Like cantering past the "scary corner" at one end of the arena.
That became the fight this weekend. Most of the time, I cheat that corner and make our circles smaller by design. Partly because the sand down there is heavier, partly because I don't want to deal with the spook. On Saturday, Ashke decided that everything south of the mid point in the arena was terrifying and going to destroy him.
I need to use the entire arena in order to work on some of the elements in my test (like leg yield from F to X to M), plus the way the arena is watered does leave mud pits in spots and due to Ashke's propensity to slip on the RH, I am trying to ride around them. This does create some amusing twists and turns as we negotiate the drier spots.
To the left, Ashke is good, even in the scary corner, and even at the canter. To the right, however, we saw the return of the head-in-the-air balking/slamming to a halt when asked to canter past that spot like a reasonable horse. (That hasn't happened in about three months and the last time was in a lesson). It resulted in me getting angry and frustrated and him becoming more and more convinced that something was going to destroy him.
I got off and got the lunge line. We cantered in circles by that corner until he finally made two complete circles without bolting or breaking gait or being a butthole. Then I put the lunge line away and got back on. We finished with ground poles and a little bit more canter.
Sunday was the same. Only this time I was hangry and tired and just didn't want to have this conversation again. And I wasn't feeling happy or nice. So it became a bit of a fight, although I got off and got the lunge line again immediately. He cantered and cantered and cantered for a good ten minutes, without breaking gait or being a butt. When I got back on, he did leg yields, canter circles and figure 8 circles with a change at X (test stuff) with no issues. We ended with some awesome canter-trot-canter transitions in both directions.
I am conflict reluctant. I hate fighting. I hate fighting with J, or T or Ashke. There is no such thing as righteous anger or drawing a line in the sand. Which is what I did on Sunday, despite knowing better. Ashke does not really do line drawings. He tends to spook at them and rebel. Teenagers are the same way. I should learn. The counterpart of that is that Ashke does not get to dictate what part of the arena we are using. He doesn't get to draw a line in the sand, either. Sometimes, we just have to buckle down and do what we need to do.
However, I was left feeling like I should never ride again. With a post hangry hangover that lasted all day. I even contemplated not showing at Expo. Of giving up. Of selling him (gosh that hasn't happened in at least a year). I was thinking I had destroyed his trust. That he would hate me. That I had ruined him.
Then I watched these vids. They are from Saturday. After our conflict. After our ride. And I see our bond - which is strong enough to get over or past a momentary conflict. Just like with a spouse or kid. You get past it.
He chooses to be with me.
I choose to be his safety.