Today was... interesting! The other day at Cindys', she was commenting on Dan's bad behavior. I mentioned that Fleck was thinking the same thoughts, he was just too disciplined to act on them. Cindy snorted and said "Sure... Fleck can do no wrong" or something to that effect. Peri giggled and said "he does wrong, you just get a kick out of it". The funny thing is... I was thinking... "Wait.. was Fleck really naughty today or are they just teasing?". Like, I really couldn't remember if he had been a bit goofy or not. So anyways... today proved that he CAN be a butt.
Kelli and I met up for a little jump session and a hack. I wanted to work on my leg and ... well, honestly... I figured that I might as well push the envelope a bit so that Dr. Bob could see him while he was actually sore and not just when he's vague. (Our appt is Tuesday). So I figured I would jump a little. We warmed up and then jumped the grid once. He was pretty good over it although he scurried a little on the right hand turn after. So we went through again and had plans to roll back to the red vertical. Well, Fleck was spooking at the judges stand and our approach wasn't great, but I did manage to get him mostly supple before we came through the grid. On landing he bolted a bit but I was careful to not snatch him in the face and let him settle into a regular canter and then we were able to canter a fence at the opposite end of the arena. After Kelli did her go, I went back to do the grid again and was going to do the other line after. Well... after I jumped the grid, Fleck bolted! Like flat out go for broke bolted. I don't know why, but all I was thinking was "Don't punish him and make him invert". So... in typical Holly fashion, I went to the extreme and basically threw the reins at him. In my defense, I was trying to supple him with my legs and upper body, but it didn't work. We ended up making almost two laps at a dead bolt before I finally got pissed and ripped his face off. So then... I started crying because.. instead of just riding him normally and asking him to stop, I went from saying nothing to yelling at him. Instead of going from nothing, to a whisper to stop, then to a firm stop, I went straight to a screaming "stop". Sigh. He stopped though. But I broke down. I mean... why do I always punish him? He's really only doing what I ask?! And then I was crying because maybe he's bolting because he hurts. I'm concerned that he hurts when he lands, so he bolts. Thank goodness for Kelli because she talked me down a bit. Then she went so I could breathe for a minute. Then I did some transitions and Fleck was polite so I took him over the outside line. He was running at them a bit but he did pay attention when I talked (in a normal voice...not screaming) to him and settled after only a few strides of getting quick. I did a few more jumps and realized that I was really being too passive. I'm so afraid of messing up his retraining or making him hurt, that I"m not doing anything. And not only am I not doing anything, I'm not helping him. Sigh... I can't win anymore. I just..... don't know what to do. :( I did manage to ride a slightly more collected uphill canter to a fence and keep my body upright and we got a decent fence with a decent back side. I quit with that and then we went for a hack and soaked his legs in the lake for 10 minutes.
It was a good and bad ride. The bad, obviously, and because I still don't know if the bolting is fear or pain or just because it's been so long and he's excited. The good though, is that it was a lot of fun jumping again. Even if it was a little terrifying at times. And... we worked on my leg. I was really thinking I was going to need to sell my saddle and buy another one because I was fighting my leg so much. But Kelli suggested I raise my stirrup another hole and... it really was good. I didn't have to fight so much to get my leg where it belonged and it felt like it was behaving and not swinging too much. I also think that if I think a little bit about pinching with my knee, it actually works for me. It's not that I want to pinch with my knee, but by thinking of closing my knee, it actually closes my upper calf on him. And that secures my upper body more. I don't know what was the key phrase or what I was even really thinking about, but... I kind of liked my leg today. :) So there is that. ;)
But really... this is so emotionally exhausting. I really hope that I can fix him and fix him well enough that I can stop riding the "broken" horse and start riding my horse - start riding him to ride and not riding him looking for the lame step constantly. I'd like to be able to ride and work on proper riding rather than focusing on whether I felt a funky step or not. So.. fingers crossed, praying hard, and hoping for the best.