Sour Side Up, Milton

The Gray Wonder

 

As the excitement from the show wore off, I grew increasingly disappointed in Milton’s response. I put a lot of effort into getting ready for Mid-South [Report]. I wanted to put on a good show, okay, I wanted to show off in front of the community that has been so accepting of me over the past seven years. That’s the best we can do? Seriously Horse, you can’t even wrap your head around a simple flat class? I’m not saying he needed to be perfect. Just to try.

I’m not fussing about our placing. In all probability, our ribbons would have been exactly the same if he had been the gender-bent reincarnation of Rox Dene. I’m disappointed in the theatrics. I’m disappointed that he had a come-apart at the first sign of imagined adversity.

We have worked hard to bring Milton along gradually. He cannot complain about being rushed. Sure, he’s had good days and good moments. However, he’s never really risen to the occasion. More like doing a decent job of grasping the next tiny step we have carefully laid out in front of him. This time he couldn’t even do that.

Is this my life now, a horse who loses his cool at the first hint of complication?

Yes, he’s a Thoroughbred. I’ve ride TBs all my life. Aside from Matilda, all my horses have been TBs, off the track and otherwise. I know from TB hysteria. This is an extreme reaction to minor stimuli. A serious case of easily overwhelmed and then not handling the overwhelm. Without a payback in performance on good days. The mare who won Badminton this year is apparently a PIA 364 days of the year. But on that one good day, she wins a five-star international event. This you put up with.

Time for a return on our investment. Not just of money, but of time, of effort, of thought, of the days we spent trailering him so that he can work in a ring, of going slowly, of spending time away from home on non-compete trips, of choosing small simple competitions at places he knows.

Last week, I started our open field training. After one lap around the pasture by himself, Milton was covered with nervous sweat. One lap. At a slow walk. Through areas he grazes daily.

Dude needs to step up.

At some point, it’s supposed to be fun. Otherwise, why do it?

I’ll get over myself in a day or two.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Categories: Horses

3 replies »

  1. As one of my friends and instructors has said to me after a similar gripe: “I think he has your number maybe just a tad.” I laughed. She laughed, but she meant what she said. So I thought about that. I’m a pretty solid rider. Not much phases me. But I’ve been struggling to find that sweet spot that’s somewhere between asking too firmly and offending the horse and asking so nicely that he blows me off. I’d venture to guess that the better part of the last year I’ve been borderline wishy-washy …. too nice, giving him too much benefit of the doubt, and his response has been to wait and see if I really mean what I’m asking. Hey, he’s not dumb and he’s gonna take the path of least resistance every time. He just turned seven. Many QH his age are out there killin’ it. Apparently he’s a slow bloomer, which is what I tell myself to try to feel a little better about our turtle-paced progress. He has OH MY GOD moments at things I just don’t get, but then he tolerates things I’d never expect. Mostly, when he gets worried I go with it and just put him back on track. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes tweaks my patience. (Which has never been my forte) So what if Milton sweats when you ride in the field? Sweating never killed a horse. Do another lap. Move him like you would if you were in a ring. Don’t question yourself if he bobbles. Babies bobble. So what? Just keep going according to plan and let him figure it out. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  2. All will be well! I do think field work is good – horses have to pay better attention in a field, even their own, than in the smooth-coated ring (corners and footing being consistent), and there’s more to look at in a field, worry about behind the fence (or beyond the fencerow), more variables in terrain and surroundings. He’ll get used to it, and keep pushing ahead – he’s come so far, and will continue! Bravo for your showing goals this year – totally do-able – the horse is sound and has ability! You go girl!

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