Virtual Attitude

Training Journal

If you’re riding a horse, you’ve already won.

Awareness of the outside world. Had my first coronavirus dream. Three of us wandered around a large, empty furniture store. That is, the store was full of furniture but empty of people. Went to get on an elevator. The imminent close quarters with other people made us realize that we had forgotten our masks. One person turned toward the wall (a bit of business from *Murderbot*). I pulled my shirt up over my nose. Even in my dream, I knew it was not ideal, but all I had. Why? Who knows. Probably not the last one.

The ride is virtual. The attitude is real.

Our Non-Racing Thoroughbreds
Milton has decided he is not racing. Rodney never was.

Great news! It means that we can proceed around the pasture without having to stay lockstep. Lieutenant Longlegs can trot off while Milton moseyes along at his own pace. Or Milton’s rider can get a wild hair and trot off into the sunset while Rodney walks.

Okay, not really into the sunset. The one in the lead usually waits at the next corner. Part of the point of this ride is doing it together.

I am suspicious of this good fortune. I have had a horse fall back of his own accord and then stage a raging hissy fit because he was too far behind. Horses can also get upset about being in the lead, being behind, or being passed. I want to believe, but remain ready to choke up on the reins.

They have thoughts. Rodney is not always rock solid about taking point; other times he resents being stuck on a narrow part of the trail behind Captain Slow. Passing doesn’t seem to be a problem for either one, as long we leave a wide berth between Rodney and Sharknado.

At least, this is true at walk & trot. Canter still a work in progress. On Sunday, Milton had two adorable short canters. Then, anxiety about having to canter again caused the cheese to slid off his cracker. It was a small cracker, but the cheese definitely hit the floor. Trotted fine after. Once he’s over it, he’s over it and wondering why you are hyperventilating. Rodney was waiting ahead during both canters. Racing flashbacks? Generalized cantering trepidation?

Rodney’s cantering is 50/50, either losing gas or prompting a protest. We were about to try again when l’affaire fromage occurred. We stayed behind at a quiet trot for the rest of the ride.

Making Good Choices
That feeling when you aren’t quite sitting on a keg of dynamite, but the horse is definitely about to drop the Mentos in the Coke.

That was me last Thursday.

Historically, Rodney’s reaction has been to get anxious. About everything. This was different. I thought he was crabby about work. Then, I wondered if he was happy and feeling full of himself. This lead to a brief but scenic reprise of the classic tailspin of me wondering if I could ride my own horse. [Virtual Gaits, Virtual Gaits Update]

I was at a loss on how to respond. Then I realized that Rodney doesn’t know either. He has no idea how to respond. He needs help making good choices.

Rodney: I’m behind Milton/in front of Milton/starting out/insert snit of the moment, I’m going to get upset.

Me: No, you’re not.

Rodney: Oh, okay.


Rodney: We’ve trotted a bunch of times and I’m tired and … and …

Me: We’re just going to walk for while and you’re going to relax and stretch your neck out and have a happy, pleasant time.

Rodney: Alright, that sounds better.


Rodney: I see fairies!

Me: There are no fairies in that corner. You are not a Saddlebred. Take the ears down a notch.

Rodney: Are you sure about no fairies?

Sometimes it is more direct.

Rodney, bulging his shoulder and pulling back to the barn.

Me: WRONG choice.


Rodney, making the turnaround like a gentleman.

Me: Good choice.

The image-feeling I have is of me keeping a clear area around myself. I have to be firm about maintaining my psychic space. It is easy to get drawn in to the emotional chatter that comes off of Rodney in a cloud. I sort through this chatter and help him identify responses that will make him happier.

Once he’s happier, he becomes more rideable, which makes me happier, which makes me easier to carry, which makes him happier, and so on, in an ascending spiral.

So far. We’ll see if it lasts.

Does this have any bearing on reality? Who knows. If I think this way while I ride, he goes better. [The Power of Narrative, Pre-Show: A Change in Attitude Discovery 1: Theory, Show Report: NACHS 2017, Riding. Reading these posts reminded me of the awesomeness that is Dottie. But I digress.]

Stay safe. Stay sane.
Katherine Walcott

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