Ollie – whose show name is The Dude Abides (don’t get the reference? Watch The Big Lebowski) – is settling in nicely to his new barn. It was bittersweet leaving my former barn, where I’d been for three years, to go to a new, unknown place with new friends for both Ollie and me. And quite honestly, a bit scary.
I’m not a person known for having balls of steel. In fact, my balls are barely visible to the trained eye. But they are there somewhere – I just sometimes have to root around like a man rearranging in public to find them. So I had my first ride on Ollie, and I had the highest of hopes. I walked him out to the jumping arena, hoping to hop on and just do a little flatwork. Maybe Bed Bath and Beyond if we had time. No big deal.
We get out to the ring, and he starts huffing and tap dancing all over the place. This ring is clearly filled with horse-eating jumps, and “MOM, WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME ENTER THIS PLACE OF DESPAIR AND SADNESS?” So he spins a bit, and keeps tap-dancing like his life depended on it, and wouldn’t stand at the mounting block. I walk him around the ring, thinking, “OK, so I don’t have to ride today. He’s just getting used to this place, and I don’t have to ride…” I resigned myself to walking him around, tacked up, and then going back for treats and cuddles.
But, something happened. My balls grew three sizes that day.
I suddenly thought, “No one here knows you’re a weenie yet (But maybe now they do – Hi new barn peoples!). You need to get on that horse and MAKE HIM MOVE.”
So I did.
And we walked until he was huffing only every five seconds. And then we trotted until he stopped snorting altogether. And only then did we go back into the barn.
It may not sound like much, and it may sound stupid, but it was a big deal for someone like me whose first instinct is to:
I don’t know if it’s the change of setting, or just a change in my mindset, but I’m already feeling more confident about my riding.