Your Horse Didn't Read The Book
It's when you expect your horse to have read the book, listened to the lecture, watched the video, or audited the clinic.
Guess what? They didn't.
Armed with a few new tricks to try out and a not-so-great attitude, I hopped on Dino for a dressage school yesterday, and promptly got in a fight with him about not leaning on my hands and carrying his own 800-lb self around.
Is this any different than the discussion we've been having for the past few weeks? Nope. Do horses build new muscle structures and way of going, and thus develop self-carriage, overnight? Nope. Especially for an older horse with a lot of "Nope Muscles" [Thanks for that clever term, Austen!] built up, this stuff doesn't come easily.
But as a result of the things I'd learned and the new ideas rolling around in my head, I had an outrageous expectation that Dino ought to have come round, gone on the bit, and pushed through from the second we started working yesterday.
And that, my friends, is an unfair and unrealistic expectation for my pony.
Dino did not, of course, perform to my crazy expectations, and so I got mad and picked a fight with him. It was not my proudest moment.
Eventually I stopped being a jerk, let the exercises and schooling figures do the work of shaping Dino's body, and we ended the ride with some pretty nice work at all three gaits and in both directions. The turning point in that ride, however, was when I realized that Dino didn't go to the clinic.
He didn't know the concepts I had learned about, didn't hear anything about how he should respond immediately to my aids, and wasn't informed that I was going to try a more lifting hand to get him rebalanced. He wasn't there. He didn't know. And it was unfair of me to expect him to be aware of these things when it's my job as a rider and trainer to tactfully explain new concepts to him.
So remember: your horse didn't read the book. It's your responsibility to tell him the story in a way he understands.