Seriously. Those were the distractions we faced during last nights' ride. *sheesh*
But we've lived to tell the tale! Neighbor Bob was on his tractor mowing, moving logs, cutting those logs into firewood, and providing plenty of nervous distractions for me. Eagle was good with all of that. Mostly. Me? I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. Oh, and I forgot the goats. Eagle nor I were too concerned about them. They're always coming through our fence and cruising wherever they want to go, whenever they want. All good stuff right? Well, tell my poor old heart that, will ya? My back is actually a little stiff from tensing up so much. Oh, and it was our first time riding in the big, outside corral. Shouldn't have made a difference, but remember we're dealing with my head here.
The distractions that did prove to concern Eagle were the "monster" that lives in the brushy area near the apple tree in one corner of the corral; and Charlotte, who was barking continuously at the injustice of having to stay in the yard while we had our lesson. Occasionally, she'd come up to the fence line and bark, making herself invisible in the tall grass. That proved to be Eagle's un-doing. He spooked, rather shied really, a couple of times. One time he did the stop and drop deal. Neither was a big deal, both were good lessons for me, but still. Let's just say, a relaxed ride it was not.
Jessica praised my efforts, told me I'd done well, but I know better. I so wanted to quit. I was tired. I was not having fun. But I hung in there. Bless Eagle's heart, he was doing his best to take care of me. I know he was. Jessica said as much to me as well, so I know it's the case. But, he made me work for every little movement the whole time. Good grief! We had no rhythm, no cadence at all - even at the walk. Eagle was so tentative in his movements, just wanted to stop, which meant I had to work for every little bit of forward movement the entire time. He stops just fine. No doubt his favorite thing. I really had to struggle to keep him straight between my reins. Who am I kidding? We had no straightness!
The previous nights' ride in the round pen had been my best to date. I thought so anyway. I was totally relaxed, had some confidence too. Eagle was working fairly well for me. Still makes me work for forward, tries to root his nose down, but it was a pretty good ride. I guess they were both good rides though, I prevailed and ended on good notes both times.
An issue that seems to come up fairly often is while travelling to the left, he likes to get strong and go to the inside. All the time. I really have to use a lot of inside leg and outside rein to try and keep him on the rail. After a while my arm gets tired and I just try to use leg and ask for more forward to keep him moving. Jessica would like to switch bits, I'm not certain at all that's the answer. I just don't really know what the solution is. Keep at it I guess. Seat deep, heels down, eyes where I want to go. Breathe.
I'm already questioning my instructor's approach. Not good. Certainly not everything, just some. The problem is, I've learned my methods from the best of the best. Now to me, that's not a problem, it's the best way to approach horsemanship. The problem is, most trainers/instructors don't necessarily follow how I've learned. In part they do, but in part they don't. Presents a challenge. In my head, I know the answer is not a different bit, or any kind of gadget. It just never works in the end. Truly, the best way is to work with the horse's mind to control the life in the body, through the feet. Simple enough right? However, it's more difficult in practicality. The approach is everything. I run short on how to, really quickly. I'm not getting discouraged. Not really. I just want to stay true to what I know is right, and find the best way to get Eagle to stay soft, and continue to get softer through his body, but liven up his feet and lighten up his body. He feels heavy. He feels strong. Just don't know how else to describe it. He is soon to be 16 years old, and was in reality, started at 15. He's not had anything done right, for most of his life. Truthfully, he's been treated unfairly, unkindly, was starved, neglected and mistreated. My promise to him was this. No more pain. Ever. Nothing that is unfair. I just will not treat him in any way, but respectfully. How do I accomplish this when I need help from someone for me? For my confidence? Nothing's ever simple is it?
I've ridden 5 times since my last lesson. I have a little over a week to make some change for the better before our next session with Jessica. I'm certain of only one thing. The problem lies within me, not with my horse. With time and consistency, Eagle will improve and learn. He's super smart and willing, if he's got a good rider aboard, the odds are stacked in his favor. I just don't want to compromise the standards for my horse, for my sake.
I need to put my big girl panties on.
In between rides, I guess it can't hurt to brush up on a little reading. It's supposed to start raining tomorrow, that will likely cut into my riding time, but as I keep trying to remind myself - there is no time clock here. I just need to keep at it. Like that tiny trickle of water that over time will carve a crevice through the rock...
be like the water.