It’s sand gnat season here in lovely low-country Georgia. We’ve got beautiful weather, at 80 degrees and sunny, but you have to share it with the beastly parasites. If you’ve never encountered sand gnats, let me paint a picture for you. It feels like a dust storm surrounding your body. You can’t brush it away, and they really like to crawl all over your scalp. If that wasn’t horrible enough, they bite. And, it’s not one of those “I don’t feel a thing” mosquito bites. Nope, it’s full-on horse-fly painful bite. You wouldn’t think something so miniscule could hurt so bad, but it’s enough to drive folks indoors when the gnats make a presence. Local businesses advertise various forms of ‘No-Gnatz’ or ‘Gnatz-Away’ or something to that extent, but it’s all deet-based, so you get that ‘fresh from the field’ scent. Military folks know what I’m talking about. I keep this stuff handy.
Once I had my bug barrier, I set out to ride.
Last night’s ride was promising. Johnny’s moving off my leg better, and we got some really nice leg yields at the walk and trot. He’s listening to my seat more, and it’s pretty awesome to shift my weight a little and feel his whole body respond–the way it’s supposed to be!! Unfortunately, he’s not really happy that I’m not making more demands of him in regards to contact. He’s not the kind of horse who goes, “Oh, she picked up the reins, I should soften my jaw and yield.” He’s the horse who goes, “Oh, no she didn’t just pick up those reins. How dare she ask me to yield to her? HA! I’ll show her–deal with this, lady!” as he juts his chin out. I’ve finally realized I’ve been being ‘nice’ and opening my fingers when he does this instead of offering him the same resistance he gives me. Funny–when it’s your horse, you tend to acquiesce a bit and do things like yield to the horse instead of asking him to yield to you. I don’t let other horses get away with this, but with Johnny, it’s always been me backing down to avoid his temper tantrums. Last night, I let him throw a temper tantrum. Every time he resisted, I closed my fingers and lifted my hands a la George Morris. Well, the fit hit the shan at one point, and he balked. I slapped my legs against his sides, tapped his butt with the dressage whip and said, “FORWARD, MARCH!!” So, we traipsed off through the woods, fully inverted, head in the air and resisting–half cantering, half trotting, mad as a bull. It didn’t take him long to realize, #1 that was not a comfortable way to move, and #2 I wasn’t going to give in any time soon. We came trotting back into the ‘arena’ in fine dressage-pony form: fully into the bridle, stepping lively and forward. His neck looked like Grand Prix pony–full at the base, nicely up and flexed at the poll. I got all excited, but he was far from being done with his shenanigans.
We probably worked halt-walk-halt for 30 minutes last night. All I wanted was upward and downward transitions without him jutting his chin out and racetrack starting. He’s trying to lean on me, and I’m telling him to carry his dang self. It’s a work in progress, but at least we’re making progress. I’m sure it would be helpful if I could’ve spent the injection money on dressage lessons…
On a funnier note, I tried carrying my cell phone in my sports bra last night, intending on providing a little mood music for our training session. Alas, flat-chested Eventer cannot carry her phone in this manner. On my second trot lap around the arena, I managed to catch my phone as it fell into my lap. So, I shoved it into my boot. That proved to be a failure as well. The hubs called, and I had to dig down to my ankle to fetch my phone. I don’t usually carry a phone when I ride–this is why.