Fast forward to the next time I got the chance to ride him. New rider, new horse. We were riding along and he spooked at the same place he spooked at the day I first rode him (but his owner was riding him then, and schooled him out of it) and went bolting to the other side of the arena. I was able to stick it and calm him down, and go back to working.
Since then, I have been having trouble syncing up with him. I tried the cues I was taught, but I don't think I executed them correctly, and it just made a mess of things. I was constantly off balance, and I felt my seat was becoming poor. Then he started getting in the habit of trotting at specific points, and then eventually breaking into a really fast canter. I stuck them all, except for today. It had become progressively worse, the last time I rode I nearly hopped off after a bolt because it was becoming dangerous, and he, harder to control. It wasn't until today, when all he would do was bolt. And it wasn't the kind I could stick. My nine lives were up. He stopped very abruptly at a fence line, and launched me onto his neck. I realized I wasn't even in the saddle any more! So I somehow managed to fix that mid canter as he stopped abruptly again at the fence line, once more launching me on his neck and I did a quasi-emergency dismount.
I decided that I needed to nip this NOW. No more excuses, no more holding off. I put him back in the cross ties and asked for his owners help. Poor dear... She hurt her back and you could tell she was in serious pain, but she actually helped me.
Turns out it was all my fault. I was teaching him bad habits, and I was just enforcing him to behave badly. Instead of turning circles when he raised his head (a sign that he was ready to bolt), I just tried slowing him down. I let him dictate speeds we were going instead of properly using half halts and using my seat. All the things I was trying NOT to do, I did... And I feel really bad for it. I let him push me around instead of being a leader and taking control. The imbalance I was feeling? I caused myself by leaning forward instead of rolling my shoulders back. Once she told me to, I felt so much more in control and balanced.
I have decided until I can better control his bells and whistles, I will only ride during lessons with his owner. At least the ride ended on a good note, when I was able to actually collect him, control him, and get him working his butt and round out a bit. It felt great being able to do that, and having a beautifully collected canter out of him instead of some messy thing where my butt flops in the air and my hands are fussing with the contact and stuff.
Bleh. I just needed to get this off my chest. I still feel pretty crappy about it, but I can only learn from it. I hope.
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