I am back from a week out of the country for work and as of last night, officially moving in the right direction again with Sunny.
Here’s the long story, short about how things have been so far: I have been riding Sunny for about a month and a half. Things were great and then they were not good at all and now they are good again. I’m not entirely sure what happened but my guess is it was a combination of a few things. Sunny is an opinionated limit-tester and he likes to be the one making the decisions. Conversely, I am a novice recreational rider who doesn’t own him and is prone to occasional bouts of over-thinking, loss of self-confidence, and animal personification. I ended up having to cancel a lesson on him the day of because he immediately acted up the second I asked him for a warm-up trot on a loose rein and I decided his back must be bothering him because he’d been like that every ride the previous week. Bucking, kicking out, stomping, tossing his head, yanking the bit, refusing to bend, pinning his ears etc. I make every attempt to be a sympathetic and sensitive rider, almost to a fault, and I just couldn’t understand what had changed from the first two weeks of him being a perfect angel to this fire breathing dragon. He was quiet on the ground; did not appear to have any sort of injury of any kind; saddle fit has been checked fairly recently; and though he has had some back soreness in the past he’d even been seen by a chiropractor not long ago. I was perplexed. So I did what any good leaser should do and called the owner and explained what had been going on and asked her to come out and watch me ride. She did and he pulled some of his same stunts and then I had to leave for my work trip. She lunged him a couple of times while I was gone but did not ride. When I got back on Sunday, I met her at the barn and we lunged him and I rode him and he was much better but we changed way too many things for me to identify which one made the difference. He had had a break from being ridden so if there was any back soreness or a bruise it would have had some chance to heal; She had reduced his grain; and I carried a whip for the first time since I started riding him. Last night I added to the list of changes and rode him with a ThinLine half-pad instead of his normal fleece half pad. He was great last night. I hope things continue in this direction and that whatever it was that made the difference for us, continues to help. I am having a lot of fun working with him despite it being a bigger challenge than I am used to.