Tonight’s writing inspired by this facebook post and finding wine in the pantry.
When I first started riding Murray we had all kinds of problems. Going in a straight line problems. Using the corners problems. Turning problems. Circle problems. Square problems. And those are just the steering problems. Let us not talk about the problems associated with contact, gait, or jumping. Oh yeah, and tacking up. That little thing.
(Look, we were so good at dressage!!!!!!!!!)
We have had so many problems. But those problems have changed a lot over the 2+ years that Murray and I have been together. More to the point, those problems have changed qualitatively to better problems.
Seriously, I no longer have to struggle just to go deep in the corners or turn left when I want to. I mean, sure, sometimes it’s hard to turn left, but it’s not because Murray is like “WTF IS TURNING”, it’s because he knows that a left twist in my body doesn’t always mean “go that way” it might just mean “move your shoulders that way”. My problems these days have to do with getting my horse to really stretch over his back and use his whole body correctly, not just getting him to relax for one or two steps at a time. Or using his body evenly on both sides, and not just compensating for his right-side tension with his left side. Or trying to get the bend and lateral movement right to school half pass — oh yeah, we can school half pass now. It’s not beautiful. In fact, it’s down right ugly heading left. But we can school that shit.
And bucking. Still sometimes bucking.
I literally do not even care that the last time we jumped we struggled to get over an X without rushing/bolting/pushing/balking/garbage, because I know that we can get past that. We have before, and we will again. (And also, I sound like Sprinkler Bandit.)
And all the other little stuff is just noise. Porpoising because I asked him to go forward? Fine. We’re going to go forward no matter what, porpoise or not. It’s a hell of a lot more forward than a year ago when we had those fights, or two years ago when we had those fights. When Murray’s trot strides were about six inches long and staying round through a shoulder-in was a world-class problem.
It’s a neat way to think about training. There will always be problems, or holes, or struggles, or room for improvement — whatever you want to call it — but those holes get a) smaller and b) cooler. How cool is it to have a problem with half pass, when before you couldn’t even do shoulder-in? How cool is it to struggle to open the canter to a 2’6″ fence when you previously found yourself buried to everything? PRETTY COOL.
Training a horse is really, really cool. Sometimes, you just have to be okay with lots and lots of problems.