Back in August, Neuf decided to show his naughty side again and unceremoniously unloaded me bucking as he bolted. This was after several months of nice rides, improvement, and me feeling confident he was growing up. Ha! He’s still 5. I landed on my feet, momentum carried me to a full fall…like sliding into home plate, and I was essentially uninjured…except for my confidence.
That was injured…nearly paralyzed.
Martin was in France…so we lunged first. Neuf was ridiculously sucked back, I was not being effective and when Martin returned, we went out together and Neuf was being quite determined to not walk forward past a spot on the trail…
I lunged a couple more times, he was still sucked back, so I was starting to go down the “he’s broken” rabbit trail. Of course this means I was running fatal scenarios through my head “Wobbler’s”, neurological, you know…the usual doom & gloom, catastrophic outcome. Then after 3 days of lunging/riding he limped a tiny bit. I got off, looked at his feet and in 3 weeks he’d outgrown his shoes and his heels were getting crushed.
I put some Magic Cushion in his feet, the farrier was scheduled for a few days later (we have a 4 week schedule for a reason!) and when he came, he made a bigger pair of shoes, we put the hoof testers on and Neuf was reactive in the heel…so perhaps this drama started over sore feet?!? I rode him after, he felt good, he was still giving me the “Prove to me that you really mean you want me to go forward” hesitation, so…
Neuf went to boarding school the following Sunday. And he’s been quite well behaved ever since. And…I am liking this full training deal. I go ride him 3 or 4 times a week, and I have company/supervision for hacks, and lessons for the other rides, Martin rides him the other days to get Neuf to his 6 sessions a week. Neuf also goes to the shows with Martin, he either schools or gets entered into classes where appropriate. I go play owner at as many as I can, and as my confidence improves…and his relaxation improves, I get on after Martin’s ridden him.
I think a big part of the enjoyment is that I am a tiny bit more confident when I have Martin there because I have it in my head that if Neuf is bad, I’ll just hand him over to Martin, even though I only did that once, it is in my back pocket. The other part is that Martin is as patient with me as with the green horses, when my confidence has vanished, he waits for it to come back.
I’ve now worked up to cantering Neuf out on trail (albeit nervously) and am jumping him in the ring (not nervous!). I’m getting more comfortable with his bigger movement and we’ve changed the warmup to be much more hunter like, which pleases Neuf. I’m sticking to keeping my death grip on the neck strap, leaving his face alone, and slowly starting to trust that every bit of forward is not going to end up in a bucking bolt.
Meanwhile, after a long summer of struggling to schedule dressage lessons, suddenly I’m getting too many! Linda Zang has still been coming to our area, Inga has had a couple of times where our schedules align, and Lauren Sprieser is coming to the farm again.
Some exercises I’m doing on Bali…renvers in canter, or at least attempting to get to renvers, when she throws in lots and lots of clean changes as evasions. And a deceptively hard but simple exercise of cantering on a 20m circle, at each quarter point, do a 10m circle using only seat and outside rein. Not legs, not inside rein. As further proof that the late changes are rider induced…the evasion changes are always clean.