This week’s ride started off on a low note. Really low. When my sister and I arrived at the barn early Saturday morning we quickly discovered there was a lot of commotion going on – dump trucks, tractors, quads and the usual pack of Bernese Mountain dogs running about. Luc walked easily past all of it on the way inside, but that’s where his calm demeanor stopped. He was a complete basket case in the barn, despite the fact there were several other horses inside who didn’t seem to bat an eye at any of it. But not Luc. He danced, he pranced and he pooped – a lot. The stress of it all was clearly getting to him, and that was getting to me.
By the time we finished tacking up, we were both bundles of nerves. My sister assured me he would be better once he could see what was going on again. He likes to be able to look at things that scare him and he’s never been a big fan of being inside the barn. As the main door was blocked, we had to mount up in the arena and head outside through the big door at the scary end. Luc stood stalk still while I got on – I think he was too fixated on the open door to notice I was even there. He then moved forward cautiously, and miraculously walked out the big scary door without incident.
Once outside he did seem to settle a bit, so I decided to go ahead with my original plan for the ride. I wanted to take him out in the big open fields (not the small one I ventured out into previously). He had been good out there all week with my sister onboard, so I thought it was time to take him out there myself. I was wrong. It was not the time. We got about five feet into the first field and he stopped dead, eyes wide, staring at another horse and rider further out. No problem. He likes to look. I tried to push him forward. He chose to go backwards at warp speed instead.
Now I know Luc pretty well, and while he has come a long way behaviour wise out in the big fields, he does still occasionally throw a tantrum – and this was the first sign it was about to start. I needed to do something fast or risk him rearing on me, his go to move. So I pushed him forward again, but we continued to go backwards. I ended up pulling his head to his hip and going around and around and around until he settled. We tried again to move forward. Nope. Same thing happened. By now the horse from further out in the field was right beside us, offering to give us some company. Luc knows the horse, they’ve been out on the trails together before, but he still wouldn’t settle. After my third time of feeling like I was stuck on a merry go round where I all could do is go in circles, I admitted defeat. I had my sister grab hold of him and lead us back to the sand ring in what I like to call the walk of shame.
Head hung low I was feeling pretty discouraged. Luc had acted up and I hadn’t been able to handle it or work him through it. So much for getting my confidence in the tack back. But that’s where the high note comes in. Once we were safely enclosed in the familiar confines of the ring, Luc was amazing – even with the dump trucks working right beside us. He was round and relaxed and incredibly pleasant to put through his paces. If you ignored what happened during the first 15 minutes of our ride, it was actually one of our best. By the end of the ride I was feeling pretty good. It’s hard to stay mad at a horse as adorable as he is, even if he was a bit of a donkey at the beginning.
In hindsight it was probably not my wisest moment deciding to take Luc out into the fields when I knew he was already wound up. It was an epic fail on my part, but at least it ended on a high note, and not with me in the dirt. He’ll go back to working in the fields next week with my sister, who isn’t nearly as easy on him as I am, and I’ll try again on another day – maybe one where there isn’t as much going on.