This last year has been a huge year of transition with Apollo & I. Actually… I would even stretch that to the last two years. Here are some things that have changed:
1) My confidence improved
2) We got a saddle that works for both us
3) I began to expect more of him
4) He began to test me (read: bolting at the mounting block and other sassiness)
5) We took lessons with Coach D and recently two lessons with ST (after many years without lessons)
6) I transitioned to a life of riding three horses (goodbye time and monies)
7) Apollo doesn’t get as much attention as he used to when I he was my sole riding horse
For a while I have thought about Apollo adding “husband horse” into his job description. We will still lesson and continue to improve together but I would really like to ride with husband/other horses friends sometimes. I’ve put in a solid effort to trail ride him more often and to make him quieter (which mostly is just a consistent riding schedule). But I kind of hit a wall. There are two things that I can’t really seem to get past.
Baggage and incompatibility. Let me explain a bit!
So when I say baggage I mean that over our 10 years together some things have gone wrong (as in any partnership), and I have trouble forgetting them sometimes. I particularly struggled when the mounting block issues came up last summer, as that was always a point of anxiety for me. I feel like I am 95% past it but it still lingers in my brain. Only recently have I started wearing my new samshield helmet when I ride him. For a long time I let that 5% of mistrust around the mounting block tell me that I shouldn’t wear my new samshield when I rode him because I might fall on it and I can't afford a new one. In my lesson on Apollo with ST last weekend she commented: “It’s very confusing to me that you will jump and canter around on green bean Henry but you are so nervous to canter Apollo on a looser rein.” And I think the reason for that is baggage, as part of me still remembers bolty/crowhoppy Apollo at the canter and doesn’t 100% trust that he won’t do that.
And when I say incompatibility I mean that Apollo would probably really like to go fast. And I would really like to travel at a low rate of speed. I am getting braver (go me!) so I feel like this struggle for us will continue to improve. But riding a more-who-than-go Henry has made me feel so brave (#slowsoulmates) and that has made it so clear to me that Apollo and I are very mismatched in terms of our preferences for speed of travel. I hope to keep bridging this gap and to become the rider he needs. I can’t help but feel a little guilty that I know he would have more fun with a human who would want to hop on and go for a gallop.
Apollo is totally my heart horse and I had to make a difficult decision in order for us to move forward. I decided to send him for 30 days with RK (the wonderful guy who trained Henry). They will focus on trail miles. RK doesn’t have 10 years of baggage with Apollo. RK doesn’t mind going for a good gallop sometimes. He is super kind and I know he will show Apollo how to be a good trail pony for me and my husband. I’m really excited to hear his insights.
It’s been harder on me than I went I sent the babies to be started. I cried after I dropped him off on April 30 and although I've been visiting it's been a bit tough for me. I have been his rider for 10 years and have very rarely shared him. Its super weird for me to think someone is riding him when I’m not there. And I got a fair bit of judgement from some of my horsey people IRL too. I trail ride Mystic bareback…. So why can’t I get my old horse quiet enough on the trail to share with other people? Which kind of makes me feel like a failure in my work with Apollo. But I feel like training with RK is worth a try and could really improve our relationship going forward so I’m willing to try! J