So Ollie has completely recovered from this surgery. The whole process was just NBD for him – he came home, got his stitches out precisely ten days later, and then bam. Like it never happened. He’s actually pulling off the tailless look kind of well.
And he looks kind of like a cocker spaniel now.
But he’s doing great. He wasn’t so great overall for a few weeks, unrelated to his surgery. He got, strangely, incredibly spooky and reactive. Like plastic-bag-spooking reactive. Decidely un-Dude like. But with a change in his feed, he’s back to being the lump we all know and love (and is losing weight again, thank GOD). Amen.
And after 5,872 comments from people about “Oh my GOD how do you stay in your saddle?! It doesn’t fit you! You’re unbalanced!”… ok, ok, people. I got a new jump saddle – this monoflap beauty.
And OH MY GOD, WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG? When I sat in it, I swear I heard angels sing. Or maybe it was just my ass and legs thanking me. Who knows. But it makes me feel 10,000 times more secure. Which I recently needed.
So last weekend, I had a last-minute mini-clinic with Lesley Stevenson at my barn. She was passing through on her way to moving to California, and was staying with one of the ladies from my barn, Mandy. So, while she rested up for the day, she was nice enough to come give us a group lesson – yay!
We started off with the three of us doing some warm-up flatwork, and she corrected some stuff for each of us. She said that SOMEONE had to get in front of SOMEONE’S leg ( *cough* Ollie *cough*). And then soon after, when we went to canter, the fun began. Ollie began pulling on me and blowing me off. he was trying to pull me out of the circle to join up with the other two horses, and so I pulled him more to the center. But then he wanted to pull into those standing in the center of the ring, so we went back out, and the pulling went back out. I LOVE THESE CYCLES. But, here’s where I failed- I did not have a plan. I had only reactions, and did not commit to anything, or any direction. Which makes everything fall to pieces.
I can hear my old trainer Nicky’s voice right now. “WENDY, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU TO HAVE A PLAN????” I am so bad about this. So, Lesley very kindly verbally smacked my head and told me to commit, and make things happen, and not let him get away with anything. So then, I was to trot and then canter by myself. Trotted first, with very planned directions, halted. Trotted, halted. And he was taking about twice the duration of watching Gone With The Wind, with intermission, to halt. GODDAMNIT, Ollie.
Then I went to canter. And I am not sure exactly what happened, but it was some weird jump/sideways scoot/intentional spook/half-hearted bolt/maybe baby buck, but it scared the piss out of me. He was totally doing it for funsies, but it was terrifying to Weenie Me. The good news? I totally sat that bitch. If I had been in my old saddle, it would have been the express train to dirt city. And I was told I had a very secure-looking leg. Awesome sauce.
After I checked my pants for moisture, we got back at it, with more trotting and halting. And then finally back to cantering and halting. Progress.
The three of us then went to the planned gridwork. While everyone else’s grid progressed to actual jumps, I got to do…. poles. But, the focus for me was getting The Freight Train back under control, so it was necessary. We’d trot over poles and halt. Well, the first few times, it was more like…. JESUS, PLEASE STOP. I then got to learn the fun trick that is the pulley-rein stop. When I tried it on Olls the first time I needed it, he immediately tossed his head around like, “What fresh hell is this??!” HAHAHA- MOM MEANS IT NOW. He protested, but eventually got with the program.
Since that day a week ago, I’ve had two rides, and he’s been progressively better each ride. Really, I got the much-needed smacking from Lesley to freaking grow a backbone and make Ollie realize I mean business. I’ve been too nice, and he’s walking all over me again. So, it was a good lesson, and my toolbox got bigger for Ollie’s Very Special Freight Train moments. And, sidenote: Lesley said that Ollie had a nice canter for such a drafty type. SCORE! Go Ollie, you big lug.
Today though? He was like butter, and tried so hard. He did trip all the hell over some short-set cavaletti (to get him to freaking use his hind end more), but he eventually got it. And he’s halting more and more quickly. One day, I will actually make it happen in a normal amount of time, and be able to turn him on courses appropriately. One day.
I will leave you with this – the Worst Clip Job Ever, thanks to me. This was my first attempt ever at clipping, and oh my god, it was such a mistake. All I got from it was a horse-hair bath, a bruised ego, and a pissed-off, ugly-looking horse. Luckily, he is fixed now. By someone other than me (thanks, Felicia!). Because I suck.