The crab and I are trucking right along getting to know one another.
On Monday we had a short discussion about bridling and then visited the mounting block for a while. We played with clicker training at the mounting block but finally Sebastian made it clear he was just going to keep stepping that right hind away from the block when I got up there. So I brought out a stick and tapped him on the right haunch when he stepped aside, which resulted in Sebastian suggesting that I never ever ever visit the right side of his body ever again. After we got past that ridiculous offer, I gave him another cookie while I stood on the mounting block, he crunched on it while I got on, and then looked at me like “Oh well if that’s all you wanted, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I got off and on a few more times then called it good.
On Tuesday, we did the same thing. Bridle a few times, visit the mounting block a little, casual walk around the arena, lots of clicks and treats. I also started clicking for hoof picking (less Spanish walk, more civilized school pony please) and that stuck immediately.
On Wednesday I dashed out after work for more of the same. This time I tried to really consciously relax my seat and thighs, as Sebastian had jigged and fallen into the trot more and more often in our rides. I suspected I might be clamping on a little bit too much and conveying too much energy to him, and I was partially right. A more relaxed seat led to more relaxed pony. We meandered around the arena and I practiced steering just with the movement of my hips. I visited the far end of the arena a lot and after a calm walk circle there would get off, give the crab a cookie, and walk back to the mounting block for another go. I wanted Sebastian to think of all parts of the arena as neutral (not gate = cookie = good / far corner = spooky wet patch = scary, something I picked up at a Tik Maynard talk last year).
Thursday evening I ran out to drop off some things and stuff cookies in Sebastian’s face before returning home to sit in front of the fireplace (because the PNW is fucking cold and damp and I can’t ride in that shit every day ffs).
Did you catch that? My basically day-by-day recounting of time at the barn?! I just slipped back into making time for the barn every day like I haven’t been a less-than-fifty-percent-time-er for the last 2.5 years. Yes, the pony continues to be fun and we are enjoying ourselves getting to know one another. Almost as much as that, I’m enjoying being an every-day-barn-person again! I did not realize how much of my life was just zapped away from me when Murray went into retirement and I became horseless. Even with a half lease, it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t just duck out to the barn to dawdle around and talk to my friends and look at my cute horse — I mean, I guess I could have and just never did? It would definitely have been weirder to go to the barn on not-my-riding-day to hang out with not-my-horse. Whatever the mental block was, it existed.
I didn’t realize quite how much I missed it. I knew that I missed having control of my own horse and getting to make all the decisions not being beholden to anyone else’s schedule. And I knew I missed not getting to ride every day and make a training plan and track progress in a specific way. But there was definitely a “getting to the barn every day” feeling that I missed, and that I’m very glad to have back.