Back on the Literal Horse

I had a few more days of hand walking but finally, after two weeks of hand walking on hard ground, his leg finally felt good. I spent the last couple of hand walk days agonizing over if it was better or not. I had to check against his other leg to make sure.

I’d been worrying about it and trying to push it for a bit as I had paid for April training. I wanted to get that training. Especially since it was sunny now! But I also didn’t want to push Ezio into making things worse. We’d already waited a week and a half by the time I brought it up to my trainer again. Waiting a bit longer to make sure seemed a better idea than possibly extending for longer. She agreed and we just put the training on hold. We’d figure out what to do with the training payment/remaining time for April.

Once his leg looked good, I decided to lunge him in the arena and then check how it looked after being on soft ground before making the decision to ride. He definitely had reached the end of his patience for hand walking. Overall, I’d been so impressed with his ability to hold himself together for our hand walking. He’s improved a lot in that area recently. He had some serious wiggles and feelings while lunging. I was trying to not let him go too wild as that wouldn’t help anything if he made himself lame the next day.

Thoroughly covered in shavings is his favorite way to be.

The next day, Friday the 14th, his leg was still nice and tight so I gave him a serious lunge. He truly needed to get some energy out. We had a lot of trotting, some canter and he even got to roll a little bit. I figured that since he behaved himself fairly well on the lunge, we were good to go. I should have just lunged him again the next day but hindsight.

On Saturday, I was so excited to get on. It was the first day in quite a while. His leg still felt good and he was pretty dang good for grooming. Picking his right front is almost always a battle so that’s the only place we still need more improvement. When I got out to the arena, he needed more groundwork than I normally do before getting on as he was very distracted by other horses outside the arena. Once he settled, I got on and rode.

He needed a bunch of small circles for the first minute or two to get him to breathe but we got through it and started doing some decent walk work in a figure 8. We had even paused for a halt break. Then, while walking, he suddenly exploded.

He pulled his head down and bucked a few times. I got it up but when I went to turn him in a small circle, we just spun in circles far away from where we were. We were in one corner of the arena by the gate and spun all the way to the far opposite corner, which is normally quite spooky. He felt like he was on the edge of rearing the whole time. I was trying to get him to step in small circles because foot movement = brain connection but he was just gone. 100% gone. It was quite unnerving. There was a moment where I considered if an emergency dismount would have been the smarter solution. He was just that gone.

It was very different from his normal freak out options. I didn’t feel like I could use my whip to encourage any forward movement without setting him off and I don’t wear spurs. But he doesn’t mind thumping on the side so I continued to push and push to get him to take steps forward and into the circle. It probably didn’t take as long as it felt but we eventually got to a place where he was moving again. The freak out probably happened around ~7 minutes into my ride. It took the rest of my 30 minute ride to even get him to go around in his normal figure 8s in a semi-relaxed manner. Definitely a shit back to riding ride.

Sunday was our one year anniversary so I really wanted to ride. But I also didn’t want to have the same ride as the day before. So I free lunged him a TON. He definitely got his butt run off. I got on him and was very clear that we needed to relax and walk in a decent manner. It took him a bit but we eventually got it. I ended with a nice trot circle and called it a day.

Definitely happy to be on the horse again but man did he have to make a statement with our return rides.

One Year

It’s my one year anniversary of buying Ezio today.

It’s been quite the year. We started off really good, having a solid three months where we were improving together. Then something broke and we had so many troubles to the point that we couldn’t ride and I got kicked. Luckily, we are at a barn with an amazing trainer. Trainer J came in, saved our butts and helped us figure out how to communicate. Then the rains came like Noah needed something to float his boat. (seriously, there’s an extinct lake filled again. How nuts is that?) Despite the rain, we did our best to keep riding. Once the sun came back, Ezio decided he needed to have a break for a little bit longer. But now we’re back at it.

