I mentioned in my last post that Val was a bit of a terror to ride two weeks ago. (Also, I am leetle behind, sorry!). He just would not relax at all for me, he was chomping like crazy on his bit, and I couldn’t get him to soften his jaw at all.
Rather than the beautiful work we’ve had lately, everything was inverted and hollow, and borderline trying to run away with me. I tried really hard to be patient and just ride through, but it was hard, especially when he shortened his already short back and gave me nowhere to go.
We had legitimate meltdowns over being asked to canter in a circle. There may have been some supremely annoyed kicking from my outside leg to get him to stop flinging his shoulder to the outside. I know we joke about our horses being llamas, but it really felt like trying to ride a llama with all four feet leaving the ground at the same time, and a head straight up in the air.
Finally on Sunday, after two or three pretty ugly flat rides, I opted for a lesson in the hopes that jumping would get some of the weirdness out of his system. He did eventually settle a smidge and at least allowed me to help him find the fences, but he wasn’t giving me a nice canter to work with, and everything was a little too quick.
Even over fences, he wasn’t jumping in great form. We opted to keep the jumps small since he was so wild and weird.
After a few courses, he finally leveled out a little bit, but he was doing his best racing llama impression, and he never got soft and round like I know he can. After chatting with trainer, we decide to put him back out with his newly-gelded buddies. He still hadn’t adjusted to life with his new room mate, and he was coming in with bites and scrapes all over his butt. That makes me think he was being chased rather than playing, which could lead to soreness and tension throughout his body, plus a more delicate mental state. My little special
snowflake llama doesn’t appreciate being taken down a peg apparently.
I also put him on the list for the chiropractor to make sure nothing was out of place and making him sore. He’s a pretty stoic guy, and won’t usually give me much indication that he’s uncomfortable, so the behavior he was offering sounded like screaming when I paused to listen.
When I put him back out with his boys, they were stoked to have him back. And Val acted like he didn’t care a lick, even though I know he was really happy to see them. Everyone sniffed noses for a moment, and then Val gave out a big, studdish squeal and struck out at both of them until they gave him space. He then proceeded to wander the pasture, reacquainting himself while the two boys followed him around like lost puppies. Over at the arena, an occasional squeal could be heard, but otherwise they settled in well, and he seemed instantly happier to be in charge again.
It was a frustrating week, and I didn’t leave the barn with the happy relaxed feeling I usually have after a ride. I’m pretty good about letting a bad ride go these days, but three in a row is hard. I laughed off most of the wildness, but adjusting when things don’t go according to plan has never been my strong suit and it was hard not to hold a grudge. Who knew horses taught life-lessons so well? Oh wait, yeah, I did.
Cons: My horse was a train wreck and wasn’t giving anything away for free all week. He almost got shipped off to a stand in for a llama at a petting zoo.
Pros: I remembered how to breathe in, then breathe out, laugh about it, and then move on.