Monday, April 7, 2014

Gold Star

So hopefully you all remember Montana, who I posted about just a week ago.  I didn't go much into his current training at the time, but that's ok because he proved every single thing we thought about him wrong this weekend.  But let me back up a little.

Montana's dad (D) does and has done lots and lots of ground work with Montana.  Ground work is great, and necessary, but inevitably D would like to ride Montana.  So that would require us to work on riding him.  Seeing as I definitely have more experience in the saddle than on the ground anyways, all of our lessons have involved me getting D up on the horse.  D has now come to expect this from me, however he's certainly hesitant, and for good reason.

Once on Montana you're never quite sure what you're going to get.  He is by no means a nasty horse and I don't think he intentionally wants to be bad.... I just consider him very confused, very large, and very strong.  And a little bit of a brat ;)  Mix all those things together and it can be a daunting combo.  Montana has very little knowledge in the way of steering, walking, trotting, or halting.  So we're basically at ground zero.  Just a few weeks ago, these pictures were taken of D during a lesson, and they're pretty accurate in representing Montana.

Montana is the best at Derp face.
This photo is by no means a representation of D's abilities.  He is a very capable rider doing his very best with his green bean.  This photo is very telling however.  Montana is quite tense, typically braced with his head uncomfortably close to your face, and overall is a confused boy.

Therefore, when I informed D that we were having our lesson outside on Saturday, he was hesitant.  Montana gives us a run for our money in the enclosed indoor, what on Earth would he do with all the distractions and freedom that come from the outdoor?  But alas, I am all about dealing with things head on and having high expectations.  After a brief pep talk that included things like, "We are expecting him to behave because he stares at the outdoor all day, therefore it is not scary." and "The ground is softer out there anyways." D agreed to go, and off we went.

Well let me just say it is a crying shame that there was no one standing around with a camera on Saturday.  I had D handwalk Montana a lap in each direction, mostly for D's peace of mind.  I was cautiously optimistic when I observed Montana walking around with a level headset, a quiet eye, and out of D's space.  D climbed aboard and Montana proceeded to walk around the ring, on the rail in both directions like he did it every. single. day.

We were both stunned.

He halted, changed direction, circled, and trotted laps around the arena without a single arguement.  He was the most willing little man I'd ever met, and I was so proud of him and happy for D that he had one of those rides where you can't help but grin afterwards.

It was a great confidence boost for D, and a reminder for me that sometimes we think we have all the right ideas when it comes to "fixing" a horse and at the end of the day it's usually something you've never considered that makes all the difference.  Like the fact that the horse really, really, enjoys being outside and downright hates the indoor.  D and I are both aware that just because we had one great lesson does not mean it will be sunshine and rainbows from here on out.  We're accepting of the fact that training horses is not linear and there will be good days with the bad.  It just feels pretty darn awesome to have a great day :)

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