Big Boy Pants

The weekend came, and with it another schedule change. Trainer T was heading out of town on Sunday and needed to do some reorganizing. My lesson was pushed back to 10am, and I was riding with another adult.

I was super excited for this. I like semi-private lessons because you still get a lot of attention without all the focus being on you for 100% of the ride. Riding with someone else also means that I get to take more breaks. It was a win/win.

While we were waiting for the lesson before us to end, I asked a little bit about her horse. She rides a lovely, young Thoroughbred mare that did a little race training, had a baby, then sat for a while. They've only been together for a few months, but even in that time, the mare has also become a cross tie breaker. We laughed at being the only two to get cross ties for Trainer T for Christmas. I also found it kind of funny to put the two crazy OTTBs in a lesson together. Much to my shock and dismay, both of them were stellar. In fact, the only wild animal in the ring was Destello who ditched his rider and took a lap around the farm almost immediately after entering the ring . . .

The jumps have been slightly altered as of late, and some poles were down to encourage someone's horse not to drift. This was a perfect opportunity to send Fuego forward over the poles. We meandered around the ring. He gave a good working trot, which gave me the opportunity to, uhh, actually put my heels down instead of pinning them in his sides in an attempt to get him to move out. In the past, he has given me some hesitation when first going to a pole on the flat, but I wanted to avoid that situation and keep the rhythm. He was a good boy and didn't hesitate at all. We also got the left lead on the first try. I'm thinking that crossing the diagonal, adding leg, slight right bend, and then asking for the canter will get the lead consistently. The poles were also incorporated into our canter work. That was a little more blegh as I had to work out the striding going both directions. But man did he feel great. His canter is always smooth and fun, but he felt so balanced and was even able to have some better self carriage going to the left.

The course for the day is below. Warm up was going over the first line, trotting in, cantering out. We did it three times on its own. The first time was absolutely fantastic, super calm and floaty. As we kept going through it, he became more and more forward and strong. It wasn't anything crazy, but I was worried he was becoming undone.

We took a break after those first three attempts, and Trainer T gave us the course. I asked if I could try trotting in and trotting out of the first line in the fear that it would escalate. She recommended against it because he was still relatively calm but asked me to pick up some contact, bring my shoulders back, and give a gentle half halt. I kept it in mind and started my course.

Immediately when I picked up the trot, he had a melt down. He got racy and broke into a canter, so we had to do a circle. Then when trying to approach the fence at a trot, he did his little sideways movement and curled behind the vertical. Another circle, some outside leg, and lots of good boy's later, he popped over the fence and went through the line like usual. He settled pretty quickly on the out and broke to a trot when asked. As we headed to the next fence, he was . . . backed off??? Like, I legitimately had to convince him to move forward to it. And add significant leg off the ground, which did not work. He went over it like a whale as if to tell me that I'm the one taking all of this way too seriously. He was wiggly through the last line but overall a solid citizen and kept his head on his very large shoulders.

The week prior, in a lesson with a different rider, same fence, just larger. If you
look closely, you'll notice he knocked the rail . . . on a 12" fence. This guy boggles me.

We did the course maybe three or four times, and he was remarkably consistent. Was he strong through the first line? Yah. Did he jump the diagonal like it was a pole on the ground? Yah. Did he fall on his right shoulder through the last line? Yah. BUT, he didn't get any stronger, he actually got straighter to the first fence, and he was still completely manageable through the whole thing. Like I said, it's a win/win if you ask me.

So yeah, that's how I did my first course on Fuego! I guess he did kind of have a moment as we were going over the diagonal one time. Destello was in the line of sight and spooked because he doesn't like other horses moving at him (he's so weird). Destello gave a baby spook, Fuego gave a toddler spook, and then Destello gave a pre-teen spook and nearly unseated his rider for the second time. And yes, he nearly unseated her for a third time before my lesson was even done. I promise these horses are building my confidence, even if they have their Dumb & Dumber moments.


  1. sounds overall pretty positive! occasional quirks in a horse are definitely easier to deal with when they're consistent and predictable haha

    1. Seriously. The first time I rode him was like ???? why are you like this??? And even tho I find it kind of obnoxious that he still snorts and walks slowly into the crossties every. single. time. he's still a precious baby and doing his best.

  2. Nice to read about riding with rider's personal thoughts and going through same experience.


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