Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Riding in the rain

Today was a cool, overcast day. I actually slept in quite a bit as a result — having lived in Colorado for most of my life, I'm quite heliotropic (meaning my moods and habits are influenced by the sun), so my half-asleep brain couldn't grasp the concept that it was late morning, not early morning.

The forecast had called for rain, but the day was actually quite dry. When Michael got home from work, therefore, he went out for a bike ride while I went to the barn to ride Panama.

I didn't have very long, as Michael and I were planning on going out for dinner once both of us were back, but I was still able to accomplish a few things during our short ride. We did a lot of trotting to start out with. I hadn't been riding for long, when I suddenly realized it was beginning to sprinkle. I had such a groove going that I'd been hearing the rain hit the ground for several moments before it occurred to me that I was getting rained on. And even when I realized it was raining, I didn't want to quit riding, so we just kept going.

I've ridden in the rain briefly on a trail ride before, but it wasn't any demure little shower. It was a crazy, rain-blowing-sideways kind of storm, and actually one of the times when I've been impressed with how well Panama handled himself. I could hardly see, yet he kept right on plodding along after our trail partner and her horse.

This time, though, it only sprinkled on us for 5 or 10 minutes before stopping. It was a liberating feeling, to keep riding in the rain — does anyone else enjoy that? When the shower ended, Panama's neck and butt was spotted with rain, the top of my head was wet, and the saddle had water beading on it where it wasn't covered with my legs — but we were no worse for wear.

Panama and I also practiced stopping, standing, and backing a bit more. He was doing much better halts today, and although he did need a few reminders to wait for my signal to go again, he was doing much better than yesterday. I also discovered that if I only ask him to back up a few steps, he backs straight — it's when I keep asking that he starts backing crookedly. However, I took Kate's advice on backing and, instead of correcting him, just kept his head in line with how I wanted the rest of his body. Sure enough, after a few steps sideways, he usually righted himself.

After some backing practice, we practiced halting a few more times. Panama was behaving himself quite nicely, and I was pretty much out of time, so I decided to stop for the day. Tomorrow I have a session with my trainer — weather permitting — and we'll find out whether she thinks I've gained enough leg control to start cantering. I'm not so sure, but then again, that might just be the nervousness talking!



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