As is usually the case, I couldn't identify what made this night different than others. Weather was fine, he had been turned out, etc. Except for one thing. There was an actual monster in the ring. The kind of monster that a horse such as Fawkes just cannot tolerate. The kind of monster that makes grown men quiver in their boots and grown horses head for the hills.
It was a 5 year old girl in a princess dress being ponied around the ring.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, IT'S A DEMON!
|And while we are talking about it, that jump looks pretty sketchy too|
So we got to work a lot on dealing with and defusing the spookiness. Getting me to not react and tense up is definitely a big part in ending the drama. The primary spook zone was a corner, so we worked on being prepared, getting the correct bend before the spooky area and quickly rewarding him for obedience. When he transferred his spookiness to over fences work (a specialty of his is getting spooky about one thing and then freaking out about everything), we made it boring. Jump, canter 1900 circles, trot 19800 more circles. Walk. Jump. Repeat. Hopefully helping him learn to relax.
I technically know all this stuff, but damn Fawkes knows how to press my buttons and it helps me so much to hear it from the ground. Also, keep putting more tools in the tool box.
On the plus side, he was dead honest to the jumps. He wanted to channel his spookiness into running through the exercises (a 4 bounce cavaletti on one side and two one-stride fences on the other) instead of running away from the fences and that is a problem I feel much more capable of dealing with.
It was a trot into the one stride line and I could not for the life of me ride well into the first fence. Nothing major went wrong it just always felt a little off. Luckily we always hit the second and third beautifully. If you can't start well at least recover well. I suppose.
R commented that she is happy with how my eq is coming along, so that is good. I am still not sure I feel that different yet, but my body is always the last to realize things.
After I hopped off, I asked the little girl if she would give my horse a treat - he would willingly let a demon near him for a peppermint. He seemed less freaked by her after that although he still kept one eye on her just in case.
Freak snow storm dampened my plans to ride today, so will instead try for a double header this weekend.