Remember that time when I was like it’s flat work boot camp time! And I was all gung-ho and all COUNTER CANTER ALL THE THINGS! And Simon’s brain exploded?
Oh wait, I didn’t tell you about the brain explosion part.
So, flat work boot camp started out fantastic. We did bending! We did circles! We did rollbacks! We did counter canter! We did canter extensions! We did transitions… well, we didn’t do transitions. Instead, we did a series of really shitty rides where I really just wanted a few good damn transitions.
I did not get a few good ones. I might have gotten a few okay ones, but stupid Lauren wasn’t happy with mediocre and was in a perfectionist mood. In case you haven’t caught on (because I haven’t apparently), Simon is not a perfectionist kind of horse.
Frustrated, I signed him up for boot camp while I was on vacation and told my trainer, “I don’t care if he jumps please just improve this hacking situation anyway you can.”
My first ride back, I had a noticeably nicer horse to ride. Oooo. Ahhhhh. Lovely! I kept the ride fairly simple since I felt fat and out of shape from eating pony birthday cake and countless other treats. Only when I cooled my horse out did I feel my phone buzz in my pocket with a text from my trainer, who had said we would catch up on Simon flatting specifics when I was back in town. The text was long and informative, but I will paraphrase it for you.
Stop working on transitions. Trot on a loose rein. Teach him ‘whoa’.
Whoa, as in not a downward transition but a “I said whoa out loud and now you have to stop without me pulling on the reins.” Otherwise known as the things you teach a baby horse before you do things like… oh I don’t know… counter canter and lead changes. Sigh.
Of course she’s right and I know she’s right, and I am listening to her and working on our “whoa” and working on trotting and cantering on a loose rein/light contact without letting him build up speed on his own. My reward (so far) is a very relaxed Simon who is listening to me say “Easy” when he gets too quick. I know he’s happier going long and low too. The proof is in the pudding, she’s absolutely right.
So this is why I have a trainer, and this is why I listen to her… because sometimes I can’t be trusted to institute my own boot camp. If you need me, I’ll be teaching my horse voice commands and awaiting to when we are allowed to graduate back to transitions 🙂