a "come to dinner meeting" and I knew that might incur some rodeo activities for dessert. In the crowded arena full or riders there was no space for me to have this "discussion".
Instead of allowing him to dictate any further, I decided to end the ride until I could address the issue (I expect to arise again). It was good timing on my part as a bunch of riders came in for a group jumping lesson. My fellow riders were also calling it a day vs being in the way of the jumpers.
Walking back to the barn Elvis was his nice, sweet self. It entered my mind that if this is what I get when I let my horse sit that this is ok. I like that Elvis appears to be one of those horses you can pull out of the pasture and hop right on - sure, it may take you days to get to your destination but at least he isn't a ball of raging fire or argumentative. He's just so nice that he's naughty.
Elvis and I have a date for a "come to dinner meeting" next time this happens. And I'm betting that will be at my upcoming lesson. Fine with me. I'd prefer it to be in the presence of my Frainer so that I use the right tools and actions to get "my point across" should I need to use them in the future, which I'm thinking I will.
Nice...but naughty. We'll fix that to Nice!