Not one of my stronger qualities.
Joe is on spell for the next couple of months, so Savannah is back into boot camp. She’s a sweet mare 9when she’s not bucking me off going into canter…) who LOVES getting out on the trails, will pop over little logs in the bush without fuss, and is learning not to be TOO bored by arena work (we mix it up with trotting poles and little cross rails and we onnly work in there a couple of times a week). She’ll never be a dressage queen, but that’s OK as we’re not a dressage family. What she WILL be is a gun endurance pony (bold, good fast walk and trot), and she’s handy and agile enough to turn a hoof to games, barrels and a bit of showjumping too.
But I don’t enjoy riding her… She’s still green, and I am still riding her quite defensively. It’s largely my fault that she has had so much time off, and I am determined to correct that this summer, but I don’t yet know her well enough to know what her reactions are going to be, or to (really) trust her yet. Riding her requires concentration. Horizon scanning for potential monsters. An engaged core and deep heels, just in case we have an issue when I put on outside leg (she resents it, and being a mare she lets me know!)
So I chafe.. I want to ride Joe. Getting onto his back is like coming home. I KNOW what he will do: he almost never spooks, he can be ridden on a loose rein with one hand and I just about only have to THINK about a change of gait and I get it. He knows the cue for “stop and have a graze” and for “back off buddy, that’s fast enough” as well as for “OK mate, straight track ahead, LET’S GO!’. Most of them you would barely be able to pick from the ground, but he knows what they are.
But not so long ago, he too was green. He needed to be ridden defensively, and we once spent an hour getting up the driveway (about half a mile) because he wanted to jog and I wasn’t going to let him). He too was wobbly, and we couldn’t get the right canter lead to save ourselves. On our first 20km social ride, we took 20 minutes to get past a stack of wrapped silage bales.
Joe on his first ride at the breakers.
It was only 4 years ago.. but when you stop and think about it that is literally hundreds of hours of riding time. (About 4 or 500, based on three rides a week). It’s a gradual process, which sneaks up on you, and then suddenly, there you are, a partnership.
Thing about Joe was, riding him was an end in itself. He was always destined to be my long term mount, whereas Savannah is destined for one of the kids. I need her to settle down and BE TRAINED ALREADY, so I can hand her on. Riding her is in danger of becoming a means to an end. being about the destination,. not the journey. But it’s not a process you can rush. It takes TIME to make a team.
So.. deep breath, calm down. Accept that”it will take as long as it takes”. And realise that somewhere along the line, IF I can back off and make it about the journey not the destination, magic will happen and we will become a team. She will become a horse I can trust: the basic nature is there.
And then I probably won’t want to give her back…