Confident Rider Challenge Day 17
Welcome back to another day in the confident rider challenge! And even though I wish every day could be a good day, the reality of the situation is that won’t happen. When your horse has a bad day, it can make you have a bad day too, if you let it. And even though it isn’t easy you need to try and stay positive. The more you work with your horse, those bad days will be fewer and fewer.
Handling The Bad Days
Before you get into the saddle, you need to make sure you can check everything off your list with your horse. So far our list has been building up to this day. And even though I am chomping at the bit to get back up in the saddle, I want to be sure everything is a go before that happens.
I have been working with Ethan for the last several months really in anticipation for being given the all clear. And before I swing into the saddle, I want to make darn sure he is going to behave himself.
When I bought Ethan 3 years ago, he was a green horse with less than 50 rides on him. He did go to college, literally, and he was used as a college rodeo horse. So he had some miles on him. But due to my confidence issues, he didn’t see a lot of consistent work for that last 3 years. And just like people, horses do forget.
It’s not like he totally forgot everything that I was planning on doing with him, but it has been a long time since he has been worked with consistently. I have been working him toward the point of riding. And unfortunately, this isn’t like one of those feel good horse movies where the girl works with the horse for a few hours, and then she jumps on (bareback) and rides off into perfection. Oh how I wish the world worked like a movie. But sadly, it does not.
Ethan Had A Bad Day
So before the first ride, Ethan and I had a dress rehearsal. I groomed him and got him tacked up. We went to work in the arena. We lunged, bended and backed. And then I remembered, I had not really worked very much on desensitizing his sides. You know, where the fenders of the stirrups hang down his sides? Yeah, that.
I took him for his rest time by the mounting block, and he turned his head to the side and spooked himself. Seriously? After all that we had been working on, and the day before I’m supposed to get back in the saddle, he has a mini meltdown. It could be that I am hyper-sensitive to him, but I still saw something that was reminiscent of when I fell off a year ago.
But that gave me something to work on. And not every day can be perfect, right? So we got to work with flapping the saddle fenders by his side. And he did not like it. He skidded off sideways, tried to rip the lead rope out of my hand (he was not successful in this attempt) And I continued to work with him.
By the end of our training session he was ok. He was quiet while I moved the fenders on both sides of the saddle, and he stood still while I desensitized him to the rope, again.
And thankfully I was recording the session, so I would be able to view what it looked like when I was done. And what I saw on the video is, it really wasn’t that bad. He moved sideways, and that was it. The moments that I thought were awful, really weren’t that bad.
That made me think about how I perceive things with my horses. With Frisby, if something like that happens, it’s no big deal. But when that happens with Ethan, I get very concerned. I don’t know why, but I do. Which means I need to work through this, before I ride Ethan. So today I will be working with him on the ground and continue to desensitize him to the saddle. I may even put on my synthetic English saddle and see how he acts. I will lunge the excitement out of him until he is ready to stand still quietly regardless of what I am doing to him.
And it has given me a new challenge to throw everything I possible can at him to try and scare him. And only when he stands still at everything will I climb into the saddle.
So Ethan will be getting a lot of work over the next week. He will be tired every day, until I feel he is quiet enough to be ridden. I would much rather see little blow ups from the ground, and deal with them that way than from being up in the saddle.
But I will still be riding. Frisby will get his work in now too. Which will add a little more to my plate, working two horses, but it will be worth it in the end.
Always Find The Positive
I think the one takeaway I want to share is that we all have bad days. And sometimes, things don’t go the way we plan. A crap happens, but don’t dwell on it. And don’t get discouraged when your training has a setback. Two steps forward, one step backward. That is just how life is.
And even though I didn’t climb into the saddle with Ethan today as I had planned, it’s ok. I can still ride Frisby, and work on my seat, legs, and hands. Which will help me to regain my balance, and some of the skill I have lost from not riding for the last 3 months. And I will be able to get back on Ethan, even if it takes a little longer than I have planned.
So for today’s challenge, I want you to work on something that your horse does well. Reinforce the good. If he is fantastic at walking down the trail, go for a walk. If he is good for a bath, give him a bath. Do something that your horse enjoys. And make the entire working session a positive one. Remember, it’s better to take a step back and do something well to help build your confidence as you move forward. Yes, there will be bad days. But as you continue your work, the bad days will be less and less and replaced with more good days than bad.
Leave a Reply