I’ve gone radio silent as Archie and I learned each other. Sometimes, you just don’t have anything to say to the whole wide world as you go through the emotions of a new horse. And emotions there have been – like… all of them. I’ve been happy and proud, I’ve been mad, I’ve gone, “WTF DID I DO” and everything in between.
Things came to a bit of a boiling point a few weeks ago and I realized I was putting some artificial pressure on the both of us for absolutely no reason and it was… not good. For either of our mental states. Where did this pressure come from? My own head? Social media? Who knows. What I know is that I was pushing both of us too fast and it was not conducive to success. As it rarely is with horses. You know, still learning these lessons 20 years later.
We did a mini-derby at home at starter – and it was too much. Dressage was fine, the stadium jumps were fine, but the XC was just too much and too new. We LEAPT over things, we stopped, we spooked, I fell off, it was… a day. We ended on a good note and I went home feeling defeated.
So I made a very intentional decision to take all the pressure off Archie. All of it. If I got on that day and all we did was walk until he relaxed, so be it. Wouldn’t you know, within ~ a week it was like I had a new horse under me. It’s not saying he’s never going to be that horse, or go show or whatever – he totally will. He just was telling me over and over, “MOM I AM OVERWHELMED” and I didn’t hear him until he yelled at me.
Our big focus right now is just… relaxing. Every ride should feel like a happy nice hack. He’s naturally a horse whose brain goes 100mph (and like.. same) and when I was adding pressure to do this brand new thing in a brand new place in a brand new way he tried, but just said, “OMG I LITERALLY CANNOT EVEN” and his brain sent out smoke from his ears. So, we do everything at 0.8 speed – intentionally slow, working on happy, relaxed ways of going. Some rides we only walk and trot. Sometimes we add jumps. Sometimes we just hack around the fields. Whatever his brain tells me it needs that day.
That brain is going to be a positive eventually – he’s sensitive and smart and I have no doubt he’s going to be fancy and love the challenge of a full XC course eventually. Can just see him being one who is going to absolutely hunt down flags. But right now, our xc lessons are a nice Sunday hack – with some speed bumps thrown in.
And it feels amazing. For the first time, I have this happy, totally game horse underneath me and cantering around the field Sunday, I felt like I could have popped over anything out there. Those starter jumps he felt the need to jump at N/T height a few weeks ago? Loped over like they were boring AF.
It feels so good to have this happy pony under me and in a lot of ways, while the wake up call sucked, it was what I needed. Archie is going to make me a better rider in the end, for sure, but he’s also reminding me it’s okay to slow down in all aspects of my life. There’s. No. Rush.
(And don’t worry, he’s not particularly inclined to rush.. anywhere. Our XC videos he literally LOPES. Like a western horse. We’re gonna be the only people with time faults at like, Starter)