Monday, August 10, 2009

I think I rode my first buck today...

I was supposed to have a horseback riding lesson today, but my trainer accidentally double booked herself and asked to reschedule my session. Since I'd already planned on being at the barn this morning, though, I decided to go anyway and just ride.

I started out riding in the pasture, but Panama was quickly getting bored. I decided to ride him in the field, which I haven't done for a couple of weeks. Since he has been doing really well riding away from home alone, I took him all the way across the field to where we pick up the trail. We watched a few bikes go by without him even flinching — in fact he seemed only mildly interested. Apparently he remembers them from the trails near our old barn!

In order to get to the trail, you have to go up a little incline, perhaps about six feet high. It's not a bad slope, but once I verified Panama was still okay with bikes, I decided to practice going up and down. I had discovered last time I rode him in the field that he seems to have forgotten how to go down a hill without trotting, so I thought this was a good opportunity to practice.

Panama apparently had other ideas. He was trotting down it pretty consistently, and perhaps the third or fourth time he decided he'd had enough. I'm pretty sure what I felt was him bucking, and not an awkward attempt to canter. I felt myself going up into the air — still in the saddle, thank heavens, though when we came back down I was sitting on the pommel instead of back in the seat.

A commenter on one of Nuzzling Muzzles's recent posts (also about a near-accident) said, "Don't get scared, get mad." I thought of this comment almost immediately after the experience, because I kept my wits about me enough to let him know while it was happening that I was none too pleased about it. As I was going up in the air, I let out a great big growl: "Rrrraaaaaaggghhh Panama CUT IT OUT!" I think it's funny because I didn't even know at the time what exactly he was doing, but I knew it was a Bad Thing.

Once we landed I pulled him back down to a walk and made him do about half a dozen little circles. I wasn't booting his side or anything, but I think he knew from my yell that I was pretty ticked. Then I felt the shaking start and decided I'd better get him up and down that hill again before I started really feeling the effects of the adrenaline.

So we did it again, and he was fine. Still trotted a bit, but took it a bit slower. That helped to stop the shaking before it could get any worse. We practiced going up and down two more times, and the final time seemed to be good enough to call it quits, so we headed back across the field.

This was when I discovered that my horse, who has never demonstrated any such tendencies before, gets a little barn sour when he's out on his own. He did his fast marching walk — the one where we'll end up trotting if I'm not paying attention — half of the way back before I got through to him that I didn't want to hurry. It took some half-halts and a few turns away from the barn (whereupon he promptly slowed down) before he got it. After that he was pretty good. Just to be sure, though, I rode him around the field right across the street from the barn until he relaxed, just to make sure he didn't get into the habit of equating going back with the ride being over.

Despite the buck, I think it was a pretty good ride. He's doing pretty well out there without another horse — although I know this doesn't excuse it, I think the buck was out of frustration because I was making him do hard, boring stuff like controlling his own speed down a hill, rather than letting him check out his new surroundings. In any case, it's good to know that he likes being out there, even alone, and is interested in going farther. I think I'll take him a little ways down the trail next time — not out of sight of home, just in case, but far enough to see how he does!



At August 10, 2009 at 11:23 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It does help to get mad. Usually an angry, demanding "QUIT!" from me is enough to prevent it from happening again on that particular ride. I just never see the first one coming. It's good that you are expanding your riding area.

At August 11, 2009 at 6:43 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Panama know what "quit" means too. :o) I'm enjoying riding off the property SO much, and I think Panama is, too! Much better than doing boring circles in the pasture -- we both agree on that!


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