Continuing to repost the entries from my previous monthly blogs Back To Eventing and Back To Riding. This was originally posted on the USEA website Mon, 2011-02-28, archived here. Illustration by Jean Abernethy.
Back To Eventing: Getting to Know You
(A continuing series on a rider’s return to eventing with her new horse.)
As of February 1st – 218 days to AEC 2011
Amateur: one who loves or is fond of.
Oxford English Dictionary
Amateur: one that engages in an activity in an inexperienced or incompetent manner.
I feel sorry for Phillip Dutton. Enter his name on the USEA Rider Search. In October 2010, he rode seven horses at Preliminary in the Waradaca Horse Trials. He finished 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, & 11. Sure he rides many horses, jumps many fences, and wins many ribbons, but how much time is he allowed to spend with each horse? Does a busy trainer ever have the opportunity to stand by the pasture water trough waiting for a horse to finish drinking and then notice that the horse looks like a total goof because he left the tip of his tongue sticking out when he was done? At a professional’s barn, the horse must fit into the program. At an amateur’s barn, the horse can be the program.
Although I am still not riding, Rodney’s schedule calls for double sessions. In the morning, he does hillwork in hand wearing bridle and boots. When I am back in the saddle, this will become ring work. In the afternoon, he goes for a long walk in a halter. This will become our relaxation/trail ride/conditioning time.
Here’s what I have learned so far:
If they were, they wouldn’t be horses. Rodney does not like curry combs or brushes waving about his head. Yet, a flapping towel evokes no reaction. Similarly, he does not like being curried or brushed very hard. He prefers to be wiped down with said towel. Yet, during a massage, he will lean into pressure that ought to be an uncomfortable poke in the side.
A small step for a human is a large hurdle for a horse. The goal is to do trot sets together. Rodney is willing but confuses easily. Asking him to trot inhand uphill spikes his weird-o-meter. I need to establish walk uphill and trot on the flat before combining. Pushing the envelope immediately defaults to tension.
In all likelihood, this horse does not intend to kick me in the head. A few days ago, Rodney was pushy at breakfast. Upon my reprimand, he lept away like a startled bunny. An adrenaline spike sent me ducking off to the side. Backstory: Previous Horse was cranky, When wearing a halter, PH would not kick or bite. He knew retribution would be swift and sure. However, if he was at liberty and thought he could get a clear shot…. In his defense, PH was not mean, he was just born a grouchy old man.
So, I now have to unlearn 20 years of habits and relearn what sends this particular Thoroughbred into orbit.
Rodney’s Saga repost locations
BTE 1 of 9: How I Won the Training Level AEC
BTE 2 of 9: The Cast Assembles
BTE 3 of 9: The AEC, a Realization in Five Phases
BTE 4 of 9: New Horse Blues
BTE 5 of 9: Buying the Horse is Only the Beginning
BTE 6 of 9: Back To Square One