Faxx gets back to work

Faxx has been on hiatus long enough. The problem is that my ‘new and improved’ arena has turned out to be completely unrideable after any sort of rain. So the only place I have to ride is in the pasture, or in the round pen. I have been reluctant to ride Faxx in the pasture. He’s huge, he moves even huger and since he’s also wide, I cannot ‘stick’ him like I can Faeryn and Fling. I did ride him briefly in the field the other night – after first locking the other horses in the small paddock, which, in itself is a pain in the butt. Faxx was a bit ‘up’ about being in the field, and also having his buddies so ‘far’ away – but he behaved. But it’s very time-consuming to get him, then herd the other horses into the small paddock, after first having to herd Mike’s horse, Thor, into the back paddock. Thor does not ‘play well with others’ and is in solitary confinement. All the above adds a lot of leg work, and about 15 minutes extra to the equation. So, the round pen, while the more convenient option, is very boring. But, it’s the option of least effort, and I am forever living by the clock, and it IS lighted.

So, after I rode Fling in the field, and after dinner last night (and after the horses’ dinner) I got Faxx out to ride. It was almost 9 by this time and he was just a bit indignant, as he was expecting his nightly alfalfa, not work! He was a good boy, but has really backslid in his willingness to take quiet connection with the bit. Faxx is laid back on the outside, but internalizes his ‘nerves’ resulting in chomping the bit, or not taking contact. Fortunately he is taking contact, but he’s constnatly chomp, chomp, chomping on the bit. It drives me nuts – but I know the only kind and effective way to deal with this is to ignore it, and just be as calm, consistent and quiet with my riding as I possibly can be. Even when Faxx got wound up about something rustling in the pasture (probably a bunny!) I just stayed neutral and zen-like and kept asking for leg yields, more bend, etc.  Around and around we went, and finally he literally took a big breath and relaxed a bit.

Patience is the key. And, perhaps it’s time to revisit a different bit. The baucher turned out to be his favorite bit after trying many I had, and buying many more during the past two years. I’ll drag out all the snaffle bits and see if his taste in bits has changed. Otherwise, it’s just time in the saddle, and me telling myself he’s been mostly unridden since the beginning of November.

I really don’t know how people up North, who often have to completely give up riding every winter, make any progress – at least if they’re training dressage. I am lucky in that Faeryn and Fling can have a layoff and come back very quickly, with all the ‘buttons’ still there, and not much different for the hiatus. Faxx is not that way – it’s not like he’s at all naughty or is going to be spooky or buck – but he definitely takes longer to get ‘up to speed.’  But that’s ok. I have no timetable for his training, and he’s a very talented horse – probably the most talented horse I’ve ever owned – and he’s worth the extra time.

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