It’s really not been the year that I had hoped when I bought a new horse. I have been out of riding with Scarlet for over three years now. I really wanted to get a horse that I could just hop on and ride. But the reality is my budget was for a green horse. And while Ezio was definitely ridable for a while, he had a lot of holes in basic communication and he was really anxious. So riding didn’t continue.

I’m still keeping my expectations relatively low. There’s definitely been times where I’ve considered if Ezio is the right horse for me. But I knew that I needed to give it a good shot to make sure that I truly know if we’re a good partnership or not. Plus it’s pretty hard to sell a horse you aren’t sure you could put anyone on to test ride. So we continued training longer than I planned and will continue training for a while longer. Probably as long as I can afford it.

But things have been getting better recently. Better enough that I feel positive about the future. Ezio handled the on and off riding throughout the rain very well. Better than some of the older horses that my trainer works with. Grooming him has become easy and quick again. He still has his quirks but he’s getting loads better. Hand walking is something that no longer spooks me. I feel comfortable walking and trotting him all on my own.

The biggest change is something I was contemplating and discussing with Trainer J recently. Ezio has been reacting and having minor fits a lot more often but they’re very easy to handle and he comes back to me well. I felt like this meant that he felt more comfortable communicating with me now. Trainer J agreed. Instead of holding in his feelings until he hits 10 and then explodes completely, he’s now getting to 2 or 3 and then he has issues. It’s so much easier to deal with and I don’t lose his whole mind. I love the fact that he’s communicating more and I’m able to understand him better.

And with all of the troubles, he’s a sweet horse temperament wise. Yes he wants to bite me but he really just wants plenty of attention. And I’ve learned a lot as a horseperson. I’d have said that I was a good rider and a good horseperson before. And I still don’t think that is wrong. But I was not prepared for the type of horse that Ezio is. I now have so many more tools in my arsenal for when problems come up. I feel so much more confident in my ability to handle things.

So while it hasn’t been the perfect year, its ending on a positive note. Happy to have you in the family Ezio and I look forward to where we are going in the future.


It looks like the rain might finally be stopped, for at least a chunk of time. It’s been entirely too ridiculous lately so I’m glad to finally have it let up. Ezio’s been managing well for how little he’s been able to get out. Unfortunately, hand walking ended up being a rarity. Especially as the days of the arena not being open piled up. Whenever he was able to get out in the arena, whether it was lunging or riding, he held himself together fairly well. There was a distinct lack of focus but no real shenanigans.

We unfortunately kept not really having much trot practice as I’d be getting on him most of the time during the weekday mornings. I don’t have as much time then. I was also losing out a lot of time to dealing with him being a brat on the ground. I was getting frustrated and confused because my trainer had been saying that he was doing very good and only moving a step or two for her.

So one of the days that we got rained out of our lesson time, we agreed to have a “grooming” lesson. I was pretty sure it was him not respecting me. Trainer J got him out of his stall and walked him over to the tie bar. She explained that she was very particular about him keeping his feet right where she places them. And after any corrections, he needs to go back exactly to that spot.

Amazingly enough, me just being there was enough for Ezio. He began acting like he normally does with me, but with Trainer J. She was a little stunned. Not that she didn’t believe me, just surprised that he was acting like this with her. She showed me how to correct him. She wants me to back him up and make him yield his hind quarter side to side until he’s nice and soft. Then lead him back, plant him in the same spot and continue on. She did say that if I’m worried about yielding his hind quarters then just backing him up, moving forward and backing up again is just fine. The important part is to get him soft. The reason I’d be a bit hesitant about yielding his hind is he’s kicked me a few times on the ground when leading. He’s good at groundwork when we’re in the arena and he’s got a bit in his mouth. But he ignores the lead line much easier.

