Seana Adamson is back with the latest installment of her rehabilitation adventures from her young horse’s major injury, describing a common fear: how to ride a powder-keg that feels ready to explode.
If you are new to Seana and Eragon’s story, catch up on past installments: “The Long Road Back: How to Rehab Your Baby Dragon,” “Rehabbing Your Baby Dragon: The Second Month,” “Rehabbing Your Baby Dragon: Adventures in Handwalking,” “Rehabbing Your Baby Dragon: 5 Truths About Handwalking” and “Rehabbing Your Baby Dragon: Four Months of Handwalking Later …”
Such a frustrating day on Eragon today. I know he’s just coming back to work and my expectations shouldn’t be too high, but I could feel the tension in his body from the moment I sat down on his back. The tension started slowly, but seemed to grow as the work progressed. I tried to relax and breathe. I scanned my body for where I might be holding tension. I scanned my surroundings for any sign of threat. I could find nothing out of the ordinary.
As the work continued his power seemed to build, but not in a good way. Was he hurting somewhere? Could he be starting to feel pain in his injured foot? There was no sign of lameness, so my imagination went wild. Maybe he has kissing spine? Maybe he has an ulcer or tooth pain or his hocks are fusing?
Though I warmed him up slowly he seemed to really want to move so I progressed to more power in the trot. I hadn’t asked for this much expression from him since his return to work and he willingly answered each request, but underlying each step was the feeling of a powder keg ready to explode. I slipped a few fingers around the pommel strap and contemplated the possibility of canter.
I wondered if I was too chicken to canter. Normally riding forward would be a perfectly legitimate strategy. Get the horse working, burn a few calories, wear them out a little. But this felt different. I pictured myself lying flat on the ground with a broken neck. Does it matter if I skip a day of canter? His tension was continuing to build.
Maybe there’s nothing wrong with him, I thought. Maybe it is all me. Maybe I’m a crappy rider with an electric seat. I’m creating tension without even knowing it. Should I stretch him down and put my life in danger? Should I ride him forward and up and create even more power? Each step suddenly felt more and more explosive. Finally I stopped and gave him some sugar and that seemed to settle him down. I dismounted and decided to call it a no canter day. And I call myself a trainer. Hmpf.
Hi me be Eragon Stahpit. Today me pretending to be rocket ship. I seed it on TV and I know right away that it be just like me. I starts pretending as soon as She gets on me. She starts me out slow and easy so first I pretends they be rolling me out to the launching pad. We goes real slow first but little wispy smoke be starting to leak out cause me gots so much POWER. I pretend She be my astronaut and she be all strapped in. I think She likes it cause she takes hold of bucky strap and holds tight. This is so much fun!! I be rocket ship and She be astronaut!!!
She has new name for me today. It be my rocket ship name. She never says my full name Eragon Stahpit, or even just Stahpit. She just be saying Whoa Buddy, Whoa Buddy, Whoa Buddy. We be trotting and I let engines fire up! She says rocket ship name, “Whoa Buddy, Whoa Buddy….”. We be having LOTS of fun. I be waiting for canter for us to do lift off.
I thinks she just be getting ready for canter and I be all ready for lift off. I starts the countdown: ten, nine, three, seven, four….. Oooohhhh. She gots sugars. Gotta go, bye.
Seana Adamson Ph.D, is a psychologist specializing in Sport Psychology for equestrians. She is a United States Dressage Federation Gold Medalist, has been training dressage horses and riders for over 30 years, and is the author of “Memorize That Dressage Test: A workbook of mental games to improve focus and flow.” Learn more by visiting seanaadamson.com.