This post will most likely ramble...but I started this blog to document our progress and record my thoughts. So here goes!
I had a rough night last night and I beat myself up about it. I realize that when I am not in the right frame of mind, how can I expect Riva to be.
Started out with a cold, rainy afternoon/evening. I should be grateful for the indoor at our barn - but I really want to get outside and enjoy some wide open space. Riva was bred to be a hunter or dressage horse - I think she will excel at both - not because of me, but because of her pedigree - and she likes to be in the ring alone or with one other horse.
Anyway - as I was grooming my mud ball but happy horse, there were 3 people riding already in the indoor plus my daughter. Ok - that will make 5 with Riva and I. Not good in my mind. First of all, no room to lounge first and Riva has been so much more forward when I can lounge her first. Strike one. The 3 other people riding are experienced riders with seasoned horse - oh, and L is too. Strike two - Riva and I are green on green. So I slowly finished getting Riva saddled and bridled, wondering if we would get anything accomplished besides me trying to keep the Diva from sinking her teeth into another horse or landing a kick at another. Two riders exited by the time I got ready to mount. Swung up and within 2 minutes of riding, Strike three - Riva was not into this, not forward, doing her 'trog' - half hearted trotting.
I am learning what behind and in front of the leg feels like now. Had a few moments of her being in front of my leg, but much more time, she was behind. L and I had planned to try some follow the leader with her and Henny to try and get Riva to hold the canter under saddle. Waited until the other rider left the arena - so it was just L and I. I agreed to give it a try. I knew Riva was not forward enough for canter work tonight. I am a green rider - Riva is a green horse. She doesn't really know what a canter cue is. But when she is forward, she offers it and says 'can I please?'. I know what that feels like - when I get the question, and give her the cue and encourage her to canter as long as she will keep the gait. She wasn't offering last night.
L got Henny cantering and I asked Riva for canter several times. She picked it up a few times - the best one of the night, she tripped and I couldn't recover fast enough to ask again. I was getting frustrated - I know, does not help. I finally thought, maybe if L gets on and gets her cantering, that will help Riva understand. So L agreed to ride her. Well, at least now I know it is not just me! L had a difficult time getting Riva to go into canter, also. The best stretch of canter was when L rode her like a Western Pleasure horse - so it was more of a lope. She put the reins in one hand and swung the dressage whip along her side - not touching her with it (that would cause much bucking!) just letting Riva see it and enouraging her.
L and I talked afterwards, and she thinks Riva is trying. That she just was sluggish last night and it will take time, work, energy...on my part!
I am hoping to look back on this post in a few months and think 'wow, look how far we have come'. But in the here and now, it is discouraging to not be getting and holding the canter.
I love this horse and want to enjoy her. I spent some time just hanging out in her stall last night, after riding, just remembering why I got this horse and what she means to me. When I am with her, grooming, riding, just hanging out - it clears my mind and I don't think about all the other stressers in my life. I focus on the task at hand, breathing in her sweet horsey smell, sometime just thinking I can not believe she is mine.
pic of the baby Riva and I: