Tristan is my darling lesson horse. I call him “My Grumpy Old ManHorse”. He tries to nip when you tighten the girth. He tries to nip when you say hi. He is a “dominant” horse and unless he feels that you top him, he is going to put you in your place.
He is a fairly easy ride — at first, thu being a lesson horse. When you are just learning, he gives you leeway. He doesn’t try to make you work for the lesson. He gives you this false sense of success. As I am starting to progress, he is making me work for leadership. He tries to pull the reigns out of my hands when I am posting. He tries to avoid obstacles. He tries to shorten his corners. He randomly decides he wants to stop. He is just trying to take the easy way.
My instructor, A, is telling me what I need to work on. And for the past few lessons I have been working on it. He and I have been having the battle of wills.
For ground work I have been watching videos on suggestions and I have found a guy I like his POV. Tristan and I are doing great on groundwork now. He doesn’t go for me any more. He doesn’t even pin his ears at me any more. I listen to his body language and express my expectations in a way he can understand.
He and I battled a bit last night on his riding stuff and I WON! Okay I feel like a little kid, but about 5 minutes in we were making progress. No more reign pulling. I am communicating before trot polls so he is doing the right thing. I know my communication was off, which is completely my fault. But this communication thing is really the most important. If he does something I didn’t want, it is my fault because I didn’t express myself properly. This has led me to be very conscious of what I do with all of my body.
But the rewarding part was the end. While I was waiting for kiddo to bring Calli out for the walk back to the barn after lesson. He and I were standing side by side. He got his carrot treats, after which he usually ignores my existence (“silly human has no food, I do not need her now”). Instead he nuzzled me on the shoulder and then on my face. I got my first face kiss from Tristan. I didn’t flinch as I wasn’t afraid of him biting me, I was just in shock and then awe. He and I have built a relationship of respect. I can not think of something more rewarding than to have him nuzzle-kiss me.