This last week has been a whirlwind! I have been working out and riding quite a bit and I've also picked up a few extra shifts (yay monies!). This post is quite long as it's actually three half-written posts combined into one.
I had two visits with Henry this week. He really seems to be thriving at the trainer's place now. Spoiler alert: I rode him yesterday! :D
I continue to be happy with my decision to send Henry to RK for training. He’s a very patient and thoughtful man. He’s more into natural horsemanship stuff that I initially realized but I think that might be a good thing for Henry.
Henry’s training has been a lot different than Mystic’s training (which is all I really have to compare it to!). And comparing Henry and Mystic to each other is also kind of an apples vs. oranges conversation. She is a sensible independent mare. He’s a wiggly noodle. Mystic’s trainer is an eventer who is super brave and moves into the riding portion quicker than I expected. RK is more natural horsemanship/trail riding focused and moves at a more relaxed pace.
RK refers to Henry as an introvert. He says that initially Henry would completely shut down (stop moving) when there is even light pressure applied through an aid. RK is working on building up his confidence and trying to get Henry to “think through” rider aids/questions rather than just shutting down. I’ve never really thought of Henry as an introvert. He’s always untying himself and getting into trouble. He’s also kind of a pushy busybody. But when I thought about the first time I tried to load him in a trailer....it made sense.
I walked Henry up to the trailer... and he laid down. He didn’t sniff the trailer or look inside. He just said “nooope.” I’ve loaded a lot of young/rude creatures into trailers. I’ve have never seen a horse just lay down, at least not without trying a few other evasions first (like sideways or upwards!).
Henry’s lay down wasn’t even a “eff you” lay down. It’s just a simple “No, I cannot handle this. Goodbye.”. He loads perfectly now but I think part of his nature is just to shut down when things are scary. It couldn’t have been a fun start to life as a four month old colt in a feedlot (for at least at month or two). So that could be part of where it comes from, or it could just be how he is.
I want to be riding a thinking horse that’s paying attention and confident. So I’m glad that RK is working on Henry’s lack of confidence rather than just pushing him through riding training. I said to RK from day one that I didn’t think Henry would be the easiest horse (because he’s quite strange in his way of approaching life) and that I was in no rush for him to be finished.
My own personal feelings about Henry’s training were completely different than I expected. When I decided to send him for training I was frustrated with him. He was a bit spoiled and pushy, with an aptitude for untying himself/getting into various mischief. I felt like I had failed to teach him to be a good citizen (and was kind of mad at myself about that). I was happy/relieved to the pass the responsibility of training him on to someone else. But my feelings have changed a lot since I first dropped him off.
Because I like lists so much, I made the one below.
Things I Did Not Expect During Henry’s First Month of Training ....
1) How much I missed him. Like a creepy amount. I flip through old pictures of him at my desk at work all the time. When I walk into Apollo’s field my eyes would still look for Henry and my ears would listen for his flailing hoofbeats to come running up behind me when I was leading Apollo. It actually surprised me quite a bit how much I missed him.
2) I became a helicopter parent. Remember how I said I was happy to pass the responsibility of training him on to someone else? Yep.... but sending gigantic e-mails about his training/diet/blakenting is cool right? And visiting once or twice a week when I planned to visit once a month...?
3) I got drunk on dreams. Seeing how beautifully he moved after his osteopath treatment I started to have some crazy ambitions float through my mind. Anywhere from prelim eventing to show jumping. Yeah.... I don’t really know that I want to do either of those things. But good idea to have ridiculous dreams for the horse I was planning to sell/share the ride on....??!!
4) He still whinnies at me. I thought that RK would be the center of his world (he feeds him now!) and he wouldn’t really respond to me in the same way. But as soon as I say his name he whinnies and walks/trots/flails over to greet. *ALL THE FEELS*
RK mentioned on Wednesday that I could come out and ride him on the weekend if I wanted. So yesterday I did!
RK hopped on him in the round pen bareback first. Henry looked so fancy! He had one small spook (the crazy wind was blowing things against the arena's walls) but recovered well. Then RK put the saddle on and showed me some of Henry's lateral work and trot.
Then it was my turn!
We just walked but he felt amazing! He seemed to really know his job and I felt like he was trying his best to be a good boy. RK put an english saddle on him for me. He said that "since you trimmed his mane and tail, I figured you would prefer an english saddle...." which made me laugh!
His movement felt lovely. He has more spring to his step and more movement through his back than my draft crosses.
I gave Henry many cookies and pats for being such a good boy. I could tell he was pleased with himself. Next weekend RK is going to take us on a trail ride, which I am super excited about!
I got a bit emotional as I drove away from Henry's barn yesterday. It's been such a journey with Henry. To see him grow up from 6 month old untouched baby to an almost 4-year old gelding going nicely under saddle is nothing short of amazing. There have been some tough moments but it's pretty cool to see how far we have both come :)