This morning before I headed off to Shaver Lake with Camille for a few days with my family, Brett and I went to PEC to take lessons with Sandy. My lesson with Lucy went well and I was especially pleased with our canter transitions. We tried some counter canter at the end but Lucy got worried and started offering changes instead. So, I will work more with her at home on that.
About ten minutes before my lesson ended, Brett came into the covered arena to warm up Mufasa. Remember that the last time Brett took a lesson on Mufasa, he bucked in response to Brett tapping him with the whip to get a prompt response. Brett is used to Flash who was not a sensitive horse -- you have to be strong with him to get his attention. Mufasa, in contrast, is very sensitive. Brett said he touched Mufasa more firmly than was necessary -- it was a Flash level correction. Flash would have blinked, sighed, and moved out a tad faster. Mufasa did a "what the hell?!" reaction - the buck. So, today when Brett led Mufasa into the arena and walked toward the mounting block, Mufasa had his head high and the whites of his eyes showing. Brett talked to him and Mufasa approached the mounting block, but he was skittish. Sandy walked over to help and Mufasa's fear of strangers kicked in. He went into reverse at warp speed with Brett running to stay with him, talking and trying to calm Mufasa down.
Mufasa stopped, Brett explained to Sandy that Mufasa is afraid of people he doesn't know, and said he thought it would be better if he worked on mounting alone. Mufasa reluctantly walked up to the mounting block, but he clearly wasn't happy. Something was worrying him -- worried about being in the arena where he was firmly tapped, worried about the position of the mounting block, worried about the wet sand... who knows what the issue was exactly, but there was an issue.
Brett was anxious to get on and get warmed up so he put a foot in the stirrup and swung his leg over. Before he could get that foot in the stirrup, Mufasa was off and running. Brett couldn't find the stirrup, which flopped up and smacked Mufasa. Mufasa didn't buck, but he hopped three or four times and Brett, who was already unbalanced, hit the dirt. Mufasa started to bolt off but then slid to a stop, turned, and looked at Brett. Lucy threw her head up and hopped forward but stopped when I asked her to. I jumped off, handed my reins to Sandy, and caught Mufasa who was clearly convinced he was going to be beaten for dumping Brett. Poor Mufasa, somebody was very rough with him in the past. Brett didn't break anything but he was very sore and scraped up.
Sandy lunged Mufasa until he relaxed (and admired his trot), and then got on and worked with him. Mufasa started to figure things out and was a good boy, trying hard to get it right. I wish we could afford to have Sandy train him full time for a month or two but there just isn't any money -- and a list of projects at home a mile long.
Brett said that, in hindsight, he should have taken more time with Mufasa, making sure he was relaxed before trying to mount. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. Between the big spook a few weeks ago at home where Brett came off and today, Brett isn't really thrilled with the idea of riding. At 65, bones break more easily and things hurt for a long time. I can't say I blame him, although I hope when he heals that he tries again. They were making such great progress together and Mufasa trusts Brett -- which is a huge accomplishment.
We loaded the horses into the trailer and Brett headed home. I drove to the airport, picked up Camille, and headed to Shaver Lake. I checked in with Brett before turning out the light -- he and Kersey were watching "The Blob" on TV. He's going to hurt even more tomorrow -- and has all the chores to do on his own. I feel badly about not being there.
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