At the beginning of this year, things were a bit hectic for me. The school horse I leased over the summer had a dicey readjustment to school life, some of my classes were looking grim, and to top it all off, I was put on the new horse, whom I have nicknamed Ernesto.
Ernie is not the most attractive horse on the face of the planet, and we’ll just leave it at that, but aside from his outward appearance he just wasn’t the kind of horse we really thought would adjust well. He was anxious, and paces in his stall so much that he has worn tracks in the bedding by the end of the day. He was also rather ADHD. I will freely admit that I disliked him from the moment I haltered him. I disliked him even more when I tried to lunge him and he spooked 4 separate times –for no discernible reason– before I had even clipped the chain to his halter. He took a lot of leg to be encouraged to bend, and he challenged my weaknesses as a rider to a point that I no longer found riding him to be constructive. And the few times we took him over fences were just plain scary. And I don’t scare easy.
I’ve been off of Ernesto for a few weeks now, and had been switched to a very sweet, responsive (but strangely-built) horse named Sid. So when I walked into the barn today and saw my name next to Ernie’s on the ride list, I will admit it kinda took the wind out of my sails. Luckily, I needn’t have worried.
Ernie was a different horse. Sure, bending was still a challenge, and he got over-excited at times, but he had put himself together enough that he was once again a fun, reasonable challenge to ride. I had a blast. Turns out that all we needed to do was give him some extra turn out and a period of just walk/trot work to get himself calmed down and convinced that we actually WEREN’T all there to eat him. Just those simple things turned him from a horse I dreaded to ride into a horse I would actually willingly ride again.
So if you’re having a difficult time with a horse, just remember to take a step back, breathe deep, and remember that sometimes it just takes time.