I’m very prone to beating myself (and my horse) up all the time and having extremely high standards that I would put no one else up to. When I have a bad ride, it bugs me for days because I blame myself. When Red is less than the fancy pony I expect him to be after all of the work we’ve done, I think..man, maybe we won’t ever get to the point where I want us to be. I think that we’ve maxed out. This is the fanciest we’ll get. This is the nicest version of my horse I’m going to ride. I think to myself..it’s been three and a half years. And I get that with horses, that’s not that long, and I also realize that I was a terrible, sucky rider doing nearly everything wrong up until…well, the beginning of this year when I started working with my trainer, M. Even though I’ve had to take a break from lessons I’m still able to talk to her, send footage, ask for opinions, and she helps me out. (+ I’m planning on a lesson as soon as this heat is a bit less..terrible.) So really, Red and I have been working on things properly for less than a year. I realize that I was holding him back so of course, he’s not going to progress as quickly as he would’ve if he was with a trainer from the get-go. I’ve only just now gotten the chance to ride him a few days a week, which is a huge deal. He has to be in consistent work if I want to see great progress. Same with me. He has to be fit, I have to be fit.
I’m bad at looking at his photos and thinking..man, that looks bad, that looks bad, that looks bad. Then I look at me and think, man, my heels are awful, my leg isn’t quiet enough, my reins are too short/too long, my hands aren’t quiet..I beat both of us up.
So it is a huge deal for me to have rides like I’ve been having. It’s a huge deal for me to have someone who rode him in the beginning ride him now and be able to say, hey, this is different. To have my mother ride him and enjoy it, to hear her brag on him for the entire next day because she couldn’t believe how much better he felt. She kept saying, wow, he’s happy, he’s responsive, he felt very strong, very sure footed, very forward, very willing. She said he kept wanting to break into a canter with her and she looked at me and said, “This horse wants to canter and he wants to be a good boy, I don’t know why you’re nervous.” She said his trot felt great. He felt like a different horse to her, and when she got off, she gave me a thumbs up, said “good job” and gave Red a big pat.
That’s a big deal.
I think it’s because I ride him so often that I don’t notice the changes in him. They just happen and I’m so used to them, I don’t really notice them and say, “woah, that’s a BIG change from my last ride.” Of course, I have moments where things seem to click, and I’m impressed with him, but it’s not like I left him with a trainer for a few months then got back on and got to experience everything new right then without feeling those changes as they happened. It’s hard to see those good changes when you’re the only one riding him. When you only have photos and some awful quality videos to go off of.
I don’t feel like I’m going to die when I trot him now. I look back at old photos of us and I’m typically clutching the horn or the back of the saddle when doing more than a walk because it was so rough, it knocked me around. Now, I’m totally comfortable at the trot. Just have to get there at the canter.
My horse has changed. And it may have taken us 3 and a half years to get to a point where my biggest critique *cough cough, mother* enjoys him, but we got there. We can only get better from here, I guess.
In the long run, I’m enjoying my horse again.