Some may have noticed I have been pretty quiet in the blog world lately. This absence has been a time of reflection for me. You see, on Tuesday I loaded up Yellow and we drove about an hour to see The Cowboy. I had arranged to get a lesson from him because, while Yellow has been doing pretty well, I felt like his hip was locked up a little and wanted to get some help.
We pulled in at 10:00 a.m., right on time. The Cowboy gets VERY irritated when I'm late. He unloaded Yellow and tied him up at a hitching post. He ran over him with a curry comb quickly and commented on how Yellow has put on a good amount of weight and looks real good. I actually think Yellow is a TAD heavy right now...he blew through a 1,000 lb bale in a little over 2 weeks, and has a small pot-belly. I think it's sympathy weight.
I thought he was going to groundwork Yellow and would see the work I'd put into keeping him alert and focused while "sending" him. No groundwork. The Cowboy just mounted right up and went to work. First he disengaged Yellow's hind end, which he said worked fine. Then he went to move the shoulder and something got jammed up. Yellow would rather sit on his butt and jump around on his haunches than step through his turn. The Cowboy was not impressed. He went to work fixing this problem, which required a few "motivators" to get him moving forward instead of stepping back. This irritated Yellow, who would then put his head down and jump around and get pretty light on his front end and do just about everything he could to get out of having to USE his front end.
While this is occurring, the Cowboy is cursing at the horse for trying to fight with him, and yelling at me that I've spoiled him and have him all jammed up for a number of reasons. I don't have him in the poll, and without that I can't do anything. Then I've been backing him into turns and he bangs into himself and that makes him not want to turn. After the first mini-rodeo, the Cowboy tried out Yellow's lateral flexion, something that I work on EVERY time I get on. I know he's soft. Well, the Cowboy told me Yellow isn't soft because I've been letting him twist his head and just bring his nose around instead of keeping his face vertical and making him give at the poll and the neck. So Yellow put up another big fight...backing into the fence, jumping around, and pretty much doing everything he could think of, besides buck and rear. I think even Yellow knew either of those actions was going to result in something really, really bad for him.
The Cowboy is not one to back down from a fight. When Yellow gets defiant, he would get a quick over-under and a spur. The Cowboy has a good seat and wasn't going anywhere. I could see Yellow's eyes rolling back in his head, his mouth gaping, and a total expression that said, "Listen lady...I don't know what you were thinking bringing me here, but was I really so out-of-line that I deserved THIS?!?"
Once the fighting was over and Yellow went through his paces with ease, the Cowboy dismounted. I asked if I could ride a bit to get a feel for what I needed to be doing instead of what I was doing. He said sure, but that I needed to walk him around a bit to make sure his new mindset was gonna stick.
So at this point, I've seen my horse be re-programmed, and kind of fight his way through it. And through out the whole process, I've been told what I've done to cause all this. Now, it's my turn to get re-programmed. But do you think the Cowboy is going to lecture Yellow on how he's trained me to let him get away with stuff? Hell no.
My hand position wasn't right, I wasn't pulling back in the correct position, I wasn't releasing fast enough, and at one point, the Cowboy told me I wasn't listening. Well, I was listening, but my mind doesn't translate to my body that quickly!
After about 15 minutes, the Cowboy thought I had it down okay. He told me I need to get the baby business done and then bring Yellow back for a month, and I need to come twice and week and ride. At the end of 30 days, I'll have a finished horse and I won't have to worry about messing any of his basic cues up. I think the Cowboy likes my horse (actually, I know he does) and wants to ride him for a month.
Everything ended on a good note. Yellow sometimes has issues getting in the trailer...not that day! I've never seen that horse more willing to jump into the safety of his horse trailer! On the way home I called one of my favorite cousins and attempted to find humor in the situation. I've had Yellow for almost a year now, and I suppose I could have ruined a lot more than just his front end!
The next day the Cowboy called me to see when we purchased our Oklahoma horse from him, and I told him February, and then he launched into an apology for being a little hard on me the day before, and said he just really wanted to get his point across. I think maybe his girlfriend, who was there the whole time, layed into him that night. I told my mom that had any of our horsey cousins been in my shoes, they probably would have cried. Or been pissed. But I know he's right. Everything that came out of his mouth made perfect sense, so I couldn't really get too upset. But sometimes, delivery is everything!
I told the Cowboy I knew he was right, and that I'm just a little sensitive with all the hormones. He really felt bad when I said that because he knows I can't ride as much as I'd like to, and that my poor pregnant mind can be a little unfocused.
But let me tell you, there is nothing like a day like that to knock your confidence and peg and make you think twice about jumping on your horse and doing whatever you feel like! I haven't had time to ride since we got back, but hopefully my horse will still be talking to me the next time I jump on his back. After all, if he won't, I can just threaten to take him back to the Cowboy.
Section 32 Open Space Ride
2 weeks ago