After that, she started on his feet. His feet are his biggest problem point. He’s always been bad with me. It used to take me twenty minutes to get his feet cleaned. It’s gotten better. But he’s still bad enough that I’m so embarrassed when he’s getting his feet done. He’s improved so much, just not enough. His biggest problem is just yanking his feet away. I’m not strong enough to hold onto him and he likes to paw his right front hoof specifically super duper high and then get it caught over his lead. I’m holding his lead because he’s still not standing tied yet so I just have to untangle him but it’s a very bad habit.

He perfectly demonstrated what he’s been doing with me for Trainer J. She got on his case about it and he nicely picked up his feet for her afterward. She specifically told me don’t hold on to him if he starts to do that. It’s going to be super easy to mess up your back by trying to fight him. Instead, just correct him and try again. After that, I picked up his feet myself and he was very good. We’ve been practicing like this for a few weeks and he’s so, so much better. I rarely fight about his feet (he still tried to bite my back occasionally) and he stands almost perfectly still for grooming. And when he does move, its a slight step away rather than a purposeful attempt to walk through me. So that’s been extremely nice.

But of course, once it gets sunny Ezio has to come up with a swollen ankle. His right hind was swollen a week ago Sunday when I was out for a lesson. We looked at it, felt it, walked him. He wasn’t even short on it. Maybe a hair tender but not badly. So we tried a lesson. He was fine for a while at a walk and then said no thank you. And so we cut it short. I hand walked him, gave him a few days of bute, tack walked him a couple of times through the last week. He’s slowly improving and I think I found a little scab on the back of his pastern. The swelling is almost 100% down but it’s still there. Mostly in the heat factor rather than swelling. And it will be nearly gone after 15-20 minutes of walking on the hard ground. He’s not up for soft arenas yet as I did ride him at a walk for 20 minutes on Saturday and he was a little more swollen Sunday morning than he had been Saturday morning.

It’s improving and he’s never actually been what I’d call lame on it so I’m trying to not freak. There isn’t anything a vet could really do besides ultrasound and since he’s improving, it seems like a stretch to go for that. But at the moment, I have two unrideable horses and I’m mentally spiraling a little. I’m trying to chill and stay sane but FFS! I just want to RIDE MY HORSE!

Long Time

Well it’s been a while since I made an update. Not intentionally, but there is only so much you can complain about the arenas being closed to rain. I wish I could have gotten more riding in in February but it is what it is.

I left off after Ezio has gotten his first chiro appointment. I hadn’t ridden him yet but did shortly after that post. He felt so connected. I could just feel a whole line from his head to his tail that I hadn’t felt in a while. He was very well behaved during that ride. And he stayed like that the next couple of weeks. He was so much more relaxed and able to listen.

We had a super long section of rain at the end of Feb. Presidents day was the last day I was able to ride until March. It wasn’t a lesson but we had the best ride in a long time. He was relaxed and willing. We ended up getting four full figure 8s at the trot which is the most trot I’ve gotten with him in a while.

Unhappy clothes boy. We had a day of super rain followed by very low temps the next morning so I decided to blanket him for the first time this winter.

Adding the figures to our rides has had such an impact on Ezio. Circles make him tense and he worries. Figure 8s and serpentines apparently work better for his brain. He settles in and I get good work without having to fight for his focus. It even helps at the trot. I was worried it would overwhelm him with things to focus on but I think it’s occupying his brain enough that he can’t worry about other stuff.

It was nice to have a very good ride as the last ride before the rain took over. I did my best to get Ezio out and hand walk him when it was possible. He doesn’t like getting rained on at all so I only took him out during the short dry patches. I groomed him a lot in his stall. One of my theories I’ve been working on for his behavior during grooming is him being more thin skinned than I knew. I switched to just using a body brush and the tiny side of a jelly bath scrubber to substitute for a curry comb. He seems to be handling grooming better. My trainer also agrees. It makes cleaning him harder but he’s just that sensitive.

Ezio is covered in bites. He and his neighbor bff are so bored and taking it out on each other. He’s got jugular bites and his butt looks like he’s been in a war.

