The reason I always ask “what am I doing that isn’t right” when Tarma’s not responding the way I’ve come to expect it’s cause it’s pretty much always a me problem. Yesterday was a good example. Tarma actually came up to me in the pasture instead of waiting for me to hike out to her, so at least the afternoon started on a high note. Both horses (my son is riding my friend’s gaited gelding Cody, who now boards with us!) were chill for tacking up, which is always helpful.
Kade walked the horses for their warm up laps while I set up some ground poles, then we both hopped on. Tarma was quiet and chill until I was aboard, then she was instantly distracted and checked out. There’s a gelding recently off stall rest in the pasture next to the indoor, and he was in full on flirt mode, doing his best to get Cody and Tarma to pay attention to him. Cody didn’t care but boy did Tarma did. Bending? Walking away from the end of the arena? Listening to me at all? No thanks lady, I’m busy!
It’s frustrating and humbling to come off a steak of good to awesome rides and get stuck with a struggle, trying to meet her where she’s at and also expecting (hoping) for some effort from her. I did my best to find some good notes, to ask her to clue back into me. She wasn’t dangerous or trying to get me off, just not paying any attention to what I asked until I let her run into a wall. I was asking her to, you know, turn and she said no, I’m busy making flirty faces with that big hunk over there, so she ran into the wall instead. Alrighty then. She did start to check in a bit after that, though I wouldn’t call this ride good. We ended on an okay note, asking her to whoa with just my voice and seat (mostly).
Of course once I untacked and went to check the fit of the Wintec, I found out it’s all wrong and pinching her shoulders. This saddle fit well enough to get us through an LD in October, but clearly she’s changed shape in the last few months. I’ve been riding almost entirely in the Synergist since then so I didn’t notice. See now how I’m usually the problem? This can be the downside of having goals, I’m focused on ensuring she’s fit enough for whatever the coming season holds that I can forget to work with the horse I have that day. We did end on a quiet and forgiving note, as I fussed over her feet and did some basic treat stretches which she always enjoys.
Even on these days we don’t quite connect or hit the high notes, I know we’re a steady partnership, she brings all the marbles (mostly) and I bring all the problem solving abilities (mostly). And treats, of course. She’s also so gosh darned pretty, even wet and muddy from the winter pasture. I’m keeping my sights set on a 30 mile at Grizzly Mountain (three months exactly!) there’s plenty of time, her base is solid and the days are getting longer.