I’m going to preface this post with the common knowledge that sometimes I make poor decisions.
The arena was finished up on Thursday, but since I had family in town we had to wait to take our maiden voyage until Friday night. I made the (correct) decision to just lunge Eli. He was like a gorilla at the end of the lunge line. All limbs and exuberance.
We had the arena to ourselves so I let him play his little heart out at the end of the line while I giggled. He cracks me up, because he can’t manage to rearrange his limbs in a timely enough fashion to land the shenanigans, so it’s mostly just a lot of tripping and farting.
He had the time of his life, though, and even shocked me by standing still in his stall while I wrapped his hind legs. Usually it’s a chaotic mess of flailing because he “just wants to touch the wraps already, mooooom.”
After a relatively lazy morning this morning, I headed out to the barn to teach a tiny tot lesson, and then ride the beast. He was happy to stand on the crossties moderately patiently while I adjusted his new 5 point.
(Side note: is there anything harder than being 5’2 and having to adjust straps on a 17.1 h wiggling baby when said some of the straps are above your head? I think not.)
It was only on the walk out to the arena that I was beginning to wonder if I’d made the right choice in riding. Now is the time to mention, they’ve also been in for 2 days since all of our snow melted and now our farm is essentially a sheet of ice. And he’s 5. And he has no hair. And it’s winter. But it’s fine.
After he bolted away from the mounting block, we had a discussion about manners and I swung aboard.
I really suck at decision making sometimes, guys.
He proceeded to bounce and bolt and hop across the arena like somebody set his tail on fire. Thank god for my running martingale because otherwise I would be trying to bum a ride back from Massachusetts. We had no breaks. Minimal steering. No hamsters in sight on the wheel.
To add to the fun, the wind started to howl… while simultaneously banging the big doors on both ends of the arena.
I am honestly surprised he held it together as well as he did, and while he was boinging around like a ping pong ball, he was desperately trying to be kind so he didn’t lose me in the process.
After our 5th or 6th meltdown at X, I asked the other girls in the ring if they minded if I tossed him on the lunge line for a bit. They happily agreed, and I let the beast out to play.
After he realized he was free, he bucked and bolted and kicked and farted and just generally carried on like a loon. One of the things I’ve learned about this guy is that if he’s using his hind boots as an excuse to buck, we’re not getting much in the way of work done. We’ll get past that eventually but for now we just go with it. In order for me to push buttons, he has to trust that I’m not going to be upset with him.
Because there were two other riders in the ring who were being gracious, I got E to the point where he picked up the canter without a complete meltdown and called it good. I did hop back on and walk a few more circles to reinforce that when Mom gets off to lunge you, it doesn’t mean she’s done riding. He mostly kept it together, so I called it good before we could have another meltdown and continue to be in everybody’s way.
The good news is that I really enjoy his new set up. Changing him to the Waterford was a great choice, and the running martingale was just enough to keep the rodeo under control when shit really hit the fan. Plus the grab strap on the 5-point is a perfect handle when he goes into bronco mode.
He’s such a sensitive guy that I’m walking a fine line between setting a firm boundary and exploding his brain when he’s hot like that, but for the most part, we’re figuring it out. He’s got a great heart, so it’ll all work out just fine.