As many of you know this is the first time I'm bringing along a young horse from the start. Obviously with the help of a trainer and professionals, but this is my first in-depth experience at young horse training. I've shared a lot of the successes I've had with Zellie, but I've gotten quite a few comments about sharing more of the journey. So, here's another installment on that journey. This time titled, "Expectations & Frustrations."
a little back story
After our last show at Loudoun, we decided to incorporate a weekly pro ride and break up my lessons into two a week where we'll focus on jumping in one and flatting in the other. Zellie has been "easy" and I like to say that she came "pre-installed" with a lot of features. For example, we really didn't have to TEACH the lead change, it comes quite natural to her. Her brakes are phenomenal and she mostly understands moving off the leg. An amateur's dream.
Now, with all that being said, Zellie is SMART. Because she's so smart and she came with some features "pre-installed" I expect a lot from her despite her age. Every ride, no matter if it's a jumping or flat lesson, or just a hack day, I start out with a nice walk warm up and incorporate some lateral work; moving left, moving right, etc. Typically there are no issues so I KNOW SHE KNOWS those aids. Some days it takes some time for her to abide, but there is rarely any disobedience at the walk.
I came across this quote from dressage rider Thomas Ritter and it really hit home after a hard flat lesson on Thursday before my trainer left with some horses to show in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The lesson was hard for both of us. Like I said, at the walk Zellie will move willingly off my leg in both directions. At the trot it gets dicey. We were working on circles and bending. During a circle to the left, I'd put my left leg on and she'd lean against me. I'd add outside (right) leg behind the girth to keep the circle and she'd go left. I get it. She's left handed. But why is it so much different at the trot from the walk?! Not to mention that any forward movement of my body in the saddle will make her suck back behind my leg then everything falls apart even more. I get super frustrated because I KNOW SHE KNOWS.
To mitigate things, we worked on sitting trot a few steps to help collect her and get her to focus on her body more. It was hard for me because her trot has so much suspension that right now I don't feel super efficient sitting it for too long. *note: it's on the list of things to work on for me*
We definitely butt heads some times. She's a chestnut mare – enough said – and I'm a stubborn Taurus. Frustrations abound on both sides. While I know she knows, I have to work on being more clear and concise. I need to praise her when she does things correctly. I need to correct more accurately. I have to work on keeping my body back, leg on, reins steady and contact solid.
The list for me could go on and on, but Zellie also needs to develop a work ethic. The way we started her under saddle was slow and positive. Rides where short and doing something properly once was praised and rewarded with being done. I'm not at all upset at that as I believe it's best for the young ones. However, with Zellie's smarts and wit, she's learned that was one and done. Not any more baby girl, time to be a big kid! *yes, there are exceptions.
I know not everything will go smoothly and that there will be issues and setbacks. That's horses. With as many frustrations as I have sometimes, we always end our rides on a good note. I have to shake off whatever dissatisfaction I have and give a positive ride.