How to handle disappointing circumstances with your horse

IMG_0913My title is actually a question… What is the proper way to handle disappointing circumstances with my horse? Mentally?  For most of our rides and workouts lately he is so phenomenal.  Attentive but laid back.  Sweet, no bucking and really happy.  Sometimes though, when we have a bad day I cannot help but get really down, think about how I contributed to it, and wonder if I did any kind of “setback” damage.  While I am in the ring with him I laugh sometimes because I am just like… he is being a goofball, scaring himself.  But then I am not sure what kind of pressure I should apply with our ground work.  I have a naturally soft presence with horses ( I think most of the time) and a soft hand and ask.  But sometimes I think he would do better with someone who had a calm firmer ask and presence.  But for me, that just doesn’t come naturally.  When I try to act like that my energy is all wrong and I just scare him and set him off.  I mean he is very good in terms of responding to the flag and moving away from me respectfully in those times, but he is not relaxed.  I have to get calm and really soft in order for him to get back to that place.

Sometimes  I wish I had more trustworthy horsey friends.  Then I wouldn’t have to complain to Astrid all the time when we have a bad day.  I am sure it gets annoying me being down in the dumps about a workout! I am in no way a perfectionist, but at the same time I hate thinking I hurt our progress but stupid circumstances.

Anyway… Since I last wrote.

I rode on Weds night and he was calm… I don’t really have too much written down about this workout.  But as far as I know it was calm and relaxed.  Then I had another wedding weekend, so I visited Chief Saturday morning, rode for a few minutes and then rode again on Sunday morning the 18th.  It was a really nice ride on Sunday! I was so relaxed and such a beautiful morning.  I remember feeling really connected and calm with him.  No goofy bridle stuff or steps away from the mounting block.  Some really good turn on the forehands, leg yields and upward transitions.  We rode a little bit out of the arena in the grass and he was super happy.  I felt so calm and secure riding him and definitely gave him a lot of pets and a sponge down.

Sticking with my 4 day a week ride attempt (It is hard with our crazy schedule)  I went to barn on weds the 22.  It was a little cooler than the other days, but just a really beautiful night.  A light breeze but so comfortable.    So after I saddled him up and groomed him we took a little hand walk around the fields.  I like hand walking him before I ride him around the property so when I ride with Astrid he is a little more comfortable with his surroundings.  We walked over to where the corn is growing and it was waving in the breeze a little which Chief didn’t mind at all. But he reached out and took a bite of the leaves growing on the corn, and when he broke it off the corn cobb swung back and bonked him on the nose.  So it was meltdown city for a few seconds after that.  He bucked and had a minor freakout, but the settled and stared at me like, “why did you attack me?”  We worked on some ground work, but as soon as I tightened his girth and showed him the flag he had a little bucking fit.  And the rest of the night took me like an hour to bring him back to a calm state.  I could have ridden him at that point, but we were losing daylight and I worry about him having poor eyesight.

So onto the next.  Later tonight we will see how he is! I think I will just be really gentle and start slow.  I wish I could pick Buck Brannaman’s brain for like 10 minutes.  We are going to see him at the end of September and I am so excited!  Maybe I can shake his hand or talk to one of his employees.  I would love to ride in one of his workshops, but I am so unfamiliar with Chief in different circumstances, I don’t know really how he would handle it!

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