We’ve all heard the saying – a bad ride before the show means you’ll have a perfect show. Well right now I’m having anxiety twinges in my chest non-stop because we’ve had FOUR lessons with major issues, in a row. The last one was this past Saturday and it was scary. So I’m really trying not to panic. But its a struggle.
According to the principle of that wives’ tale, I should have the best show ever. Ha.
Its stressing me out to even think about the lesson, but suffice to say that Hemie was again very upset at not being allowed to throw his right shoulder out. I was struggling with him so Laurie got on him and there was some major wigging out. I got back on and he mostly settled down, but then coming to a jump off the right lead he bit down on the bit, dragged his face forward and left, yanking my right rein away from me, and he ran out to the left, almost pulling me out of the saddle.
I was speechless and completely freaked out. This is not my normal horse. Hemie LOVES to jump. He has never thrown a fit like that before. I got this gut-wrenching sense that he was ANGRY.
Laurie smartly observed that we would continue to have issues if we didn’t change something, so she had us go and jump a different jump off the left lead which allowed Hemie and I to both calm down and not feel pressured. But then it was time to try our problem jump again.
I’m actually quite proud of both of us for how we moved forward. It was clear that Hemie did not want his face to be touched (Laurie thought he was still emotionally sensitive from their “discussion”). Laurie told me to have a loose rein and have faith that he would do it. I’m still amazed that I was able to do so, but I rode with the reins flopping in the wind (I was holding the jump strap for dear life, though!) and amazingly, Hemie came forward and straight and jumped. We then went around to different jumps from both leads. Slowly I could add a little more rein contact and Hemie was fine with it. By the end we were back to a normal, balanced place with me having very soft reins (not flapping in the wind) and Hemie was calm, listening, and straight.
We were both completely drenched in sweat and the tack was caked with sweat lather. Hemie got a bath and the tack got a thorough cleaning, then I cleaned up and headed over a fundraiser to support Debbie Rosen and Al for their Rolex trip this coming weekend!
Even though we ended on a good note, I’m still very bothered at how this situation is escalating. There were moments during the jump lesson that I thought “this is very dangerous. this is simply unacceptable” and to be honest part of my ability to be able to get through it was the knowledge that I was wearing both my safety vests and a brand new helmet.
There’s been a little voice in the back of my head from the first lesson we had this issue with ~2 weeks ago: that there has got to be a different way to train Hemie that is more relaxed and calm, without upsetting him so much. Normally we both enjoy dressage and Hemie likes solving the puzzle.
Given we have the show this weekend, I just want the rest of our rides to be calm and relaxed. I don’t want any fights, any wigging out, any tension. I want us to be on the same team 100% of the time. I plan on doing some stretching and mental prep before riding tonight. How can I expect Hemie to be calm if I bring this anxiety and tension to the ride?