Why Not to Give Up

Oh, Tuesday. I had Rebel, we were outside, there was a massive puddle between E and C, and he had decided that it had my name on it.

He was spooking at a teeny tiny one between C and M, and in open order, I kept going back over it, to get him to look at it, ‘It’s just a teeny tiny puddle, dude!’ … with no great success.

He was fighting me for the bit, and when it came to the jumps, I kept him in trot, because we were coming from the A end, and I knew he’d do that dropping-the-shoulder-thing to get me off, and wet.

We managed, although it was a battle after every recovery to get him back on track, to get him back into trot, to get him away from that damned puddle. I lost my balance a fair few times, he refused a fence a split second after I realised he was going to do so [and off I came, but it was dry under the crosspoles] and the whole lesson was a war, but nobody else but me noticed. Well, apart from the falling. [I haven’t fallen in ages, and this was a good one, flying right over his head; I still had the reins in my left hand when I landed.]

The turns after the landings were controlled entirely by him, and down went that shoulder, but I did the belly button thing, as scary as it was at the time, and I felt him have to get control of his balance. So score one for me.

I was determined to have him again on Thursday. He’s always better on his own [mostly] and my stubbornness was back.

I had a different instructor that morning. This was not too bad, as I had gone to bed early the night before, feeling poorly. Bolstered with Lucozade, I knew I’d make it through the forty minute hour, and sweat out some of the-whatever-it-was that I’d picked up; as the teacher had never had me before, it was easier to say that I was a little under the weather and didn’t feel like jumping.

I mentioned, apropos of some query or other, that I’d never managed to get him to let his head down enough to collect properly over the bit.

I don’t know how it happened, but that day, he did.

Maybe I do know? It’s may seem an odd line of reasoning, but not feeling 100% may have had something to do with it. I have realised, in the last few weeks, that I ride Reb differently than I ride Amigo or Maurice. On them, because I have seen the effect of it, I immediately have my leg on. I know that with the former [Amigo], he will listen, and with the latter [Maurice], he won’t if I don’t. I have realised that I do not assert myself with Rebel. I allow him to set the tone whilst I’m taking his temperature. In short, he takes the piss out of me because I allow it.

So, feeling somewhat wifty in the head caused me to do the thing that I ought to be doing: I put my leg on right from the start, because I couldn’t count on my brain keeping me in the saddle.

Cue the sun breaking through the clouds, accompanied by a heavenly chorus.

We gave him a good while to stretch out, wake up, and we built the trot up to a lovely, brisk, working one. He gave me some grief, but I didn’t let him away with it — not by rapping him on the arse, but by keeping my arse in and my legs on. I had an excellent contact without holding the reins too tightly [because my LEG WAS ON] and there! There it went! Neck stretched out, head collected — wow!

Now, I wanted to jump!

They weren’t huge, but they weren’t nominal either, and over he went, time after time, beautiful brisk trot towards the fence, not losing pace in the turn, and over, and over, and over — at least sixteen times. I only fell behind him once, because he didn’t like his footwork and compensated at the last possible moment. I was jumping better than I have since Ruby turfed me into the arena door: not thinking, letting him do the work, my hands floating, recovering my seat, a few steps of canter, then flawlessly back down into trot.

Magic! One of those days when I would have gladly jumped forever. We weren’t at war, he listening because I was saying something worth listening to, and there were moments when I did the belly button thing, and I could feel us floating, I could feel him tracking up perfectly underneath me.

This is another good post to read after a bad lesson — particularly one that involve Himself. I want to be able to do this with him all the time — okay, as much as he’ll allow. He’s still Rebel. My instructor and I both wished, at least three times, that she’d had a camera to get some of this recorded. It would be good to see. It would be great to prove that it’s possible to ride this horse without frustration. I know now that it can be done. I know now that there’s a reason to not give up — on him, and on myself.

5 Replies to “Why Not to Give Up”

      1. thanks! wow, I didn’t know you were still doing this blog so I am happy and surprised! love the blog…..addicted actually, I am sure you will tire of seeing my name stalking your comments page : ). I actually just read a good post about the bellybutton thing in one of your bitless riding post…may I say I love that idea and am so intrigued. Sadly, I now live in Slovakia and am unable to find an english speaking natural horsemanship person….it will have to wait for the future!

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