During all the rain, Ezio got his second chiro adjustment. It was on one of the most rainy days so I was very nervous about how he would react. He blew up twice while we walked the short distance from his stall to the flat covered part of the barn. He didn’t run me over though so that was a win. Once out of the rain, he started very up but gradually relaxed more as he was being adjusted. You can just tell when something works for him because he really relaxes into it. The chiro was pleased with how easily he adjusts and we’re going to follow up in a month.

After the rain finally stopped, I ended up lunging him twice before we ever rode. He did have some feelings about it but kept himself together impressively well. I just have to be quicker on catching when he starts to brace with his head as that’s when he ends up being naughty. But he behaved better than some of the much older horses so I was really happy.

Getting to ride again was so nice, even if nothing much happened past walking. I just needed it for my mental health. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve got some more showers on the forecast. I’m just hoping it doesn’t put much down. We’ve got a lot of water this year. Yosemite has 40 inches of snow already. We’re good for a bit. It can wait and let me enjoy my horse again.

Pain, Pain, Go Away

During our lesson last week, we got some very clear signals from Ezio that he was feeling some serious pain. I figured he probably had tweaked something during his numerous freakouts about being tied and had planned on contacting the chiro but I kept remembering late at night so I couldn’t reach out. But during our Sunday lesson, he had some very clear opinions about turning turning in the trot. He was doing the trot transition well but afterward he was unhappy. Trainer J and I agreed that it was likely some sort of pain response. So we called the lesson there.

We have a chiro vet who boards at our barn so I reached out to her, hoping there wouldn’t be a travel fee since she already ends up at our barn. Turns out there isn’t! And she was able to come out on Wednesday so we were able to get him taken care of quickly.

I’d never had Ezio adjusted and I had no knowledge of him having been adjusted before so I didn’t know what to expect. I figured I’d have some issues getting him to stand still which I did. I didn’t know if he would freak out at the adjustments or not. She watched him walk from his stall to the flat area we were working in and said he was striding short on the left hind. I also gave her a rundown of the reactions he had given me before she started feeling him up.

It was incredibly interesting to watch his reactions to the chiro. He was a bit unsure at first but when she started checking him out, he definitely reacted. She was just feeling to get a sense of where he was at before any adjustments even happened. She felt around his pole area and he lifted his head way up and then put it down like, oh yes please. She felt around his shoulders and remarked that he had nice loose shoulders. And then she went to his sternum. Man oh man did he love that. She wasn’t even doing anything and he had already softened his eyes just from her poking around there. So that’s definitely an area he was uncomfortable in.

After she’d palpated all through his body, she started with the neck. It took a couple of pushes but she got his C1 back in place. He softened up and just stood there quite happily. She remarked that he must have had quite a headache. She adjusted a few more place in his neck and we did have to reposition him once or twice. Then she went to his sternum and that was a big adjustment and he definitely had a nice release afterward.

I had to help with the breastbone/bottom of rib area. We grabbed wrists and lifted up when she counted. We had to do that twice but got the adjustment. Getting the back ended up being a bit difficult. He was HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS of the block she was using to get above him. He was snorty and not interested in letting us move it next to him. It was funny because he actually wasn’t upset with touching it, he just didn’t want it next to him. Eventually we did convince him that it was okay and she was able to check his back. He was a bit sensitive around the withers but no adjustment happened there. She got his lower back and his hips. The left him took a couple of tries. On the second one, she said he leaned into her and really enjoyed it.

She did stretch out his legs forward and back and said that I should begin doing this as well. She also did a tail stretch, which concerns me slightly. I’m not sure I trust him at the moment for that. He was great for all the stretches honestly. He wasn’t in love with some of the foot stuff but he did it well. The stretches are something that would help him with his picking up his foot issues in the future. So I do plan to work on stretches with him. It’s just going to take some practice before we really get it down together. In addition to the stretches, she suggested that I look for a new saddle. She wasn’t sure if the sensitivity around his shoulders was due to his saddle or the yanking back while tied. But she’s leaning saddle. So I need to start that search. I’m hoping to find something reasonable used since he’s still going to be growing for the next couple of years.

