February 10, 2012


"He wants so badly for you to do all of the work for him."

Yes.  Yes, he does.  I hadn't really thought of it before that moment, but as Connor leaned heavily into my reins and I kept giving and releasing so that he couldn't do that, it was clear.  He wants me to hold him up, and he wants me to carry him around corners, because being ridden is hard work.  It's not that he shies away from hard work, but he shies away from hard work the same way humans shy away from my Crossfit classes.

Really, we were screwed from the beginning at our Thursday lesson with my trainer.  There was a lesson and an extra horse/rider pair in the ring when we got in at 7pm, and as we were walking by the extra pair, the rider dismounted.  Suddenly, Connor had a meltdown and WAS NOT SURE THAT PEOPLE AND HORSES SHOULD BE SEPARATED LIKE THAT, GUYS!!!!!  He didn't go more than ten feet or so, but he did try to shoot out from under me.  That, plus an unfortunate incident in which he kicked a rock into the metal doors left him so rattled, it took half the lesson to get anything good out of him.

She had also watched my Nancy video several times since last weekend, and we drilled many of the concepts Nancy left me with.  Throughout, there was an emphasis on lightness, and slowly, we're getting there.  Nancy made a big deal out of the fact that he's been driven a lot before, and how he's used to pulling with his chest and front legs to get where he's going, and how we're going to have to rewire his brain so that he's used to pushing with the hind end instead.  I hadn't really thought of that as being an issue before then, but it makes sense in the context of many of my lessons lately.

The development of a young horse is so fascinating.  I can feel how he's slowly putting together these concepts I've been asking of him, and I can feel the progress.  Half of a 20m circle of self-carriage here, another few steps of lightness there...it's coming.  I can feel it.  One of my biggest struggles is developing the language and conversation with him that allows me to tell him when what he's doing is right, so that he repeats it.  I know our progress is slower than normal because I'm not an accomplished rider, but it really is becoming obvious to me how shortcuts can ultimately derail such fine, careful progress as we're making.

Through all of this, I'm becoming convinced that there's no such thing as perfection, only the pursuit of it, which makes the journey worth more than any end result I could ask of Connor.  That makes each ride, each step, and each new skill learned worth so much more.  I like it that way.


  1. Keep that positive thinking and stay on your path. You are doing great. When DaVinci was trained they cut alot of corners and his weaknesses show at times. The only thing I don't agree with is that driving put him on his forehand. Driving horses have to use their haunches to push and sit to slow. They push against the harness not pull. Ground driving is similar to long lining used in dressage. I hope to get Comrade driving again to reinforce my riding. Apollo, the cob stallion, rides dressage and drives. Okay sorry off my soap box. Have fun and take all the time you need.

  2. I love the feeling of a young horse getting it. It makes all the difference! I am very excited that i get to follow your progress!!!