Started at 2:00 pm with a plan to catch Chewie, tack up, brief warm-up, and be on his back ready for the lesson (me all stretched out & ready) at 3:00pm. I sometimes wonder if that horse doesn't see me coming with a purpose, and decide "yup... this is the day I'm going to warm myself up without her." Off he went, running at a full gallop around the pasture for about ten minutes. He was warm & breathing hard by the time he walked up to me of his own choice, almost to say, "Nevermind, that's not worth the effort. You must have something more interesting for me than that!"
2:30pm We were tacked up & ready to warm up. Side reins, round pen, all in place. Good 20 minute warm-up full of a cooperative horse. Slobber everywhere, running out of his mouth.
3:05pm Robin arrives. I hopped on, and Chewie decided the edge of the round pen was the place to be. We spent probably 20 minutes asking him to cooperate, even raking the dirt around in the round pen. Chewie was clearly irritated by the whole lesson situation - head tossing, little hopping about. He was obviously not happy. Angry eyes, angry ears, tail swishing all over the place. The more angry he got, the more angry I was. Robin asked if I was scared - NO! Not one bit... I was frustrated he was so mean.
Went outside to the pasture, lunge line. Robin lunged him a while, probably another 10 minutes, asking for a good trot & a little canter. Chewie obliged, cooperating mostly. I climbed on, asked him to walk, he was great. No problems.
Asked for trot.. here we go again with grouchy horse. He started throwing his head, diving in on the circle, trying every trick he knew. I was pushing with my legs, okay, I was kicking with my legs, giving him his face (side reins on him on 5), Robin had her outside hand up, waving it. Both of us were clucking & kissing to him,, no doing. Finally, I asked, her "What else can I be doing here to make him go?" She answered me, "Keep doing what you're doing. It's a battle of wills. You want to work, he doesn't. Just keep doing the same until he gives up & agrees."
Finally, a trot... We worked on keeping him in it, then extending & collecting it. I worked on breathing, and posting with legs down, and not out (apparently that's how I handle the frustration - I throw my legs out & away from him, rather than push straight down). Once he looked good, we stopped, and reversed.
Lots of walk again... And, of course, when I asked for trot, the tempered fit restarted. Diving in on the circle, throwing his head, even a little hop in the rear. Angry, I persisted again, kicking, kissing, clucking, growling... And finally, I got cooperation. We worked on "posting down" again, and varying his strides - Shortening & Lengthening, from a Western Pleasure jog, up to a Dressage Working trot. Definitely a good end. Ended lesson at 4:25 pm.
Robin said at the end, "What does he really like to do? Let's end on that, on a good note, and let him realize what it takes to get his reward." So, we left the pasture, dumped off the side reins & the lunge line, and meandered down the dirt road. Chewie was clearly pleased to be able to give me his trail-walk, slower than a quarter horse, "half awake but alert enough to not trip" gait. On the way back to the house, my neighbor thought it necessary to throw a bucket of water on his cement slab. Chewie spooked, but not out of control. I had my normal "Yikes" reaction. Robin explained I did 90% correct. I "caught him" on the reins, kept my upper leg on him, and turned him towards the spook. What I did wrong, was I pulled my lower leg back & heels up, basically off him completely. She explained that I'll be good & safe once my instinct is to do all the other things I did, and keep my lower leg on him, to tell him, "here I am, I'm here to keep you safe, stay in between me."
Total work out? Almost 2.5 hours, including the 30 minute walk-out down the road. Rewarded the big Chew-monster with Vetrolin rub on all four legs, his cookie-stretches, and a good brushing massage.
The goods of the lesson? I didn't chicken-out & ask Robin to ride the stupid out of him, I stayed with it. I also learned that it's a battle of wills with him on his grouchy days. The bads of the lesson? Still accomplishing nothing new... No new drills for me, or him.
I was encouraged for the upcoming week to "Pick a number." 2,3,4, no more than 5. Decide that I'm going to go "X Gait" for "# times" around the circle, then change gait, or change direction. At least 4 changes in direction, alternating between walk, and trot, turns on the forehand, turns on the haunches, leg yield down the fence line, anything to break it up, and keep Chewie guessing. Robin thinks he's bored with "one direction walk, trot, change direction, walk, trot, climb off". I sure hope that's the reason for the grumpy-horse. He's not sore, he's not lame, and there haven't been any major changes except for some time off for the weather.
Sunday will be a day-off, followed by back to work Monday evening.