Thursday, June 25, 2009

Horse therapy

I often find that one of the best ways I have of making myself feel better is spending time with my horse. Unfortunately I was too busy with other stuff Monday and Tuesday, so yesterday evening I headed out to the barn for some horse therapy — even though I was already exhausted from spending the day at the amusement park with my 16-year-old nephew.

My horse peeking at me around the side of the tack room

My horse seemed really glad to see me. It was really sweet — for a while I just hung out in the pasture, trying to muster the energy to ride, and he kept coming over to me and checking me out, despite the big pile of hay in front of him.

My horse looking at me while he eats his hay

After a little while, I decided I felt up to riding. I groomed Panama (he was a bit dirty already from his bath on Sunday, but not too bad) and tacked him up.

We had a decent ride. At one point his head shot up into the air and his walk became really exaggerated; I looked over my shoulder and saw that a little girl and her grandmother had walked up to the fence where it borders a church lot. They said they wanted to watch, but Panama was quite nervous about them, so I rode him over to the fence to meet them. At first he wouldn't get very close to the fence, I think because they were just standing there staring at him. Then the lady started talking to him, and he seemed comforted by that, because he walked up to the fence and even let the little girl stroke his nose through the fence.

Then I backed him up and started riding him around. They watched for a few more minutes, and Panama seemed distracted by their presence: He was followed my directions pretty well, but kept wanting to turn his head to look at them. (Apparently no one ever explained to him that he's a horse, and he doesn't have to turn his head to look!) Though they had been good for training (both approaching something scary and working with a distraction), I was glad when they left.

Panama did well for a little bit longer, but then I noticed he was pulling on the bit. It was strange, because he normally doesn't do this, and it seemed like the more he got in trouble for it the more he pulled. I'm not sure if he was trying to tell me he wasn't in the mood to ride, or that the bit was bothering him — if I let him have his head, he stretched his head and neck out almost to the ground and yawned, repeatedly, every time.

Other than pulling on the bit, Panama was actually being pretty good, so I decided to let it go. Although he hasn't pulled to this extent before, it's possible the bit I've been using is a little too wide for his mouth. If he does it again next time I'll try going back to the rubber training bit and see if that helps.



At June 25, 2009 at 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horses are excellent therapy, for all of us - glad you got in a ride - and by the way, your pictures of your boy are very cute!

At June 25, 2009 at 6:28 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks, Kate! He was acting really cute and I was just lucky enough to have my camera handy. I'm glad I got in a ride too -- I was planning on riding this eveningg as well, but thunderstorms hijacked my plans! :o(


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