A few weeks ago, I was tacking up in Tristan’s stall and dropped the saddle pad. It was covered in shavings when I picked it up, so I shook it out, hard, putting a good snap into the end to get the last of them off. In the stall. Right next to Tristan. The last snap was maybe an inch from his belly.
He flinched in place then turned his head to GLARE at me, every line of his face saying “You are so damn lucky that I’m your horse and not 99% of the rest of horses.”
Honestly, I didn’t even think about it, not for a split second. I just did it and knew he’d be fine.
Fast forward to last Thursday, when we did a dressage school. Everything went splendidly, and in the last ten minutes or so I picked him back up to work on our walk-canter transitions. The walk collected nicely, and then I started putting some jump in it.
Then I asked for the canter, and all hell broke loose. He flailed with legs in all directions, cow-kicked out behind when I put my outside leg on, raised his head to the sky in his best giraffe impression and then shook it, hard. When he stuttered into a canter it was tense, bracing, and wholly terrible. I must have tried a dozen transitions and they were all like that, some worse than others, but none of them even marginally acceptable.
I ended up trying to salvage the moment with a few semi-clean (but still not good) trot-canter transitions, and then cooled him out while regretting my entire life. I texted Hannah and whined about ruining everything, I thought again about having the vet do a lameness eval when she comes out for spring shots. You name it, I went through the depressed rider’s toolkit over and over again.
Then I got off and turned to pick up his hind leg to pick out his foot.