Neuf has been on probation for about a year now. He is big, he figured out he was big, he was being a bit of a bully in his terrible teenage years (aka a 4 year old in horse years), and I resorted to getting some outside help with him, while keeping the potential need to sell him in mind. I am not going to be the adult-amateur who gets hurt because I’m too stubborn to sell an inappropriate horse. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to sit that trot!
But, both my instructor, Inga, and Neuf’s pro-rider, Martin, did not think I should be too hasty in selling him. They appear to have been right. I never quit riding Neuf, I’ve been riding him 3-5x a week all along, but it wasn’t always fun as I had some apprehension over my abilities to ride through naughtiness. What I did was have Martin come to work on the things that were giving me problems, such as riding out, bucking as resistance to going forward, and he also jumps Neuf for me. I feel good riding Neuf these days and only call Martin for jumping.
I haven’t ridden Neuf in the entire front field in about a year. That was consistently where he would have his 4 year old tantrums and I didn’t feel confident enough to go out there. I have been riding in the other fields, and even the house side of the front, but hadn’t gone out to the road, by myself, in a year. This morning, I headed out there and he was fantastic. We did a full school next to the road, no worries about traffic, a brief glance at the jogger, and he stayed soft enough to sit his trot once warmed up.
He’s been very good for the past 6 months, just on a pleasant path of improvement with normal levels of resistance to adding effort, no more bucking, no more feeling that I’ll get unceremoniously dumped if something new comes along. His non-spooky personality is coming back and I’m having fun riding him. He is a nice horse, both in personality and movement. Inga was right, I can sit his trot.
It is even time to start jumping him myself. Who knows, maybe I’ll do a few jumping shows again before we settle into dressage. Neuf is happy with both and as an amateur, with no delusions of grandeur, having fun is my number one priority. I’m still keeping the USDF Silver and Gold rider medals in the back of my mind as a long term goal, but only so long as it is fun to keep working on those goals.
Bali and Neuf, amusing me with their antics over hay scraps last summer.