Focus and Relaxation

I’ve had Pax just over a month now and it has been a really different experience. I didn’t set out to get a two-year-old – I would have preferred that he had been three going on four – but when I saw him, I got that feeling that he was the one. Age be damned. But not only is he two, for a thoroughbred, he’s a bit of a young two having been born in mid-May. And while I wouldn’t call him immature in the sense that he’s overly silly, you can tell he’s a baby and he mostly has the attention span of a gnat.

So all the ground work I am doing with him is imperative to teach Pax how to focus and how to relax.

The focus is coming along though we still have moments where he’ll forget and spook himself over a stationary object or the dogs that have been walking quietly beside us for the last ten minutes. Pax isn’t nasty about anything, he just doesn’t know how to handle himself yet. To date, he settles pretty quickly and forgets even quicker.

The relaxation though? That’s been more difficult. Now that Pax knows the basics of the groundwork we’re teaching him (how to send, how to turn his haunches, two eyes & two ears), we’re starting to use that to teach him to relax. In our lesson this week, LT had me wait to release the pressure until we saw at least a small sign of relaxation in his body. I had to see a lowered head, a cocked back foot, an exhale or sigh, something to show me that his mind was slowing down as much as his body was.

We’re still figuring each other out, and I can already tell that he will not be as easy as Gus has been, but I’m having a lot of fun learning right alongside.

Hit that Point

Well, I’ve hit time in every amateur-with-a-green-horse’s life where you begin to think “WTF have I gotten myself into? Why didn’t I buy a schoolmaster? Or at least a horse that was already started and going novice? Why did I think I could handle this?!”

Sometimes we get out to the barn when it's still light...
Sometimes we get out to the barn when it’s still light…

Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic but the last four days of riding have been a struggle in patience. Patience for Gus and patience for me.

I know that this is just a phase in Gus’ life. He’s been such a steady Eddy for the last year that I got a little complacent. It’s not that we haven’t ever had bad rides… because we have had them! But we’ve never had this many bad rides in a row. It’s been more than a little frustrating.

My faithful companion.
My faithful companion.

At first I blamed it on the fact that Gus had such a long break. He’s bound to be feeling it and not wanting to really work.

Then I blamed it on the constantly shifting weather we’ve been having. It’s making me cranky too!

Lastly I blamed in on the clip. I mean, suddenly he’s naked… I guess that might be part of it.

I checked tack fit and while it’s not custom, it’s pretty good. It’s not pinching and it’s all fitted correctly. And honestly, he’s going to have to deal just a little bit because I don’t have the money to buy him a custom fitted saddle right now. The one thing I can change up is the bit. He was going so well in the baucher but I’m going to go back to the loose ring and see if that helps. And schedule a date with the dentist… we’re probably long overdue.

After the bath, pre clip.
After the bath, pre clip.

The annoying part is that Gus isn’t really being bad in a way I can correct, it’s just like he’s forgotten everything he’s learned in the last year and he’s refusing to try. I suppose that’s like most kids coming back to school after winter vacation.

But we will soldier on. I will keep it simple and we’ll try to just have fun for a few days.