We all know that Frankie is a perfect angel, right? Never does anything remotely bad, is rock solid 100% of the time?
Frankie decided to use this cold snap to remind me that he is not, in fact, the pretty pony on the merry-go-round. He is a horse. With opinions (even if they rarely make an appearance).
It started last weekend in my lesson- we warmed up on the flat just fine, popped over a few crossrails, and then the wheels fell off. Frankie discovered that when he sneezed, rooted, and humped his back just so, he could pull the reins right out of my hands. LIKE A JERK.
We would head up to a jump (tiny ones in short courses bc omg cold), he would canter up like a normal horse, jump it like a horse who has done this a thousand times, then his brain would fall out his butt and he would land porpoising until I pulled him up in a heap.
And I won’t pretend to any startling feats of bravery here: while I never felt unseated, it definitely did kick some nerves into play. It didn’t feel dangerous, just entirely unenjoyable and yucky. For that lesson, we ended up doing a bunch more flatwork to get our brains back in our skulls and get my own body to stop emitting PANIC vibes.
Listen, I get it: the temp had plummeted, he hadn’t gotten much turnout time for a few days, it was windy, all these things would make any horse fresh. And all things considered, it wasn’t dangerous or malicious behavior- it was a fit horse with a lot of excess energy that simultaneously wanted to play but also get out of work. It isn’t hard to figure out why this happened.
Still annoying as hell tho.
Fast forward to Thursday, which was equally cold and gross and turnout-less. In the interest of self-preservation, I asked Trainer if I could lunge Francis for 10-15 min before hopping on to let him move out and warm up and let out any silliness. And yes, if you were wondering: this was my first time lunging him. Homeboy hasn’t really needed it in the past.
Luckily, his unicorn status held and he lunged like he does it every day (after a quick reminder that coming into the middle is invasive and rude and not allowed). I say luckily, because I spent most of the time trying to organize the line and half-heartedly clucking at him. Good boy Francis.
So I hopped on, very pleased that we had warmed him up and let him work out some energy.
Until we cantered and he remembered that rooting and pulling and humping was super fun last time. DANGIT FRANCIS NOT AGAIN.
So we borrowed a gag converter from AT and set off again.
And the next time he tried to dive down, we had a bit of an Earth To Francis moment with the leverage. Which he did not like. So he cantered like a normal horse in a straight line. And then tried again. Earth To Francis. Rinse. Repeat. Multiple times in each direction.
Eventually he realized that the pressure only hit when he was acting the fool, so he stopped acting the fool. We did a few little courses to confirm that we had a balanced, thinking horse under us, then called it a day.
And I promptly went out and ordered my own gag converter.
I will say, I actually liked the feeling of the gag more than the three-ring we tried before. Especially with the double reins, it was easy to engage when I needed a little extra lightness in the front end, and chuck away when we were doing fine- by our last mini-course, I didn’t need to engage it at all. I plan on using the converter for a while, then potentially getting a regular gag bit to try out. We shall see.
The countdown is on for WEC! 43(ish) days until Frankie and I head west for a few weeks.
Coming up soon: telling you all about my AMAZING Secret Santa gift, some product reviews of things that are making my winter hibernation more bearable, and continued ramblings from yours truly.