It is now November and SBG has moved with his two Uncles (no actual relation, but you know, there really isn't a good description for this. Friends? Comrades? partners in crime?) to a new barn. A beautiful new barn where he has a lovely large in/out, great care and lovely hay in the perfect quantities. His friend(s) are there too so he settles right in.
You can see why he is still being called the SBG in this picture. He is not large. He is also channeling Tina Turner still with the mane.
There are many fields at this new barn which will come into play next summer (now in fact, but we are not caught up yet in this story) but until then there is also a laneway behind the paddocks where they can hand graze all year. Although we are not interested in standing out there in the rain, or wind, or snow. SBG is, of course, always interested in going out there.
SBG is great in the new ring and we continue to pick away daily at our basic W/T/attempted canter. The problem is, remember the being too chicken to kick part? it has come back to bite us. He is pleasant to ride, so long as he is ridden how HE wants to be ridden which is no contact, no leg, no asking anything and kind of steering as long as the plan is also interesting to him.
I still do not have canter. I need help. If I attempt to canter I get a large buck and a begrudging canter for a few strides. It is SO not working. I call in reinforcements in the shape of a really good friend (AR or Amazing Rider) who starts young horses for a living. "please come help me canter" which she laughs at and dutifully attends the next day.
Thankfully, for my morale, he does the same thing to her. Also thankfully, she is stronger and braver than I am and kicks him forward. He now canters under saddle in a semi calm manner with less fuss than before.
I am now ready for Amazing Coach to meet him! She possibly still thinks I am insane for picking him, but really he kind of picked me. She also knows I like unconventional horses (and Friesians) and the underdog appeals to me. Plus, I need to be able to sit my horse without taking Pilates 3 times a day. Last, but not least, I have an itty bitty budget 10 times less than the cost of your average youngster import but upper level aspirations. She humors me at least and I think was relieved to see we had 3 clean gaits and a pleasant expression to work with.
AC (Amazing Coach) attends and he appears good as gold in his first lesson.
HOWEVER, Amazing Coach knows me very well. She knows I am not actually riding my horse and I am basically along for the ride. She instructs me to start riding him, you know, USE aids. Use aids I think to myself, hmm yes I think I will start actually asking things of the SBG. Maybe even put leg on and stop perching. <gasp> maybe I will even touch his mouth. Up to this point he is soft. But not the soft of an experienced on the contact horse. Soft as in there is zero in my hands at any time yet he still wants to curl. Soft like when he decides to do a fast exit left or right because something is scary I am left with zero control. Nada. Nothing. Just an "Oh Poop" strap that I always forget to use and a hope he will stop running sideways soon.
I begin to add aids. He rebels. As one might expect from a recently started 4 yr old in the December cold who has not been let in on the fact that he is not the boss. 2 rides get progressively worse as he becomes emotional (a term the AR used for him) when corrected and I fear for my safety and sanity and I am not having fun.
Rule #1 it must be fun. It does not ALL have to be fun, but the majority of it does. I also backpack. I have spent lots of money to buy small light things to strap on my back and go out in the wilderness to live like a homeless person in a tent. Not all of the backpacking experience is fun. But enough of it is fun and it is also quite fun once it is over. Young horses are like that. It must be mostly fun for most of the time because it is expensive both in money and time. It is also all that I do right now. I do not currently backpack as Covid-19 has made the trails really busy and has kept me from figuring out how to get back into shape. This is strictly an excuse to explain why I am not in the same shape I was two years ago.
Proof of backpacking. This was taken on the West Coast Trail 2018.
Back to the SBG. We had such conversations as "please move over there at this speed" to which he responded; "OMG you put your leg on me, take that off! OMG I have done something bad, OMG I am now going to panic and run sideways away from your corrections" and "I would like to go a different speed, please slow down". Which was met with "DO NOT TOUCH MY FACE OR WE WILL DIE" which looks like a cross between a giraffe and the world's worst speeding side pass.
It is time to call in reinforcements again. Fortunately, Amazing Rider (AR) is currently available. I ask her to ride him until I can actually get on and add leg or hand and not feel like I might be jumping off a cliff.
Sideline. I work in Safety for a living and I would never ever jump off a cliff unless I was escaping a forest fire or a grizzly bear that would otherwise kill me and never without a quick hazard assessment to cover my bases. I am probably annoying to backpack with for that reason.
AR to the rescue. In all, I believe she rode him for 2.5 weeks at a 3 on 1 off schedule. I got back a much happier horse who understood the aids and did not have a panic attack when asked to do anything.
Time for me to get back on!