One mindset that I always try to keep is that during riding, when something is going wrong, most of the time it is the riders fault. This is why I have been so frustrated with Mr P when I ride him. But today, we had progress!
For the first time since before winter break I rode Mr P on my own, with no one watching me. I was super excited because I feel like when I'm by myself I can take more time to process things and actually visualize what I am going to do.
Usually during the week riders are allowed in the arena after 9, before 9 they usually have horses inside the arena either doing some therapy work or just giving the horses time to stretch their legs. I had arrived early to work and apparently forgot about this because I had done most of the chorse, groomed Mr P up, and was ready to tack up before 8:30. I checked to see if the arena was being used and it was. I was so excited to ride that this kind of annoyed me because I knew Mr P would get more antsy the longer he stayed in his stall, even though he had plenty of hay and I really didn't want to trun him back out. So I hand walked him for a bit and then tacked him up around 9:05. I got to the arena and it was still being used, which annoyed me even more. The arena wasn't cleared until 9:15.
Finally I got into the arena and walked Mr P around. I could already tell that we were going to have our hands full during this ride. He was ignoring me on the ground and I had to smack him good a few times to get him to halt when I stop and to back up. Needless to say it took me 3X longer than I wanted to actually mount up. Please horse can you just put your brain on?
I walked him around and right off I could tell he was going to be super gate sour. I really wanted to work on a nice long rein especially to warm up, but since he wasn't listening to my leg aids I felt like I had to shorten them up right off. Probably not the best call on my part but I had to do what I thought was correct for the situation. There came one part where I almost called it quits because he was being such a dork face and I didn't feel like I could safely handle the situation. But I got him to at least stop, calmed my self down, and just told myself that I can't hop off it will just reinforce his behavior, so I stayed on and rode through it.
By this time I didn't feel like I could be productive on a long rein so I kept them a little short. I decided that as soon as Mr P put his attention on the gate, I would stop him and wouldn't even let him have a chance to go towards the gate. Did I always suceed? No. Most of the time he was able to get to the other wall of the arena and break at the shoulder before I could stop him, and sometimes I even had to turn him in a circle in the opposite direction to get him going in the correct direction.
Eventually, by the end of the ride, I had Mr P going around in nice 20m circles on a long rein. I was super proud of myself, and of him of course. The next task after we master circles away from the gate is to be able to do serpentines towards the gate on a long rein.
I guess this would be a great time to say that I am not a trainer, and I am not always sure if my ways of tackling situations are right. Trust me, in the back of my mind I am always worried that I'm going to ruin this horse, but I never do things that seem like abuse and if something isn't working I try to switch tactics. I post my stories to share my experiences and also to receive constructive criticism.
Thank you for reading :)