I gave him a day off from work the day after and just turned him out. He had a bit of wiggles but not much. When walking him, he felt a bit looser which was interesting. Trainer J rode on Friday and said that he felt forward and trotted nicely. He gave her a bit of a look when she put the saddle on but didn’t seem girthy when she tightened it. I haven’t ridden him yet so I’ll have to see what he does when I ride him tomorrow. I’m excited. I’ll be trying a new saddle later but I didn’t want to change too many variables at one time to see if they work.

Problem Child

I’d been preparing to start talking about how we’d been making due and riding/working between the rain we had. But then I didn’t make that post and new things came up. We’ve got a lot of new things to deal with that aren’t concerned with getting time to ride. He’s become a *problem child*.

Honestly, his issues very specific now. They could definitely be so much worse but they’re dangerous and unpredictable. He’s been deciding to freak the f out when tied and pulling back super hard. It started maybe a couple of week ago. I’ve always tied him with a quick release knot since he has pulled back before. I have needed to yank on the end and release him a few times before. But they’ve been due to actual stimuli.

Recently, he seems to have started pulling back with no actual reason. And its been constant. I’ve been having to rescue yank on his rope constantly. And he’s reacting so violently that he’s making it difficult to pull him free in one yank. It definitely escalated about two weeks ago. I had literally just tied him up and hasn’t even picked up a brush yet when he freaked out and yanked backward. The rope broke. Luckily, he doesn’t want to run any time he’s gotten free. He just stopped. So I was able to grab onto the foot of rope left and hold onto him until I could get my replacement lead.

Granted, He’d chewed through part of the rope which caused it to break easier. But it wasn’t even half chewed through. And his immediate and abrupt reaction was just over the top. He barely hit the end of the rope and freaked out entirely. We hadn’t even been there for very long. There was zero reason for him to freak out. The flight response was over the top.

I spoke about it with Trainer J and she agreed it was odd and over the top. We agreed that he probably shouldn’t be tied for the time being. He’d already learned that he can pull away and get free. We didn’t want to add any reinforcement to that idea. I planned instead to train him to ground tie and also to work on his reaction to pressure on his face. In the meantime, I was just holding onto him while grooming.

And then a week ago, I get a text from my trainer saying that she didn’t end up working with him on the day she was training him. Because he flailed when she wrapped the rope around the tie pole and caught her in the head. She had gotten stuck between him and the pole so she ducked down out of the way.

I felt. LIKE. SHIT.

She obviously doesn’t blame me and doesn’t even hold a grudge against Ezio. She says its just a common issue with dealing with babies. But she says we definitely need to work on the ground training.

The terrorist himself.

Luckily, she only had a hematoma from the smack. She wasn’t able to wear her helmet for a few days due to swelling. And then a few days after she had the most… impressive set of black eyes. Again, felt horrible. Luckily, no other symptoms showed up. She got hit on the forehead which was the best place in the head to get hit by. It’s nice and solid there.

I’ve been grooming him by holding him and working super hard on just freaking standing still at the crosstie area. It’s been a process. He will stand easily once he realizes that’s what we are doing but getting him into the standing mindset is super difficult. And I’m back to the effort of dodging his teeth when attempting to pick his feet. He likes to turn his head and bite at me when I get his front feet.

I also have determined that most of this issue likely stems from the fact that he has zero reference of pressure and release. He turned his head once while I was grooming his barrel in the opposite direction from where I was standing. He turned it far enough that he hit the end of the line and started to freak out. HE DID THAT TO HIMSELF! My theory is he likes people enough that he’s learned to “lead” by following and force. So I’m trying to go back to the very basics of lowering his head to release pressure. It will be a process.

