I’ve now been back in the saddle for more than a month, and while I feel like I’m getting a little stronger every ride, Luc likes to remind me that I still have a long way to go before I’m back in fighting form. This week he really kept me humble. Every time I asked him to go, he would shuffle in a general forward direction at a pace slower than molasses. He just felt sticky and I couldn’t find the key to getting him unstuck.
After several good minutes of trying – and failing miserably – at getting any kind of forward momentum, my sister suggested it might be time to bring out the big guns. I was hesitant at first, there’s something to be said for being able to make Luc move on my own, but I’m not too prideful to take a little help when necessary. And it was definitely necessary. So, we brought out the go stick. The long dressage whip felt awkward in my hand at first, but I knew that given Luc’s current stubborn mood it was the only thing standing between me and a ride where all I would accomplish would be a few measly steps strung together, punctuated with long stretches of squeezing to little effect.
Now it’s been a long time since I’ve had to juggle both reins and whip, and I was concerned my coordination just might not be as great as it once was. Thankfully with Luc you don’t actually have to use the whip. Just holding it is enough to spur him into action. That made things marginally easier, but didn’t solve the problems I had when changing direction. I would try to smoothly switch it from hand to hand the way I did when I regularly carried one. Only instead of a streamlined motion, it ended with the whip tangled in the reins and me having to pull Luc up just so I could get everything organized again. He didn’t mind the breaks. He never does.
The ride wasn’t all a struggle. As I mentioned, Luc is much more motivated to move forward when I have the whip in my hand. We managed to get a lovely forward walk, a springy trot and a rhythmical canter. There were a few single poles spread out around the ring and I even felt confident enough to try them, first at a trot, and then at a canter. As it turns out, Luc enjoyed the challenge. We both put in way more oomph than was necessary to make it over the poles, looking like we were jumping a two-foot fence. But it was so much fun and motivated me even more to continue working toward building my strength up. I even managed to keep the whip securely in my hand.
Too bad I couldn’t say the same thing about when I got off. I should have gone with my first instinct and just dropped the whip on the ground before dismounting. I made it the entire ride without accidentally hitting Luc, or myself, with it, but getting off I managed to clock myself in the head with the handle. Thankfully it didn’t leave much of a mark. I did drop the whip then, but good ole Luc picked it up for me. Of course then I had to wrestle it back out of his mouth. Luckily for me it wasn’t until the next day that he figured out how to hit people with it. Does it make me a terrible sister that I laughed out loud when Luc grabbed the whip out of Jen’s hand after their ride and hit her not, once, not twice, but three times in the leg with it? I didn’t think so.