For those who read the story of the Meltdown, this is what has been happening since. I know there were some readers who were a bit skeptical about Son being able to continue the progress so I would like to take you through our last four lessons. If you haven’t read the story you can read the one titled Meltdown that appears before this one.
Lesson When Son arrived, I asked him what kind of energy he was in. He said good (that’s what I was seeing). I told him that he could make two choices then. The first was which horse he wanted to ride of those he has already ridden and the second was whether he wanted to ride with a saddle or bareback. He chose to ride bareback on Shorty. He stayed on task for tack up and had good energy leaving for the arena. He was the only rider and he did well. He stayed in good humor and when I told him he could trot physical energy went up to appropriate level. He worked on his trotting and balance is getting better. He was still in good mood and energy at the end and followed through with untack and put away in good order. Mom is so proud of him and I of them. Shorty is considered an easy ride.
Next Lesson I forgot I had told Son that he could ride Shag and I had assigned him Sadie. I was in the back pen catching horses when he arrived. When I came into the barn he was waiting to ask me about it. I told him I forgot and he could ride Shag and it would be with a saddle. He had not gotten terribly upset with my error and our discussion was at a very appropriate energy exchange.
Shag dealt him the usual misery that he dishes out to riders. Son’s grandparents were here to see him ride for the first time. He tacked up in good time. No arguing with either mom or me. He is beginning to figure out what to do and when to do it and by the end of the ride was keeping Shag out of the quit corner. The times that Shag took it away and came in to stop Son just laughed (of course that doesn’t help rider energy – you wilt). He was still energetic and positive at the end of the ride.
When we put Shag up we talked a little about Bart (thoroughbred, ex race horse) and in the barn Son was asking about the harder horses. I told him that Shag and Lil would give him good lessons and we could increase the number of horses he could ride. He asked who was a hard horse after Shag and Lil. I thought a minute, laughed and told him Mattie. He looked at me and said that I had better assign him either Shag or Lil each time so he could get ready to ride Mattie. What a turn around. That statement blew off the ‘wow’ meter. To put it politely, Shag is a challenging ride.
Next Lesson I was catching horses out back again when Son arrived. I had assigned Sadie (easy ride) and it was on the ride board. As I was coming in from catching the other horses, he and mom met me outside the barn and asked if I wanted them to catch Sadie. I asked Son if he had everything set up and thought he could do it. He said yes to both. I gave him instructions and sent him off. When I looked over, Sadie was walking away from him. I hollered a couple of instructions and he and mom completed the catch in good form.
Although he was riding with two new people, boys a little older than he is, he stayed focused on the prep process and was ready to go to the arena 20 minutes ahead of the others (they are new and still learning). I sent him down reminding him that he could only walk and mom was coach.
When I arrived at the arena with the others and got them on I told Son he could trot. He worked on regulating Sadie’s trot – keeping it slow and soft. He is paying much more attention to steering. His energy stayed where it needed to be during the ride and his attitude was very cheerful. Mom says he is now looking forward to the lessons and getting ready without any problems. She is seeing behavior change at home that she feels are a result of what is required for riding.
When we finished, I told Son that I needed to talk to him about consequences. I asked if he realized he suffered a consequence today – a good one. He said no. I told him that because he focused on his tacking up and got it done he was able to go to the arena early and start riding. Because of that, he actually was able to ride 20 minutes longer. His face lit up into a big grin and he thought that was pretty good.
Next Lesson Son arrived 30 minutes early. He ran and played with the dogs before his lesson. He was in good mood and energy. I assigned Lil today since he had a Sadie ride last time. Lil was in heat so she was ‘double down don’t wanna do anything’. Today her attitude was way past challenge, sucky would be the appropriate definition.
NOTE: I have moved the gelding Tio to a pen along side the arena. He is considered a ‘ladies man’ so Lil was plying all her feminine horsey wiles to attract his attention. Believe me, this really gives the rider a challenge.
Son handled the tacking up in efficient fashion. As soon as Son got on, his mom and I could see what kind of ride he would be faced with. And, he was.
Every time Lil came to the corner her attention was on Tio. Of course that meant stopping. Son had to work through that to get and keep her going. For the first time today, I saw Son with appropriate assertive energy and he was able to keep it going the entire ride.
Toward the end (remember the entire ride has taken a lot of mental, physical and emotional energy and personal discipline just to keep Lil going) when he came by he let out a huge sigh BUT he didn’t wilt his body giving up his energy. It seemed to be more a release of tension. It was very interesting to watch Lil because she too let out a sigh after he did and we could see her energy free up.
The next round Son was able to keep her walking through the corner and it appeared that it took little effort. After that, I told him we would end the lesson because he had brought the ride to a positive ‘he was in charge’ place, which I like to stop on. (He had been riding the full time so it all worked nicely.) When he brought Lil in he commented to mom that it wasn’t time to quit, he’d only been riding a few minutes.
When a rider makes this kind of comment I know where they were mentally and emotionally in their ride – other horse people understand this place – time stops because you and the horse are in the same working energy. Although he was working physically hard on his end to make the correct things happen the energy involved was that feeling good about trying.
As he was untacking, he commented about his very first ride and that he didn’t have horse energy at that time. Today he did have horse energy and it made everything good. He even realized that mom and my energy and attitude were really good because of him and his experience.
Mom commented that she is seeing changes in him on a personal level. One thing that made it difficult for both of us in the beginning was the amount of time it took Son to process information. Then, not only was the process slow but he tended to shut down or argue. Now, it is much quicker, no shutting down and I get feed back from him of ‘got it’.
Because he was so on task, I videoed the tack up process. I am updating my website and want prospective students to be able to see in action what the lessons entail. How cool is it to now be able to use this young man as a role model? See him at work.