EN is a super nice person. She is someone I could see myself becoming good friends with. I think it would be endlessly fun to hang out with her in a non lesson capacity. I want to see her succeed in her business and life.
|First watermelon from the garden. Last year they all rotted on the vine. A patient recommended I apply powdered milk after planting but before flowers bud and it seemed to work!|
I've learned so many new things in the short time I have been riding with her. Leonard and I can now reliably do haunches in down the long side, leg yields, pick up both canter leads without fuss, he has a half halt mostly installed, and my leg position has never been more solid. We are getting better at turn on the forehand, my reaction to spooks/nonsense has gone from screaming in mortal terror to softly correcting and/or ignoring and moving on and overall we are in a much better place than over the winter.
It isn't all rainbows and unicorn farts. Some lessons she pushes us too much and both our brains melt. Other lessons feel like we didn't really do anything or get anywhere. It is a balance. I still feel like we are in the courting phase of our relationship. Sure I have been riding with her technically since February but Leonard had an entire month off in March for a leg cut and then we had all of June off due to EN being on vacation and me getting COVID again. So while technically it has been 5 months, in reality it has only been 3 months of active work. Given that, I expect a learning curve for both of us on how everything goes.
|A little over ripe but still juicy and delicious|
So what is my problem?
There is a fundamental issue I am having that I am unsure we can move past. Maybe this is all normal and I have just not been riding with the correct people in the past and I need to get over myself. That is a viable option too which is why I am putting this out to the blogosphere for opinions.
It all began during my very first lesson with her. We were maybe 5 minutes in to the ride, still warming up, and she told me I needed to ride with a crop. Leonard was very behind my leg, not moving forward when asked and in general short strided. The addition of the crop as an aide helped to get him to understand that forward wasn't a suggestion. I've ridden with a crop ever since though I can't recall the last time I did anything with it beyond carry it.
Lots of people ride with crops, so I didn't think much of it. I never had, but I also rode two fiery forward horses whose main focus was bringing them back and slowing them down. A crop wasn't necessary.
|Kiddo loves the garden, even in a summer downpour. He is ripping out the brussel sprout plants that dies in the heat wave.|
Then a couple lessons later she handed me a set of spurs and said I needed to always ride with those. Leonard was being a tad resistant to lateral cues at the time and she said it would help make the concept more solidified. Again, lots of people ride with spurs and it did help with the lateral work. I had never had a quiet enough lower leg to use them before plus again Eeyore and Gem well...we never actually worked on any lateral work so who knows if they would have benefitted. I still ride with spurs most of the time. Some days at home I leave them off.
At this point we had been riding for maybe a month and I had two new riding aides: the crop and spurs.
Then a couple lessons later she grabbed a different bit. I had been riding him in a french link full cheek snaffle. He has a super soft mouth. I had never had any issues with him not listening in this bit, but we had upped the level of work with newer and much more technical exercises which had led to him beginning to root and blow me off. Actually, thinking back it was the day we began to work on the canter strides over poles which fried both our brains. Anyway...she grabbed a two ring elevator/gag. He hated this bit, it was a bit much for him. While he did listen to my half halts better, he also sucked way back, became tense and resistant. She wanted me to start riding him in this bit full time. I did not. I continue to ride him in the full cheek snaffle to this day.
|The first stall is sorta our scarp wood/junk stall. Lenny had thrown his saddle pad into it from the cross ties, so I went to grab it. This little guy greeted me.|
Right before June, she asked to ride Leonard with her trainer to get some ideas to help with his straightness. I love it when a trainer rides my horse so that they can get a first hand feel for what I am working with. I feel like it gives them a better idea. Well...about 5 minutes into the warm up her trainer ran and grabbed a standing martingale. She said it was to keep his head in a box which in turn will keep him straighter. He fussed a great deal to begin with, but eventually settled a bit into it. They told me to buy one and use it for every ride. I did not.
EN left for a long vacation right after which meant no lessons for a couple weeks, then I got COVID and took a couple weeks off myself. Last night I had my first lesson with her in over a month. We got to work. I was sooo happy with Leonard. He was being a bit spooky in the back half of the arena, but he listened. His half halts were amazing, the lateral work was spot on and we got our left lead perfectly. Yet for some reason she mentioned the martingale, asked if I was using it and when I told her no she insisted I get one.
I will not be getting one.
Looking at everything it feels like we are rushing to gizmos and gadgets at the first sign of any resistance from Lenny instead of like...you know...taking time to train him? The spurs and crop I was ok with since so many people ride with them, but looking back it seems that the spurs were awfully quickly added. I mean, we had only just started asking for lateral work. He had no idea what I was asking for. He is such a good egg who tries his heart out for me. Sure, the spurs allow for a more focal aid, but maybe had we taken more time to introduce the concept he wouldn't have even needed them. He is pretty responsive once he understands the question.
|Floof is the most needy dog I've ever had. Plus he hogs all the space. I don't mind though. I adore him.|
The whole bit thing is what finally got me thinking about all this. I was not comfortable upping him to a gag after one inkling of resistance to a completely new concept that was above our pay grade how it was being introduced. Sure, the added leverage kept him from blowing me off on the back side but it didn't help him understand what I was truly asking. I was so thankful when we took a month off for me to work more slowly with him again. Wouldn't you know it - by taking a step back he returned better than ever.
Sure, he has some straightness issues but he is an 8 year old OTTB who hasn't had to ever work like this before who is being ridden by a complete ammy. I could shove him in the martingale. He probably would go straighter since the gadget would force him to, but is that really teaching him how to use his body properly? A lot of people use them, so I assume it works but I'm not ready to add that to our tack.
So...I don't know what to do. I am not going to keep adding pieces of equipment or using harsher pieces of equipment at every single sign of resistance to new concepts. I also don't want to be constantly fighting my trainer either. I'm sure on her end she doesn't enjoy having to work through things that she feels a piece of tack would instantly fix for a student who isn't listening to her.
I think I may need to find a new trainer which makes me very sad. Thoughts?