Tuesday the 8th, I met up with E for a "trail ride" around the property. Sherlock was a bit of a baby, just nervous his first time riding out, in the snow. Especially when Annie and the others threw a fit when we rode past. He started backing up and taking advantage of circling to get closer to the paddock, but he didn't panic and started forward again when E's horse walked on. He wouldn't go up the snowy hill behind hay barn to the pond, we went back to the outdoor arena and worked walk/trot for a few minutes, then came back but he had a fit there again. This time I dismounted and led him up and down the hill, then continued a while on foot on the road, met up with E at the pond and re-mounted from the fishing boat, and finished up well. A bit messy but I felt it was a success, he eventually did everything I'd asked and didn't rear up or slip in the snow.
In the evening E texted me an offer to ride Sherlock for me and "make him" behave. I know it was meant well and she is a very experienced trainer but I declined, feeling very depressed about the possibility of having her as my next trainer. Woke up in the dead of night mad about it. Thought about the techniques that worked best for Sherlock in his most problematic time so far- trailer loading. Joe Andrews loaded him calmly and with no bribes or threats. I want that relationship-first type of training.
Thursday the 10th I rode in the indoor before the farrier arrived. Tried out my oldest sheepskin as an English saddle pad- hard to put on straight but he rode quite well in it. Walk/trot wearing the sidepull halter, turned a barrel, carried the lunge whip in both hands as a prelude to archery training. Calm and well-behaved. Great ride.
He was quite good for the farrier, he did flail a bit with his hind feet but every time with a little correction on the halter he relaxed and released without having to put his foot down. Lots of pets and a mint at the end. Farrier M very pleased- she said he's really improving and clearly our relationship is getting really special. I was very pleased and hummed all the way home.
So this week seems to be about handling what other people think. I know we as human social animals are made to socialze and care what each other think. I wish I didn't care so much- but I have also not given in to advice that I thought was wrong for me and Sherlock. People thought I was failing with Lissa when I trained her but I refused to let anyone help and I got the best horse out of it. I will remember Sherlock is just a 5 year-old half-blind racehorse newly off the track, be forgiving, take my time, and love Sherlock for himself and what we can enjoy together rather than what other people think he should do.
I plan to call J to see if she might still have lessons spaces this spring.