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July 9, 2014: Lessons Learned: Quitting isn’t an Option

Lesson at Beth’s last night, after a long ride (time wise) at Jim Creek. Before going into the arena, I considered telling Beth that I might have to make it a short lesson because I suspected that Raudi/Rosie would be tired. But once in the arena, I thought better of this. Rosie was full of energy. Early on, in fact, Beth remarked that she was “very forward.”

The term piss and vinegar was most fitting. We began by going over ground poles. There were three of us. We practiced working on what Beth called square corners, using the inside rein and the outside leg. It quickly became apparent to me that Rosie was not

listening to me because her corners were round instead of square. She was, in essence, diving into the corners using her front rather than her rear legs.

Next, we went over a single small cross jump. Rosie went fast, jumped high, and I was nearly left behind. I also had too tight a grip on the reins. We next were asked to do a series of jumps, with Rosie and me taking the lead. We did as asked – did a few jumps. Rosie then began rushing, so I had the person behind me get in front of me.

It was in going around the arena in preparation to do another series of jumps that Pete came walking along the driveway with Hrimmi in hand. She saw Rosie and neighed. Rosie neighed back. I yelled at Pete to get Hrimmi out of the area. In passing Beth, Beth said that I should focus on what was in the arena. I took Rosie around the arena again, and she bolted, straight ahead, in the direction of now long gone Pete and Hrimmi. I somehow got her to stop. She began throwing herself around. I leapt off her back. My thinking was that I should get her out of the arena, immediately.

Beth instead suggested that I lunge Rosie. I got the lunge line. Megan, one of the younger students, went to assist me in hooking up the lunge line, but I said in a curt voice that I knew what I was doing. I took her to the far end of the enclosure, and I began lunging her. She went fast, very fast. I went to turn her around, and she pulled away, taking the lead out of my hands. In seconds, she began mixing it up with the other horses.

Beth grabbed the line and lunged Rosie. Rosie also broke away from her. Beth retrieved her and did this again, this time making her go over a cavalletti. Rosie refused a few times, but then gave in, and began behaving nicely. Beth suggested that I lunge Rosie for a bit, which I did. This time, she did not attempt to get away. I got back on her and rode her around the arena, at a walk, being careful to stay out of the way of the other horses. Rosie was now calm, so I rejoined the group, who were by now in the process of going over multiple jumps.

When it was my turn, Beth suggested that I do the two outer cross jumps. So this is what I did. Rosie took the two jumps nicely. When it was again my turn, I did the same again. This time Rosie did even better, jumping high, yet remaining in control. I rejoined the group. Beth then said that because Rosie had done well, that we should call it good. I went to leave, but Beth said to stick around and watch the lesson.

The above is what observers would have seen had they been watching a video minus the dialogue. But in reality, there was an ongoing discussion going on between Beth and me. Her comments to me about Rosie’s blowout were positive, direct, forthright, and easy to follow through with. And most began with the phrase “you know what I liked?”

Beth was quick to say that I was right to have told Pete to get Hrimmi out of the area, because I somehow knew that (in my words) Rosie was going to blow up. She also said that she was impressed by the fact that I somehow knew when it was okay to get back on Rosie—that I must have had an intuitive sense about this. And, of course she was pleased that Rosie did so well when we did resume jumping.

There was much that I didn’t say to Beth though I thought it. This was because I think it’s best to listen to instructors rather than continue to chat it up. My sense was that I erred in several instances. For one thing, I ought to have immediately turned my attention in the direction of keeping Rosie in check when Pete walked by rather than continue to dwell on his mistake. And I had time to do this – she did give me the twenty second warning. I also should have listened to Meagan, who was right in suggesting that I attach the end of the lunge line to the bridle, put it over Rosie’s poll, and pull it through the ring on her bit.

All this was bad, bad, bad. What I did right was stay in the arena. I did not then, and I do not know now why I stayed put. And this will probably always remain a mystery to me. Maybe I knew what Beth was most likely thinking that my leaving the arena would undo a lot of good training for what Rosie would realize was that I was rewarding her permissible bad behavior. And I would also be affirming in my own mind that quitting is a permissible gesture.

Instead, I stuck it out, and continued on with the lesson. And after, I felt good about the outcome. Heck, Rosie and I concluded on a good note by doing two nice jumping rounds.

It’s amazing; it really has come to be. Rosie and I are moving forward, and as I hoped, in the process we are both learning some very important life lessons.

Lessons learned:

  • Remain genuinely positive, in all instances.
  • Listen to others and let them give an assist when under duress.
  • Don’t quit. Don’t quit. Don’t quit.
  • Get back on that horse when you sense things are right. Because then, most likely they are right.
  • Keep in mind when things go awry in the arena that this is fortuitous. This is because things can better be learned and dealt with there as opposed to the much larger trail setting.

Next: 188. 7/10/14: Horse and Horse Facility