It all started as a normal lesson, with a few minor spooks here and there, nothing out of the ordinary. It was a cool day but mild by our harsh winter standards. As we warmed up Salut got more and more supple. It was going to be a promising lesson with hope of working on our half-pass and collection in the trot. Until out of nowhere an invisible goblin attacked Salut from the corner of the arena! This goblin was the type of goblin that only taunts 17.2hh grey geldings… as Salut’s girlfriend, a sassy black mare, effortlessly trotted by. At first we thought it was hiding under the quartersheet on the shelf, but with the removal of the assumed offender we realized it was more than that.
This goblin was BIG and SCARY. So scary in fact it was causing Salut to duck away at even the last second. We tried gentle encouragement, we tried slowly circling closer and closer, we even tried following his girlfriend into the corner, but nothing could convince this gelding to go near it. He was so scared he had worked himself up into a sweat! Even as we tried to get him just to trot forward around the ring behind his girlfriend, I couldn’t get him out of his pokey state. It was like my senior gelding had lost it. There is no other way to explain it. I had just paid for a very expensive session on riding into a corner. I guess it is better than making it to the Olympics and having it happen where the aspirations are slightly higher than a decent half-pass… but I now know what it feels like to be David Marcus in London riding the talented (but unpredictable as any horse) Chrevi’s Capital. I have never in my life seen my horse freak out like this and hopefully I never do again.
A few things I did learn:
– Post the trot as it helps to remove tension from the rider and allow your horse to move forward.
– Despite fear of your horse running out on you, try your best not to pull on their mouth. Everything must be about going forward.
– Start working on a circle and gradually make your circle bigger and bigger until it encompasses the goblin.
– For every step taken closer to the goblin, praise your horse (he needs all the encouragement he can get).
Here’s too hoping the goblin never resurfaces.