Wet, wet, wet

We finally got through the rain that CA was getting and has enough days of sun that the arenas were open. Scarlet got out and was hand walked for most of the time it was raining but he’s a good boy so I could do that. Ezio was able to get out a few times. I hand walked him once and Trainer J hand walked him twice but we aren’t at a place where I trust him to hand walked or tack walked outside the arena.

So Saturday was the first day he was able to get out. The arena was only cleared for riding and lunging since part of it was still sloppy. Ezio is… not great at lunging. We did manage to get some good effort for trotting and walking both ways. But he had some attitude and tried to run off a time or two. But we got through enough that I was satisfied. He really needs a canter but I wasn’t about to fly a kite.

Sunday we still didn’t have the arena open for turnout but I had a lesson. It ended up being a combo lunging and riding lesson. I’d gotten there early to lunge him a bit so he could get his wiggles out before I got on. When I lunged him, he was very well behaved. But it was all a ruse. During grooming, he was quite the sassy butt and wanted to bite me constantly.

Since he was so wild, we decided to lunge him some more. He was so sassy. He tried to run off. He tried to stomp on the ground. He tried to turn. But we eventually got to a good place where he was behaving himself. The transitions during lunging are actually quite nice. I feel like I’m getting the intention part of asking him to trot down a lot better as he moved off very well.

After that, I tried to get on for a little. It took a few tries as he kept turning his head to bite me while I tried to mount so I kept having to back his ass up and do a bit more ground work. I think it took five or so tries. Once I got on though, it went fairly well. We started off with a hump in his back feeling. But a few circles and asking him to bend and yield took care of it. I was only on for less than 10 minutes but he gave me a pretty good feeling for a circle both directions.

We’re due more rain on Tuesday and several straight days of rain coming this weekend so it looks like January is going to be a literal wash as far as riding goes. Oh well. CA always needs the water so I have to remind myself that this is good.

Forward Thoughts

The end of this year is bringing in some much needed rain for California while the rest of the states got a ton of snow. I’ll take the rain but it sure does make it hard to ride. Unfortunately, all the arenas get shut down when there’s a decent amount of rain. So since I was out of town over the Christmas holiday, I haven’t been able to ride since the 21st. And it doesn’t look like I will be able to ride until the first full weekend in January, if that. It depends on how much rain we have and how quickly the arenas dry out afterward.

Ezio and I did happen to have what felt like a breakthrough right before I went on vacation. We had a riding lesson where Trainer J and I were trying to work through the hesitancy he had with the trot transition. It was becoming obvious that he wasn’t having issues understanding what I was asking any more but rather that he just wasn’t trotting. He never got worked up about the trot transition not working out, which was nice. Before training, any transition ask definitely caused him to get worked up.

During that lesson, Trainer J told me to ask for the transition with intention. Immediately after that, I was able to make him trot. That happened both directions. I had and still have no idea what I was doing any differently but it worked. It’s super frustrating when a change happens and I don’t know what did it.

In the ride following my lesson, I tried really hard to think about asking him to trot and actually meaning it. I don’t think I changed anything consciously other than that. But it worked. He trotted off the first time I asked both ways. So obviously something was changing. I was just excited that it worked out that ride. I got one more ride in before I left and it went the same way. I was able to do multiple circles both ways at the trot.

I was really hoping to have one ride before the end of the year so I could see if it was a breakthrough or a fluke. But that’s not how it worked out which isn’t the best but I will survive. I’m excited to get back on. If we’ve mostly worked through the trot transition issues, that means we can actually start to work at the trot and make sure that working can happen without Ezio adding tension to the ride. So next year looks fun riding wise.

So he likes to lay on his right side, I have found. Wow you are dirty horse.

Goal wise, I’ve never been one to set new year’s resolutions. I find them to be too much pressure and too specific. Goals aren’t something I want or should pick up just on one day. That said, I did find myself writing out some general goals that I wanted for the year. I ended up with more than I thought and some of them are quite personal but I’ll share a few here.

