My thoughts are still a bit jumbled as I try to write this.
The long awaited day has finally dawned, and I have had my first lesson on Barnaby with an instructor I've never met before, called Nicky Hunt. And I'm so glad I did.
I rode Barnaby first so she could see what he's like, and what problems I have when I ride him, ie bending his head to the left all the time.
Then after a while she got on him, to see what it is I'm experiencing. At first I wasn't very impressed with her riding style. She really seemed to lean back to stop him, and played with his bit to get him to go down while standing still, which really irritates me. She also said I needed to bring him into his stable and make him stand for fifteen minutes a day with side reins on, only loosly, but side reins nevertheless, in order for him to understand that he can bend round and forwards. I nearly laughed. I nearly ordered her off my property.
But I let her continue, and gradually, gradually, Barnaby began to make a decent shape. My frustration has always been that I need someone to teach my horse what I want him to do, then teach me how to show the horse what I want him to do, then to put the combination together, and this has never been possible until now, so I'm thrilled that finally someone can help us (because, to be fair, I've slipped into a lot of bad habits that need to be corrected, too).
The person I used to take Max to totally overfaced him and it was all about agression, which really put me off. Today's session was just forty minutes and it did wonders for Barnaby. Nicky was impressed when she got off, too, and said he hadn't been half as bad as she'd expected.
At the end of the day, I could decide that Barnaby is just a hack and doesn't need any schooling for that, but I just can't do it. For his own sake, he needs to be using his muscles properly and working well, not just for fitness but suppleness as well. And for some reason, sitting here now, I could cry because she didn't overface me or him, cantering was out of the question, let alone jumping.
I think at the previous yard I was on, although the teaching was excellent, the focus is very much on jumping. Now I'll let you into a little secret. When I bought Max, I actually wanted to concentrate on, and maybe even get good at, dressage, (don't laugh!) but Max was so designed for jumping, and loved it so much, that that's what we went with. I'm not saying I'll never jump again, but I really do believe that jumping is 'dressage with fences in the way' and we need to get our flatwork right first.
Finally, after all these years, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing this has made me realise that writing a blog is very different to writing a diary. When you write a diary, the secret is safe with you until your dying day, but when you blog, everything is instantly public. When you know who your readers are (or could be) it is tempting to write what you think they'd like to hear, but at the end of the day, this is my diary for me to plot my progress with The Bard amongst other things so if you disagree with what's going on, or my opinion on things, feel free to comment, but at the end of the day, this is my blog, and I stand by my thoughts, feelings, or opinions as they are now. I do want to make it clear, though, that I am not here to criticize anyone else's teaching methods or how they deal with their horses, it's just that I now have a wonderful opportunity to progress with my horse, in the way that I know we need to, and I am going to grab it with both hands.
I think we should leave the last word to the man himself, don't you?
He says, "Bleh!"