Sunday, January 24, 2010

Windy weather!

Today has been incredibly, insanely windy. Luckily, that meant when Michael and I went to the barn just before lunchtime, it wasn't very busy. On the down side, though, it also meant that when I rode Panama in the indoor, we had a lot to work through.

I have to admit, it was nice having the indoor arena, where we could get out of the wind. That's half the reason I rode — it was too cold and windy outside to do anything else. But Panama was quite anxious about the sound of the wind against the walls, and I don't blame him — if I didn't know better, I would have thought the wind was going to blow the building down around us, too.

On top of the wind, one of the guys who does a lot of work around the barn decided to water down the footing (which gets very dusty if it's not kept damp) while I and one other rider were in the arena. The other rider, who (as I understand it) took a bad fall a year or two ago, and is just now riding starting to ride again, quickly gave up trying to ride. Between the wind and the hose-wielding man walking around the arena, she was too worried about what her mare would do.

I stuck with it. I did make some concessions — I gave up trying to make Panama stand by the mounting block so I could mount, because every time I got him into position, the wind would throw sand against the side of the building and Panama would dance away from me again. So I let Michael hold his reins while I mounted from the ground.

I wanted to just get up because, despite my falls, I am starting to feel more in control on his back than I am on the ground. Once I was on, I made him do circles, small figure 8s, turns on the forehand, etc. — anything to engage his brain and make him shift his focus to ME instead of the wind. It worked! He was still nervous, but he stopped seriously freaking out, and during our 30- or 40-minute ride, was able to gradually relax.

We didn't do anything other than walk today, since my trainer doesn't want us to let him trot until he's relaxed and focused, and by the time I really got him to that point I was ready to be done. Every time he would start walking with his head down, or standing nicely when I asked, the wind would pick up again and we'd have to start again.

The water also made him nervous. He didn't mind the hose — he stepped over it without any nervousness — but I could feel him tense up every time the guy would start spraying the water even the teeniest bit in our direction. And seeing the walls and footing splotched with water (which made everything darker) also concerned him — we had to investigate all four corners, and then work on walking through each one without shying away.

Finally he stopped spooking so much at the wind sounds, went into the corners without a problem, and adopted a more relaxed (although not completely relaxed) walk. Once I got a full lap around the arena in each direction with no incidents, I dismounted and called it a day.

I do regret not being able to spend much time with him other than the ride, as he seemed to want to spend time with me. It was just too windy for me. I'll have to be sure to make up for it tomorrow!



At January 24, 2010 at 4:58 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

Windy arenas can be worse than windy open areas.
Your lucky with your boy. Theres a gelding at one of my barns that is a total a$$hole in the arena. He gets sour really quick indoors and will suddenly rear and then lash out a huge buck. Outside, quite the opposite.

At January 25, 2010 at 12:33 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I AM lucky -- Panama may be stubborn or spooky at times, but he doesn't do anything out of meanness. Sometimes he'll pop up a little in the front when he gets exceptionally frustrated, but he's only done it on a few occasions and isn't actually doing it to try to get rid of me, just to express his frustration. (He still gets corrected for it, of course, as I don't want him to develop a habit of it.) He does get scared inside, but I know he doesn't want to hurt me!


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