Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes, you have to know when to quit.

Ever get into a training situation where it all started out great and then you hit a point of diminishing returns? That was what happened to Rugby and I yesterday. In all fairness to the Big Guy, it was not his fault and I would have expected no less from him at this stage of his education.

The weather here has been very random with all the influence from hurricane Bill. It downpours while the sun is merrily shining, the clouds thicken up and the humidity is miserable, then the sun comes back out and heats it all up into a muggy mess. So my window of opportunity to work with the horse has been very weather dependent. Yesterday, we had a family occasion to go to around 5:00PM and the morning was busy so the only time I had to squeeze in a bit of training was at 3:00PM. Not much time by my standards and too close to feeding time but I figured I'd try.

So I arrive at the barn, shlep all my gear to my stall, walk down to the paddocks and collect my horse and get him brushed and tacked to do our groundwork before riding. He was willing and working quite well but I knew we were running out of time. I could have rushed it and tried to get mounted but something told me to finish the groundwork the way I am comfortable with it and see if I could ride.

Well, I watched it start to unravel as he noticed the horses being brought in from turn-out. He was distracted by them but could be directed back to the exercises quite easily. It was when the Sunday bran mash was being served a few minutes later that I lost him, and not in a bad or explosive way, I just watched my horses' concentration evaporate in front of me! I'd back him up and he kept turning to look at the barn. He'd forget to stand still and wait for my cue to move and then get sent back to stand again. I asked him to flex to the side and then he'd start walking in a circle instead of standing still. I knew riding was not going to be happening. I didn't want to continue to push his patience, especially at this level of his schooling. I knew if I tried to ride he could very well lose it from frustration and it was a scenario I chose not to risk.

So we wrapped it up with a few of the most simple exercises, I gathered up my unused helmet and bridle and walked him back into the barn. He kept it together long enough for me to unsaddle him and lead him quietly into the stall. He even lowered his head like he's been taught to have his halter removed and then submerged his face in his bran mash!

I let him chow down and when he was done, I took him out and sponged the sweat off him. It wasn't the session I had hoped for but given the circumstances, it all went okay. I'm hoping to get there and ride tonight!


Anonymous said...

That's not bad - you ended in a good place with some simple stuff he could do successfully - and you learned about some holes in his training, which as you say is to be expected at this point. The fact that you didn't push it is fine - in fact better than fine.

Ride (or work with) the horse you have today (not the horse in your mind).

wilsonc said...

I get those kinds of days quite often actually. It's all that trying to do my riding in between and around everything else. That's why I love the days I can just spend at the barn and do nothing else. They are, of course, few and far between.

Jean said...

Frustrating to be sure, but at the same time, you did accomplish something, and Rugby learned he needed to listen to you even when his stomach was calling.

I have had some very food oriented horses and some non-food oriented horses. Fortunately, now that I have the Boys at home, I can control when they are fed and adjust my training schedule accordingly. Not so easy when you board out.

And what horse could resist the call of Sunday mash? Give Rugby some time to grow up and grow into his training. You did the right thing by not pushing it.

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Once Upon an Equine said...

Good for you for ending on a good note and realizing the dinner bell is a strong call to young Rugby. He was probably afraid all the other horses would eat his bran mash.