Chance has been quiet as can be the past couple of weeks since summer kicked in. That changed a little bit today. It actually was not too terribly hot this morning, there was a nice breeze. I guess he got a little excited about it. He started out lazy on the flat, and over the first couple of jumps. Then when we starting really jumping, he just woke up. He wasn’t terrible, he just started dragging me to the jumps and tossing his head. However, I kept calm and reminded him that he is a hunter – not a racehorse.
How we react to our horses’ less than ideal behavior can make all the difference. Had I tensed up and allowed the “I’m gonna get bucked off” thoughts to take over like I used to, our ride would have spiraled downward. Instead I kept my cool, sat up, and backed him off as much as a could. I didn’t let him talk me in to any long spots; we were deep a couple of places, but that is okay. We had a couple of late lead changes, but we still got them. He dolphined around a turn, but I sat up, softened my feel, and pressed him forward.
This time last year, I would have either just let him drag me around and jump from a mile away everywhere; or I would have gotten flustered and let the ride get worse and worse until I finally gave up.
Reaction is everything. Our horses are not going to be perfect every single day, they are allowed to feel frisky or grumpy sometimes, but how we react can really turn a bad ride around. Staying calm, yet assertive, and working to correct them will earn their respect. Getting flustered and giving in to their behavior, or trying to overcorrect it out of anger, will lose their respect; or worse: earn their fear. Reacting calmly, staying in control of our emotions, and correcting what we can correct is the best thing we can do when they are feeling frisky or simply not cooperating.
“There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle: one is a sense of humor and the other is patience.” – John Lyons