Thursday, January 28, 2010

The perfect ride

Today was one of those perfect rides. Heck, it was a perfect day (in terms of the barn, I mean). It had to be one of the top five rides I've ever taken on Panama, right up there with some of the best trail rides we've ever been on. It was simply magical.

The thing is, we really didn't do that much. Most of what we did was walking, with a little bit of trotting in there. It was just really amazing walking!

I should have known immediately what kind of day it was going to be. I parked in front of Panama's corral as usual, and then went into the tack room to get his halter. When I came back out, he was standing right at the gate, clearly waiting for me. I put him in the cross ties and got to work grooming and tacking him up. He did everything I asked, when I asked and exactly how I asked.

(There was a little hiccup when I accidentally collapsed the wall-mounted saddle rack while putting the saddle on it. He cat jumped backwards in the cross ties and looked at me with alarm. I just laughed it off and banged it around some more, and he relaxed. He really does look to me for guidance, though — he was braced and all ready to pull back, just waiting to see whether I'd give him any indication he should.)

Although it was only about 28 degrees outside, in the indoor arena it was just barely warm enough to take off my jacket and ride in my sweatshirt and gloves. We shared the arena with one other horse and rider, one of the older women at the barn and her mare. I don't know if Panama it was the mare's influence, or if it's because I was chatting with her owner as we rode, but Panama was the most relaxed I've seen him in the indoor. He lowered his head, walked more slowly, and when we did trot, he kept a nice, even pace (something we have a hard time with in there). I was even able to give him more rein than usual without him constantly trying to speed up. He also responded very well to my leg yields, with very few instances of confusing it as a request to trot. Whatever I thought, he did; wherever I thought, he went.

We rode for quite a while — about an hour — and although he jumped a couple of times in the beginning, he relaxed quite a bit for most of the ride. The real indication of how good he was being was when someone brought their horse in to be lunged toward the end of our ride; although she (a 4-year-old mare Panama likes very much) was really quite out of control, Panama stood quietly and watched her gymnastics without getting all worked up himself.

After our ride, I took Panama back to the cross ties, unsaddled him, and put him in his cooler — even though he wasn't all that hot, I had to go back to the indoor to go to the bathroom, and I figured it was a good excuse to take him along. I put him in the indoor cross ties (right across the hall from the bathroom) and when I came back out again, he was still standing patiently, waiting for me. He greeted me with a happy little nicker when he saw me, but he had clearly not been shuffling nervously while I was out of sight, as he sometimes does in there.

I took him back to "his" cross ties, exchanged his cooler for his blanket (snowy and cold today), and finally put him back in his corral. It was one of those days when he just didn't want me to leave — he stood at the fence and watched me while I finished cleaning up, nickering when I walked toward him to say goodbye.

It was a simply magical day, and was very satisfying for me after all my anxiety yesterday. I only hope we can be that relaxed and in tune with one another for our lesson tomorrow!



At January 28, 2010 at 7:57 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm just amazed that you ride in the snow. I spend a few minutes outside just feeding the horses and I can't wait to get back inside the house.

At January 28, 2010 at 9:47 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I was determined to ride today, no matter what, to make up for yesterday. And I'm glad I did -- there was hardly anyone there, which was really nice!


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