In two weeks.
I showed up for my first lesson - which was perfectly fine. Guess what we worked on - surprise! Leg on = horse goes forward NOW. Hellfire must rain down upon him, should he chose to debate this command. He must go forward immediately when you put your leg on...Again. Again. Again.
Hmm, this forward off a light leg aid was a strangely recurring theme...one that the Platypus was not really big on. And actually, I was fully aware of this going in.
You must remember - he had come off of a two year lease with a young girl. When their relationship started, it took him about a week to determine that she really wasn't that committed to "go" - score one for the Platypus, check and checkmate, my friend. There were days she was lucky if the little bugger went forward at all, and the debate almost always included lots of kicking (on the part of both horse and rider), and batting on various body parts with a crop, after which he would generally say "you want forward? You got it, hold on baby" and tear around like a maniac.
This tearing around part is not necessarily frowned upon in the hunter ring. For some totally bizarre reason, the decision has been made by the hunter gods that, regardless of the size or natural ability of the pony, the little buggers must make a certain amount of strides between the jumps. This is of utmost "win or lose" importance. If it means the child nearly dies at the end of the line forcing their pony to launch itself at the fence from wherever it might be when its strides are up, jamming its little front legs out like superman in a desperate attempt to fly over the fence - well, so be it. We didn't come all the way here to lose chipping in - so don't be such a wimp - ride that pony to the fence! RIDE HIM! GALLOP! Who cares if you crash through now and then, Sally, spines grow back. I think.
It is totally asinine. Instead of having young riders developing with some form of "eye" for the jumps we are creating a population of little kamikaze lemming riders, ready to throw themselves and their ponies squarely into brush boxes and potted mums as long as it means "doin' it in five".
Oh I am on a tangent, aren't I.
Anyway, once the Platypus was rolling, he rarely stopped, and usually jumped everything - but overcoming that initial inertia could at times require some convincing. So during this lease period, I rode him myself at least once a week to remind him that yes, you need to go forward when asked, and usually our heart-to-heart would inspire him for at least a few rides. But even then - I wasn't dressage coach militant about the whole affair, I wasn't insistent on sharp or snappy. We generally accomplished some degree slow and begrudging acceleration with only limited angry farts and pinned ears, (the Platypus! Honestly) which was generally sufficient for the hunter ring.
But at the conclusion of my first lesson, I could tell that Frau Trainerin was troubled by this lack of "go". And so, she told me what would happen next. I would leave the riding to her for a while. So...bye! See you in two weeks, (and by the way, take that piece of shit Stubben Tristan with you when you go).
Can I come out to watch you ride?
No, there is lots of time for watching later. Bye! Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn 'til then!
Oh, come on now, you have read this one on a bulletin board somewhere. "WWYD - Coach told me to go home while she fixes my horse". I know I had, but I was still a little...Alarmed? Insulted? Annoyed? A bunch of different emotions, none of them ones that made me feel like any less of a loser than before I went into training.
I guess looking back - I wasn't at all worried about the Platypus in terms of care - or really, in terms of training. I knew he was in excellent hands. But there was just something so harsh about being told that you are so not only *unimportant* to the process, but in fact, so *detrimental* that really we are all better off if you just stay home.
I didn't want to become a horse petting owner. I had some perfectly functional guinea pigs at home with whom I could explore the wonders of the human animal bond for a whole lot cheaper than the cost of training board. What was important to me was the process of learning - in fact, it was actually more important to me than the end result. Mr. Motard was right - what the hell is the point of a hobby that someone else does for you?
But I am also a big believer in "go hard or go home" philosophy of learning. I didn't show up at Frau Trainerin's place to have a debate with her on how it's done. If she felt this was the way to go - I would do it, or I would leave (just ask Coach Crabby). There was no middle ground. I would not be one of those irritating assholes that every single stable has at least one, often two of, that follow the coach around incessantly, telling them what they have heard Robert Dover would do in the same situation.
And so - since I didn't nearly crap my pants doing a chin-up just to pack up my toys and leave after one lesson... I threw the Tristan in the trunk, and I went home. For two weeks.