Progress Among Chaos
I’ve done a pretty good job balancing all my responsibilities through graduate school, but this quarter is when that’s all gone to hell. I put too much on my plate, knew it, and am suffering the consequences. Even though I only have one week of classes left, lots of grading for my TA position, and a final paper, I’m still pretty much just throwing buckets of water out of the life raft so it doesn’t sink. It’s rough right now y’all. It’s rough.
That doesn’t leave a lot of time for Poet, but I guess that’s why I pay for full training. On a good week, I get one or two times out at the barn. Compared to my usual schedule of 3-4, that seems incredibly sparse. The limited time makes it hard to bond with him and establish a relationship, but I’m doing the best I can.
With the trainers, he’s making great progress. They’ve moved him up to the “big boy” ring and have started jumping him over some little X’s. The report is that he’s a little squirrely for the first ride after a few days off, but is behaving himself. He gets bored with the same thing over and over, typical Thoroughbred, which is why they’ve started adding cavaletti and little jumps into the mix. Simon was the same way with his brain, so I’m not worried about that. I’m good at doing more than just plodding around on the rail for an hour.
My lesson last Friday wasn’t what I expected, but exactly what I needed. Since he’s been so good, I drove to the barn with images of moving up to the big ring myself and cantering big, happy circles. But when I got there, Poet was a turd bucket of a baby horse on the ground. He kept biting the air in frustration, wouldn’t stand still, was distracted by everything and wouldn’t listen to me. An ADD brat.
I don’t like to admit it, but when I first got him I was a little scared of him on the ground when he acted like this. Simon had saintly ground manners, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle this abrupt change. But I can (and do). Poet’s silly baby moments on the ground don’t bother me anymore, we train through them, but when I know I’m about to get on I still get nervous. I see him thinking about being a pony kite, and I immediately get visions of him leaping through the air and me flying off into a heap on the ground.
Trainer noticed the wild look in his eye, and said she would get on first if I wanted. But I took a deep breath and told myself this was all part of buying a four year old, and that I needed to buck up.
Once I got on, he was a perfect angel. We didn’t canter circles in the big ring, rather trotted circles and worked on steering in the smaller one, but it was still a really successful day. He listened to me, did the best he could, and let me know when I was confusing him with my aids. In return, I worked on dumbing everything down to his baby-horse level, and told him he was the bestest boy every time he did the right thing.
Progress between the two of us is really slow right now, but that’s really my fault. I can’t ride much with my schedule, and I have to learn to be brave with a young horse. That’s not going to happen overnight with me. It’s going to take a lot of walk-trot lessons, and time with him for me to learn that just because he may be acting like a brat on the ground doesn’t mean he’s going to be a naughty boy when I ride.
For now, I’m just trying to get through school so I can breathe and then take some real time to learn my new horse. Soon!