10.08.28: The Right Frame of Mind

After five long weeks Kirsten was finally back at Graham for a much needed lesson. Anne didn't sign up for a lesson with Tali, so it was just Storm and I at 5:00 in the afternoon.
I headed up a little early to get him ready so we would have a little extra warm up time since we had not had any time to work for almost a month.
Joe came down and helped me tack up to watch everything that we had to do. Storm wasn't too dirty, so it didn't take too long to get him groomed up a bit and tacked. Joe offered to lead him down to the round pen, so Steph and I headed out the back door and down to the arena to ask Melina to take Santana out of the round pen where he was chilling out after her lesson. Jim hollered up the hill that I forgot my horse, and I laughed and pointed to the end of the barn where Joe was coming out the door and around the corner.
We got started warming up in the round pen working on trot transitions until Kirsten was finished up with Beth. Storm was fairly responsive, but I could also tell that he was not completely tuned into me. He wasn't not paying attention, but at the same time he wasn't was locked on as well has he usually is. Kirsten came over about the time we changed directions on the circle to work on his more challenging direction. He was being fairly responsive, and so Kirsten suggested we take it to the next level and ask him to work on maintaining the trot to be able to develop his impulsion and balance at the same time. We increased the transitions so that he was only allowed to walk a few steps before we asked for the trot again. It was interesting to see how he handled the full circle rather than having to fight with the curves of the round pen not being consistent. He was still slowing down, or struggling to pick up the trot in certain spots where there had been a sharper bend before. It took a long time, but finally he was able to make a full lap of the round pen at the trot, and then we left him alone to walk again for another lap before asking for the trot again. When he finally completed a lap the first time he did really well staying loose in all the right places, and I laughed and told him he was a good boy, and he turned in to face me, so I rubbed his nose and sent him back out on the circle again. He asked to stop a couple other times, but I gently reminded him to move on and he continued. He was able to complete more laps, but it still took a lot of transitions in order to get a complete lap. But that is part of the balance of whoa and go that has to be refined. He was able to do more in balance again, but was still having fits and starts of being in and out of balance.
We reversed direction again, and worked on his right side, and repeated the pattern. He was able to improve faster and was also able to get more connected to me, which made me feel better. Kirsten suggested that I let him walk for a few laps and then get ready to mount up. I checked the saddle and got my stirrups set up and then climbed the rail to set him up so I could mount. He lined himself up very nicely and I slid on and he waited for a few moments, which was great. We started walking, and Kirsten set us up with the same exercise that we worked on the last time I rode, walking for 10 steps, then halting to the count of 10. If he tried to walk off too soon, I had to stop him again and start counting again. For a while I wasn't able to get past two, before I had to halt him and start over again. Eventually he would wait through, and I was able to ask him to walk off again.
We had been working for a while when things started happening and Storm started to get worked up. There were a lot of people watching, including Joe and Jeanne, and Jayden was running around a bit, and Santana was hanging out but Melina had to move him around a little bit to keep him backed up out of the way. About that same time, the boys came THUNDERING up out of the back of south, and Storm got more freaked out. Kirsten immediately helped redirect him by instructing me to move him into a pattern of halting for 3 and walking for 3. If he got super fixated on something outside the round pen, I had to turn him into the center of the round pen. He was allowed to turn around again and face what he wanted to see but then we had to turn around right again. He was moving really quickly and was really alert and nervous. I was concerned that I was going to have to get off, and almost did. But at the same time I was concerned that if I tried to get off he would move around a lot and I would have to jump down more than be able to carefully slide down. I stayed on, and managed ok but it sure was scary for a while. Kirsten told me after the lesson that she was also very concerned, and almost told me to get down.
Finally Storm calmed down and we were able to continue working to make some more progress walking and halting again. Finally he got into a good space where the whoa and go were a lot more equal again. I finally moved him over to the fence and climbed off again. He did very well, despite his brief freak out.
The longer I was off the horse the more my body let me know just how tense I had been when he was worried about things. We headed to dinner and hung out for a while relaxing. When we finished up we checked in with Kirsten to make sure we had all the details organized for our trip on Wednesday evening. A few ibuprophin helped make sleeping a little bit easier.