I finally rode Eli four days IN A ROW. He was pretty lit up for 3 of those days, but finally great to ride by day 4. That’s really all it takes — regular work, and he’s a dream. Fall out of that schedule for whatever reason and he gets spooky and nervous. He’s never exactly bad, just worried, but that makes him pretty unpleasant to ride at times. His focus in those cases is definitely not on rider aids.
In the hopes of helping Eli through getting back into regualr work, I changed up our tack set up a bit. The biggest change is switching out the Ogilvys for a Back on Track AP pad and a full sheepskin Thinline Trifecta. Luckily, I already had these things on hand, as I periodically use them for Eli. This is one of those times.
He gets today off because he had a dental appointment this morning, and I really can’t imagine riding any horse immediately after they have dental work. I am sure some people do, but I am not one of them. I am also hoping that some of Eli’s fussiness in the bridle will dissipate after this appointment, as that has been the case in the past. He’s really just gotta have his teeth done every 6 months.
I suspect I will still be relying on the longe line for the time being with Eli. Maybe once the time changes and I can ride in daylight during the week again, I’ll be able to just hop on. At least he has finally learned to respond to voice commands! And this gives him a chance to bounce around a bit without me on him. He tries so hard to do what I ask when I am on him, and I think for right now we have to balance our energy levels out a bit before I get on. I am usually exhausted from work, and Eli is the polar opposite in the evenings when it’s chilly and dark. And of course if I am tense at all or I start to lose my temper out of frustration, it’s better to just get off than ride through my own shortcomings — that’s just not very fair to my horse. If I give Eli a chance to snort it out on the longe first, I feel a lot better about getting on him and I have those few minutes to unwind myself. It’s still not my favorite and it’s one of those things that is so easy to overuse but I know in this case it’s temporary.
I am really glad I had such a good ride on Eli on Sunday (without longeing) because I was about to start throwing every diagnostic tool in existence at him to see if something physically amiss was going on, even though he looks very sound and feels pretty even right now. I don’t actually think anything is wrong, and Sunday pretty much demonstrated that. When he is relaxed, he is so easy to ride! We trotted over some extremely low jumps and he stayed pretty quiet, so maybe we can get back on track over fences, soon, too. Dare I say, we might have a lesson? Is that too much to expect?