July 24, 2013

Ohio Memories Part 2: Boot Camp

I had ideas of what to expect at this new barn. I pictured Gemmie being steadily and thoughtfully worked daily with goals being reached and plans being made. Ha! What I got was a horse rode by a student (an exceptionally talented and awesome student, but a student nonetheless) in lessons randomly moving into jumping without ever building a decent base whatsoever. Sigh. I did get a steadily depleting bank account though so that counts for something, right?

I told the trainer in the beginning my woes:

  1. She moves at a speed that would make a NASCAR driver jealous, dangerously cutting corners and thinking speed will get her out of work. Incidentally in the beginning it did cuz I didn't want to die.
  2. She would be going great and then sharply without warning turn 180 degrees to the right and move off in her new direction.
  3. She is a spaz out on trails and spooks at everything, even the monsters in her head

She did get worked 5 days a week and boy was she tired! I thought she was lazy because all she did was nap in her tiny, horse crammed, all sand paddock and the trainer thought so too. Knowing what I do now (hindsight is amazing, isn't it?) she was just plum tired from the work.

Well, as expected Gem learned a whole lotta nothing there, but I actually did. I learned how to stop screaming that I was going to die and actually ride instead. I learned the use of tiny circles to make her slow down. I learned how to jump, sorta, kinda, not really, but at least I learned how not to fall off when she ran out at the last second or dirty stopped a half inch from the jump. I learned that I truly hate being pushed beyond my comfort zone until I am 100% ready to do so. I also learned the most important and life riding altering fact I have learned to date: Gem is much, much smarter than I am. She knows exactly the moment I stop paying attention and she waits for it. Then she makes her move and smugly looks at me from above (cuz I am no longer on her now) and chalks it up as a victory. If I don't ride every.single.second of every.single.ride she takes full advantage. That piece of knowledge has made all the difference.

The hubs at some point lost interest in watching me fall off ride and asked me to find him a horse. I found him Pete who fits him amazingly, awesomely well. He is some number of years old, some unknown breed (Haflinger cross of some sort) and 16 hands tall. They are a perfect pair. He trail rides, jumps and generally has a good time. He is everything Gem is not - forgiving, kind, brave and likes to work. He has his flaws such as the fact that he is absolutely convinced he can not bend under saddle and will do a perfect sideways canter instead of turning and a hatred for standing still, but he is great for the hubby.

I managed to make some progress before we moved to the wonderful land that is Wisconsin and we did jump and canter and trot somewhat more calmly in the end.

I had to leave with a lasting impression though so here is this:

We entered the indoor to ride with the hubs on Pete. The sprinkler was on to water the footing. It is an old fashioned one the spins slowly to the left then flies back to the right spraying water everywhere and begins again. The hubs trots off bravely and gets Pete to walk through it at the extent of it's reach so the water only hits his lower front legs. I decide in a moment of insanity to take Gem over. I start off and then the hubs decides to join us and instead of going to the outside goes to the inside. This means Pete gets hit full force in his chest while blinding Gem to what is going on. Pete bolts, the hubs laughs, Gem bolts and slams into the wall and I fall off into the nice mud. :)

Those woes I mentioned? When I left the training barn:
  1. She still moved at a speed faster than is altogether necessary with the whole hearted hope that it would get her out of real work.
  2. She stopped this trick almost entirely and would only pull it out in extreme circumstances
  3. She was still a spaz outside the indoor which wasn't surprising since the trainer never worked outside the indoor with her
And to top it all off I was told the she would never ever be able to canter in a straight line. She would, at the time, swing her rear in so she was crooked. My "trainer" said it was just her and to always canter in a circle. Sigh. She was just out of shape, but what do I know?


Next up....our move to Wisconsin.

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