Well, this is why I don't charge as much as other places. I haven't spent the 100 grand to put in an indoor arena, so I am subject to the whims of the weather. Most of my clients understand that, and work well with me on it.
So, that meant that Beaudreaux and Voodoo ended up with an extra long weekend though. Instead of only 2 days off, they had 3. Beaudreaux decided it was a good excuse to be BAD. I mean VERY bad. As I headed into the arena, he bolts past me and kicks out with both hind feet, at me. I had to dodge. Oh, that is SO not allowed!
The irony here is that I had him on a lunge just because I wanted to do some very nice and easy warm up work with him, because he had the long weekend. It's a good thing I did! I immediately put that boy to work, and worked him hard enough that he figured out his antics were NOT allowed. Yes, that was a very sweaty pony.
He tried to kick out at me a couple of times, but the rest were half hearted, and I was ready for it, so able to reprimand him (the ugly seagul noise, and drive forward) immediately. Once he was focused, and really regretting his bad manners, I climbed on.
It's things he does like this though, that confuse me. He goes from doing something very bad for a child or novice rider, to being a complete angel, within seconds. This makes it hard to answer some questions honestly, with out rambling on. Like, is Beaudreaux good for a novice rider? I'd have to say no, but I think he COULD be. He's just amazing 90% of the time.
Beaudreux got an equal amount of lunge work to correct the attitude, then we spent some time on standing at the mounting block and NOT walking off while I mounted (and I feel the burn from the ups and downs. I will have skinny thighs one day!) and with gait transitions. I am going to start playing with bits with him, as I think that might be a part of the problem. He ended up working for well over an hour and 15 minutes (I didn't get a chance to check the time when we started, because of the misbehavior) and the last 45 minutes was flawless in his effort. He never could consistently pick up the gait though. We did a lot of "step up" and pace, only to return to a walk, and "step up" again.
Because of the hollering and bellering coming from the barn, Voodoo got the second work out. Beaudreaux was turned out in his pasture, but he would NOT leave the gate. Instead he called to Black Boy the whole time.
We had a few seconds of him lolly gaggin at other things (like Beaudreaux screaming for Black Boy) but it was only seconds. For Voodoo this is a wonderful thing. He was dead on with his upwards transitions, his downward transitions were greatly improved, and he reversed perfectly.... from right to left. From left to right, we had some "oh, this isn't as easy" moments. All in all it was nothing but honest effort, and a good hearted horse.
The mounting issue returned. Remember those thighs of steel I talked about? Well, I forgot to mention that I also have no legs. Yes, Heather of the short legs here. So, first he wouldn't step up to the mounting block. When I went to stand beside him, he tried to turn away, or back away, or anything to prevent me from mounting. He stopped that pretty fast once the mounting block was out of the question. So up and down and up and down I went. When he would stand and be good, he was praised. When he was bad, he learned real fast that I can mount up while he's moving. Oh, he didn't like that.
We got him standing, and then I headed back to the mounting block. Yes, we learned again (!) that he has to stand there. Love, hugs, and kisses when he would. Work when he wouldn't. And, no, I will NOT post the picture of me standing on the mounting block, and him trying to walk off while I am mounting. It's not a pretty sight folks!
Now, standing to be mounted is one of Voodoo's known problems. We've been through this before, but he's not a stupid horse. If he thinks he can get out of work, well he'll sure try it!
Finally, he just gave up. Like all of a sudden there was a wonderfully mannered horse there, letting me climb up on him, and settle myself. He has a lovely sweet way of going, and is a joy to ride. The wind was kicking up though, and my arena sand was blowing in our faces, so we kept the work to some basics, which Voodoo needs anyway.
See, I believe that in so many cases, trainers push through the foundation work, and focus on the "fun" things. Walk is a sadly neglected gait, and mounting... that's something that I often have to deal with fixing. Unlike some trainers who say "we will be doing X by Y date" I take a different method. I'm sure this is from my classical dressage up bringing, but I was taught that you deal with what you have, and only move on when the horse is able.
He will listen to the aids, but he's very insecure on what they mean, so at this stage, any honest effort got him praise. Because his owner had just started learning this concept, and started with backing, Voodoo has that down very nicely. When he got confused, we went back to what he knew, and built on that. Of course, this is not glamourous work, cantering off into the sunset, but hey... it's why I make the "big bucks" right?
To end with, I decided to put on some more mounting. I figure, hey, we want to make sure this idea of standing still is THERE. Well, it was, but we ran into a few snags. Talked with his owner about how to go from here, and what she wants to do, and it looks like we're on the same page.
From there, I had plenty of daylight left to work BB! Yep, good as gold. This is going to be a boring report, but BB was a doll. He tried everything I asked, he loved his pampering, but like Beaudreaux, he keeps missing the gait transitions. I have to say, I am not a fan of riding the pace. Wow is that weird! BB is at the point where the bad behavior is gone (seems to be... where's some wood for me to knock on before I jinx myself?) and we can start working on a correct and proper gait, and his saddle aids. This horse is a good horse, but he's going to be ridden by an adult novice. He needs to have everything SOLID. I can't tell you how many times we went from walk to a gait, back to walk. These are a variation of the yo-yo I use. The main part of a mature horse chosing the right gait, is the transition. BB prefers to have his face free (which is strange for a walker, most need to be bridled up, or collected) but he also has to have the proper amount of forward. Too much, and he gets pacey, too little, and he won't gait. We seem to have worked through the "I don't wanna" thing he had yesterday, and ended up with a lovely work session today. Sorry, no pictures today, as my camera person headed back inside. I haven't yet learned to take pictures of myself riding a horse!
And the rain held off. As you can see, it was grey, cloudy, and gross... and I kept checking the weather channel, but thankfully, it looks like we have a lovely week ahead of us to get some work done!