For Ezio, I want to be able to easily walk, trot and canter with him in 2023. This goal is probably extremely easy to achieve but I wanted to set this one easy so that there wasn’t too much pressure to achieve something. Plus this is one that I don’t have full control over myself since it does involve another creature. I think we will achieve it but as long as we’re improving, I’m happy.

I want to be in my best physical shape ever. I have a half marathon at the end of March that I’m training for which is part of that but I want to continue physically training myself after I finish the half. It’s a vague goal which I still need to figure out how to accomplish or judge but I think it’s a good one to try to help change my habits.

Another one is my reading goal for the year. 2022 had a reading goal of 85 new books. I only reached 45. That’s nothing to sneer at but I would like to read a lot more. I generally do but this last year has been rough for starting new things. I re-read a lot of favorite books. While I’m sure I will do more of that, I would like to start chipping away at my to be read list.

So there’s how I’m entering the new year. Rideless but with the memory of the last few good rides and some big goals for myself for the next year. I hope that 2023 treats everyone better than 2022 did. Happy New Year!

Not in the Plan

Whew. Been a month. Definitely had some interesting stuff happen. Basically right after the last post, it rained quite well here. The arenas at Ezio’s barn were closed for a day or two which wasn’t an issue. He can have a day or two off. I still needed to go out and give Scarlet his meds though. Off I went to the barn, feeding him, normal things. I walked back with the hose from filling his water. My feet disappear from under me, I head for the ground, hitting my shoulder on the muck bucket on the way down.

So yeah. Dramatic I know. But I slipped, fell and bruised the shit out of my tailbone. Felt like I’d knocked the breath out of me for a bit there. I was able to get up and get myself home but wow was everything painful. I had issues walking without any pain for a while. I definitely couldn’t ride so I asked Trainer J to ride him instead of me. So I fell on Wednesday. She rode him Friday and Saturday.

Sunday I took him out to free longe him. He was pretty good so I tried longing him with the line on Monday. That went okay. I finally got back on on the 15th. It definitely hurt but I was on. I kept him to the gate area while doing our little ride since he’s been spookier lately and I was pretty sure I couldn’t handle a spook buck. I couldn’t place my weight normally since the pressure going up my spine would hurt. I ended up perched on the saddle and I was pretty pleased with Ezio. He gave me some unsure of this ears but he didn’t freak out. He didn’t give me great work but I wasn’t able to swing with him so I didn’t blame him for that.

The next day was incredibly windy, gusts at like 30 mph so I did absolutely nothing with him. Then the next day, Thursday, I longed him a bit and changed to his bit to the new bit I’d picked up. Trainer J rode him that Friday. She thinks the bit is okay, but a little big for him. I ordered the next size down and have received it, but I haven’t tried it on him yet. I’ll get to it.

I got on him by myself that Saturday and rode. It was less painful than when I got on on Tuesday but still hurt. I managed to stay on for around 20 minutes. We got maybe 60% of a swingy walk since I couldn’t swing with him. But it went well enough given how I was feeling. Sunday I had a lesson and I felt roughly the same as the previous day. We got some okay walk work but had a good discussion on how we aren’t seeing a ton of improvement because he needs miles in this new way of going. Once he’s more comfortable and used to going about in a relaxed manner, things will be easier.

The next week was Thanksgiving week so Ezio got some extra time off as I had family visiting the day of and after. The day before, I tried to ride but Ezio was spooking and evading everything when I was tacking up. Since this was before work, I didn’t have the time to work through both the evading and get on and ride. So we put the tack on and off a bunch of times and then he got to stand tied. It was incredibly frustrating. I went out Saturday after thanksgiving prepared to longe and then ride him. But only longing happened. We went into the round pen and as soon as I let him off the lead, he sprinted around the edge of the pen for 15 minutes. It took a whole half hour before he had returned to a level where I thought I could walk him back. I don’t blame him for that day, but it was another non-riding day in a bad week, so it left me quite frustrated and feeling useless.

