Today was just one of those days. You know the ones. Things just don’t go right, no matter how you try. This was my day! Hamish has been amazing in the recent weeks, months even. He’s made a lot of progress and we have been putting in some really hard work. Amazingly and much to my absolute delight, our Chiro Ellie looked at her notes to see he has even gained some top line muscle since she first treated him just over a year ago – not bad for an old boy hey!! Riding him has been really fun. He’s a horse that wants to work, to try his best to please you and I like that in him. But, he is also a horse who knows his own mind and at the age of 23, he has decided he does not like to be ‘told’ what to do.
I arrived at the yard around 4.30pm, not that it felt like it with it still being so bright and sunny. I can’t believe how quickly the evenings are getting light – this is the time of year we have all been longingly awaiting. It was refreshing to know I can do my entire weekday evening schooling session in the day light – no flood lights on and dark, spooky corners. I (mistakenly) had really positive vibes for that evenings ride.
Hamish was grumpy when I brought him in, most likely because he’s hungry and bored of this cold winter weather we’ve been having. The hay he had whilst he was tied up for grooming and tacking up didn’t fill much of a gap, I don’t think – I can totally understand his ‘hangry’ attitude, I can’t really function whilst I am hungry either. Long story short, it was a pretty crappy session. I could tell Hamish didn’t want to be in there. His strides were short, choppy and tense. He was fighting against me on the left, giving nothing away and when I tried to ask for anymore from him I got a swish of the tail and a stompy back leg. I knew straight away, from the first tail swish that I had annoyed him and if I am totally honest I felt disappointed and guilty that I wasn’t able to have given him a better ride. I knew I had tried my hardest but I also knew I could have done better, thinking that perhaps if I didn’t get after him so much at the beginning or perhaps if I didn’t give him that tap with the stick to try and engage the left hind he might not have gotten so uptight and cross.
Looking back on it now, he’s quite comical; he knows his own mind, although 9 out of 10 times, he is an absolute angel, if you tell him to do something instead of asking (and that’s a fine line), then you get met with grumpy Ham. I like this cheeky, cantankerous side to him, it keeps me in check.
The main reason I wanted to write this post (and no, it wasn’t just to rant…!), is because I realised something when I was riding him this evening that I think we should all keep in mind. Even when it doesn’t go to plan and you don’t have the great session you want, even when it is really, really crap and you feel you’re getting nowhere; there is a positive to be taken from it. The bad days make us appreciate the good and who said progress and success was ever meant to be easy? I managed to get a good 10 minutes’ walk and trot work at the end and simple as it was, it was a break through and we ended on a good note – we were both happy. I think this is always really important, not just for the horses but for us. No one wants to get off at the end of the ride feeling totally deflated. If you can get something good, even if it is just a nice relaxed walk or some good rhythmical trot work, then you’ve accomplished something and you’ve ended winning a battle – this always makes me feel more positive and makes me look forward to the next session, instead of dreading it!
I am quite the perfectionist and it can be easy to over think things when they go wrong, questioning yourself and what you could have done better, feeling guilty for not giving your horse a good ride. Truth is, we aren’t perfect and sometimes we just have to accept that it is what it is. I feel lucky and grateful to have Hamish and be able to spend so much time doing something that I love. The bad days are soon forgotten by the good ones that follow and that’s why I don’t dwell on them.
Today I had the school booked, the weather was lovely again and I tacked Hamish up for a quiet ride in the school and he was excellent. Back to his normal self, wanting to work and he really felt amazing. We finished and watched the pretty pink sky as the sun was setting, before putting him to bed for a well-deserved dinner and lots of carrots. It just goes to show how different things can be from one day to the next! Accept the bad days, don’t dwell on them and take something positive from every ride, big or small, to help you be able to look forward to the next one with the determination to be better.