There are certain days when everything just goes wrong. Monday was like that, we call it "Black Monday". Few stressful situations at work, friends dog got seriously injured by wild bores, Dum didn't eat his oats at all that day - you name it, everything was just not right. So why did I expect our session with J to work out.
We worked on-line and there were a lot of people there, watching or not, putting on pressure. When you have a mix of people in the stable, some "naturals" and some "classical" it's obvious both groups will observe each other and maybe, not always out of bad will, criticize. That puts a lot of pressure on the rider. Over the years I learned to ignore it and focus on Juliano but on days like this you want at least your horse to understand you. Well, it turned out I couldn't be more wrong. I had to understand myself first. As game after game fell apart I had to step away from Juliano and observe him for clues, clues about myself and I got it. I was focusing on our human problems not on him. Why should Juliano focus on me than. He wanted to go back to his pasture as he knew there was no point in cooperating with a "right brain" human.
"Blah, blah, blah not interested"
"I will go sideways in trot but still not interested"
That night I was thinking what to do next, how to make the next day positive. There were two thoughts that went through my mind which I thought were the best solution:
1. work alone with J, away from human distractions
2. work on something simple that I know from today is broken
So the next day we did a Level 1 circling game. We played away from people on the secluded pasture. Only me, Juliano, his pasture mates and Magda were there. Magda was working with Dum in one end of the paddock and I took Juliano to the other end. All the puzzle pieces from yesterday started coming together. Juliano was not turning his had away from me on the circle. He did beautiful changes of direction and although I didn't ask for it he did a flying lead change a couple of times. These were his first flying lead changes on-line ever! We played for 15minutes and it all just worked out great.
These two days proved to me that a bad session is not a bad session after all. It highlights the problem areas and allows both you and your horse to make a step forward the next time you play. Most of the time the next day brings you something unexpected like the flying lead change. I'm sure that if I drilled Juliano to do the change we both would get upset. Another thing that I noticed is a change in Juliano, he wasn't the emotional one on Monday, in fact he was exuberant but not right-brain crazy thoroughbred he used to be. So a word of advice, before you judge your horse's behavior: step away from the horse and look at yourself. Are you as focused, cool and collected as you can be? Are you a good leader for your horse? Remember your horse will read you like an open book, any time.