On my lesson on Sunday, I asked Trainer J to leave her helmet on since I’d been having issues with him and I’d like her as backup, just in case. I ended up being able to handle it all, but Ezio was quite pushy on the ground. I had to really go at him to get him to wake up and pay attention to me. The main thing was he was attempting to bite at me or grab his reins instead of focusing on work. Trainer J offered a new trick to see if we could address the biting. It is to flail around and slap your thighs when he moves in to bite. It startles him quite a bit versus smacking him makes it a bitey face game. So far, it really seems to be working. We did get some trotting in that lesson. Only a little bit but it was a lot more than I’d gotten in several weeks at that point.

For December, I’m putting him into three days a week training. I went out of town the first weekend and I’ll be out of town for Christmas as well so the three days a week allows him to still be worked while I’m out of town. And the other weeks I’ll be able to get two lessons. I also have regained a half an hour in my morning schedule by handing off my second team at work to the newbie. So no more 9am meetings. That extra half hour is going to be so key. I’ll actually have some wiggle room to work through antics and still be able to be on for 15-20 minutes for a good short ride.

The Ride for the Day

The last week of full training and the first week of partial training has yielded a lot of different scenarios to practice working with Ezio in. As much as it would be delightful to have a perfect horse to start riding on my own again, these new things that come up are making me a better rider and horse person, I believe.

Friday and Saturday before Halloween were good lessons. We’ve finally figured out how to transition from the walk to the trot without freaking out. So we were able to do two reasonable trot circles on Friday and some good trotting both ways on Saturday. We even ended the ride after just trotting a bit on Saturday since it was great right from the start.

Sunday was a different story. We had a late lesson as we had to wait until Trainer J got back from a local schooling show. I got there and got him out of his pen. We walked over a hose he’s walked over before and he spooked. I dealt with him but he continued to spook and try to run around. I eventually got him tied up to the crosstie but oh boy did I know I was in for it.

Brushing him was an ordeal and I didn’t even try his feet by the time things were really going haywire. Trainer J walked up and I straight up told her, “He’s got feelings today. A LOT of feelings.” And shortly after he spooked so hard I had to yank on my quick release knot to let him back up. I looked at Trainer J and said, “I’m not sure we should ride.” She agreed and asked if I just wanted to cancel. I said no as I don’t want him to think he can get away with whatever this attitude was. He needs to work but lets just try groundwork.

This face couldn’t possibly be naught. Not at all

I grabbed my bridle as I wanted the bit for extra pay attention incentive and decided that I’d just bridle him in the arena since he was not being good enough that I felt like I could get that on. We had to wait at the gate while someone came out of the arena and Ezio tried to freak the hell out and walk over top of me. I was attempting to deal with it but it was escalating past a point where I felt comfortable when Trainer J stepped in and grabbed the lead and whip from me. I’d just been about to ask for her help so it was perfect. She sat him back on his ass and reminded him that he was NOT to walk over humans. EVER.

After he settled slightly from that, she walked him into the arena and had to remind him again that you did not walk on top of humans. We did get his bridle on and did some ground work as we’d been practicing before getting on. We had to work quite hard at it to get him to actually focus on us. After the ground work, we did some practice just leading him around. Trainer J gave me some tips to keep him from walking over me and paying attention to me.

So that Sunday wasn’t the ride I wanted but it was the “ride” he needed that day. And after all this training, that’s pretty much what we’re working on. We do the ride that he needs that day. Sometimes that’s not getting on, sometimes that includes trotting, sometimes its only walking. But it is what it is that day. We continue to encounter new “issues” with him each ride that we’re now able to get through without a huge blow up because I now have the tools to get down to a level that works for him in that day. And I really appreciate having those tools now. I feel like a better rider and a better horse person.