You get what you expect – every time!

Ride #9 last night just made me laugh. The VLC, being only three and humongous, is still a bit downhill. It’s a constant challenge to keep my heels down and my shoulders back at the trot because the combination of a downhill build and a strong trot tends to throw you forward. A few times last night, he unexpectedly hit the brakes from the trot, and my weight sailed forward most ungracefully. I quickly realized that he stops if I lean forward at all.

This is my karmic retribution for leaning forward my whole life. A greenie who stops if I lean forward. THAT will teach me, won’t it? This is just not something that happens with Thoroughbreds, LOL. Darn Quarter Horses…

I figured it out and started to sit back, close my legs on him and anticipate what he was going to do. The good news is that he gives up easily – he just expects me to be awake up there or he might just drift to a stop when he gets tired. I am asking for longer trots now, and I am not sure he is that thrilled about the prospect of actually breaking a sweat! Twice he did his old trick from the first and second rides of going into reverse. I half-heartedly swished the ends of the reins around his butt but admit I chickened out of doing what I probably should have done and smacking him a good one. He quit and went forward and got rewarded for going forward.

We also had some residual issues from the goat episode. There is a different goat chained next to the arena, which he normally ignores, but when it got caught with its chain around a metal box, he spooked again. It wasn’t a big spook and we continued on. Of course I wonder if I spooked him because I heard the noise and it startled me. Time for the ipod and/or ear plugs for me – I am quite sure I am spookier than the horse!

Then, my friend with the CSS (Cute Spotted Stallion) came in to talk and noted that she was surprised that the other night when I rode the CSS, I rode right past the goat without any problems. She admitted she had been avoiding the goat and that she’d almost warned me but then thought better of it. I wasn’t surprised that he went right past – I didn’t know he had any issues with the goat, you see, so I wasn’t anticipating! With the VLC, I know we have a goat issue and I was anticipating. You get what you expect to get. Damn it.

I have many stories like this. I remember riding a horse for a trainer one day, at her direction, while she was gone. She returned and asked how the horse had gone. I said she was great, I really liked her, and she had a nice lead change on her. The trainer’s mouth fell open.

“You did flying changes? And she didn’t buck???”

No, she didn’t buck. Not once. I wasn’t expecting a buck, you see. I just rode confidently forward and she nailed her changes, because my information was that she was an experienced horse owned by a novice rider and that’s how I rode her.

I think this is one of the HARDEST things about overcoming fear – overcoming the anticipation! You know what has spooked your horse in the past, or what has triggered a misbehavior, so it’s freakin’ impossible to ride confidently and not anticipate the worst. At the same time, you know that YOUR fear is scaring the horse! As it was explained to me many years ago, the horse cannot conceive of the idea that HE is what is scary. Therefore if you are on his back and scared, he assumes you have caught wind of a predator he hasn’t noticed yet. That’s why when you get on a horse and are scared, the horse does everything you feared he’d do! You are freaking him out with your fear. It’s a vicious cycle and hard to turn off.

Is this something that is a problem for you? How are you dealing with it? I have historically used the strategy of telling myself that I’m not on a greenie, I’m on a 20 year old schoolie who needs to be sorted out because the kids have spoiled him. For some reason, bucking/spooking/bolting is not scary if you think you are on an old coot who is f’ing with you, as opposed to an actual green horse…even though they’re the same behaviors! At least that’s how it works in my head.

Forget training the horse…how do we train/psych out ourselves?

P.S. I sheepishly admit that CnJ was right…I was leaning to the left around my corners, damn it! I put more weight in my outside stirrup and he stopped dropping his shoulder so far. *sigh* I do need someone to come out here and pick on my position but I need to find an English saddle that fits him first as I know I ride ridiculously in the purple colt breaking saddle. Anybody out there got a cheap, beat-up wide tree hunt or dressage schooling saddle they’d like to sell me? If it fit your warmblood, it’ll probably fit the AQHA moose here.

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Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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