No more Mrs. Nice Guy

The concept sounds deceivingly simple enough: ride forward from the leg into the receiving hands. Makes it sound like you can just squeeze your legs together, softly restrict your hands, and the horse will willingly step further underneath himself, thus lightening his forehand and loading his haunches. If, however, it truly were that simple, we’d all be Grand Prix riders, and where would the fun be in training?
I tell you, I’ve ridden it in my head countless times; and, in my head, it goes so beautifully: Johnny surges forward with energy, pushing from his haunches into the contact of my receiving hand. Elegant lightness ensues, with tons of springy impulsion. Somehow, though, the translation is lost in the saddle. I’m willing to take my fair share of the blame–after all, there are no problem horses, only problem riders, right? But, Johnny’s no dummy. He knows what I’m asking means more work, and not easy work at that. He’s learned to subtly put up a fight so I’m left concentrating on how to fix his resistance instead of containing the energy. I’ve learned a few tricks of my own along the way, but it’s time to up the ante. It’s time for Johnny to step up, and I’m laying down the law. Yesterday was the beginning, and we had a few good moments. I got a really good working trot along the long side and across the diagonal before he gave up. When the roar turns to wheezing, I know he’s reached his breaking point, and it’s time for a break. I cannot tell you how tempting it is to trailer him over to Auburn and put that tie-back surgery on the credit card. The only restraint is knowing Ryan would probably kick me out of the house and force me to live in the barn until the credit card was paid off (and since I’m not working, that move might be permanent). In the meantime, we’ll have to manage what he can handle and still push him beyond his comfort zone. Today should be interesting–I’m going in with the tough cop attitude, and I’m not giving in.

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