I knew I could count on you guys. I have taken all of your advice into consideration. At the moment I have gone ahead and upped his feed amount. He already seems happier and more relaxed just even in the herd. I then have started ground work sessions. First with me and him and then I hand him off to my daughter and coach her through ground work with him. It needed to be done anyways on a consistent basis so this gave me the push to get out there and do it. I also think that is the only way that he will gain more respect for children and that my daughter will be able to start to trust him again. Don't get me wrong I don't want her to EVER let her guard down around him or any other horse but also don't want an unhealthy fear to start creeping up either. They both did amazing yesterday. He respected her and she was not nervous and just stayed alert and did everything I told her to. That kid is amazing I tell you. Most kids you get them out and make them work and you get complaints or whining. Not this girl. I knew she was afraid but she did not let on one bit when she was working with him. She did everything precisely and accurately without getting upset or frustrated. I am telling you she has something special with horses. She has that "Buck Brenaman" aspect about her. That kind, understanding yet steady and strong way about her. Maybe I feel that way because she is my kid but if I saw any kid with the passion, determination and work ethic at the age of 9 that she has I think I would say the same thing about them.
Ok ok enough bragging on my kid. In other news? Well there just is not much. I have not been riding much, sadly. I have been making it a point to not ride when my husband is home because it seems to be a trigger for him. Though things are really starting to look up. We are still in counseling and are down to working out a budget and a plan. That is way better than where we started this whole mess with bitterness and ultimatums.
I did gallop the Steady the other day and we are getting better. I still have not resorted to a stronger bit. I don't know, I guess I am just optimistic that we can get there without it. It is about rhythm with him (and probably every other horse out there) and it seems if I can just find and hold that rhythm he is much more manageable. But I tell you what we are light years beyond where we were last July at event camp with the giraffe head in the air and completely hollow. Now it is more of a speed regulation issue. He will stay collected and responsive but we have a hard time keeping the speed consistent. Our other issue is straightness.
I did get our dressage test in the mail the other day. Though it was an awful score I was still very curious what the judge saw in it. I was very relieved to see that she saw it for exactly what I felt like it was. Every single line was the use of the the word "tense" in one way shape or form. We got "tense horse, but obedient", "horse very tense", "too tense". My favorite comment was "no real walk". I find this amusing because it was so true. The horse never walked. During the walk portion he went down to this trot that is slower than a walk but still a trot and very up and down. We didn't get above a 5 on anything except on rider I got a 6. Ouch! But I was most relieved to read her comments on the "rider" portion. She nailed exactly what was going on. I got into the arena with this strange bundle of energy. A completely different bundle of energy and nerves than I had in the warm up. Warm up was up and fast. As soon as I entered the area for the test I got this super tense, hyper bundle of nerves that was completely sucked back and resisting forward motion. Her rider comment was, "good effort, don't be afraid to put leg on and tell horse what you want." Since it happened so suddenly that is exactly what I was afraid of. I was not afraid of what he would do, I am strangely not afraid of Steady at all. I was afraid of looking like a terrible, mean rider by kicking his ass forward, which is what I would have done anywhere outside that test arena. I guess I need to realize that test or not in that moment I need to just do what I need to do as a rider for my horse. But aside from the numbers on the test I am happy with the feed back and have learned an incredible amount through this situation. My 5th dressage test ever and by far the worst one and the worst score we have ever gotten. Hey at least we got that out of the way early and we can just get better from here! Let's hope!