Had my 3rd Lesson yesterday and WOW what an eye opening experience. The trainer I've been working with is also the owner of the stables I go to. The horse I want to ride/lease is out for a few weeks in recovery so I've been taking lessons on a younger TB mare that has a little attitude and a few quirks.
On my last lesson, we went out to the arena, which had recently been cleaned up and redone. The mare was instantly uneasy and the trainer said this was because everything looked different. Outside the fence was a swinging bench and it started swinging in the wind. If the trainer hadn't been holding the lead, the mare would've bolted with me on her back. She was extremely alert and uneasy, so we spent the next 20 min with the trainer leading her around the arena (me on her back), and the trainer shooshing her, talking softly and attempting to soothe her. She even had one of her barn hands saddle up another horse and bring up to ride to reassure her that all was okay. I never felt completely safe and at ease after the spook, so we did the entire lesson with the trainer leading her and me on her back. During this lesson, she tried to reach back and bite my boot several times. and even bit one of the barn hands, breaking skin, earlier while I was grooming her.
Now this trainer was honest with me from the start that she was going to guide me through all the basics and meanwhile, HER trainer and mentor would take me further when I was ready. Well, yesterday I went for another lesson after work and the other trainer was there (relief). She is AWESOME and has been involved with every aspect of horses for more than 40 yrs. She even organizes the Winter Classics here in my area.
Anyhow, here we go again. Same horse and I'm of course nervous. We get up to the arena and before I have even climbed on - BOOM! Gunshots. The mare freaks out, jumps back, then starts to bolt right towards the trainer. I can only think "Get the hell outta the way!" before she gives that mare 2 hard yanks on the lead and two swift pops on the shoulder. And just like that, she came back to her senses! Lol. The gunshots continued as someone was popping off in the woods, but it was like the mare instantly recognized that the authority standing in front of her was far more important than the gunshots. From there, the trainer explained to me the importance of establishing control and space, and that she corrected the horse not for being scared, but for moving into her. She also said that they shoot guns out there all the time and there was no reason for her to act out like that.
She then went into lunging the mare and getting out all that pent up tension. She taught me the signs to look for when the horse was relaxed and making it clear to the horse what she expected.
I rode the same, but a completely different horse. The trainer kept a long lead on her during the lesson, but this mare was easy going the entire time. I was able to focus on my riding and my lesson without fear that the horse was going to bolt or freak out with me on her back or bite the crap outta me. It was like she just understood that my trainer was in control and the only thing she needed to worry about was what I was asking her to do. It was amazing!
I am learning so much with each lesson. I just hope I can do more work with this trainer instead. She's an amazing instructor, and oh, I posted the trot! Teehee!