Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A quick ride with surprising results

I had a lot of demands on my time today, so I had to reschedule my lesson, but I still managed to squeeze in a visit to the barn. I hadn't been there since Saturday, so I knew I needed to go.

I started out by turning Panama out. He promptly rolled, and then looked like he was going to sunbathe. I was pretty sure he needed to run, after being in with the "old folks" for two whole days, so I chased him a bit. He quite happily obliged, and I could tell by the flagged tail that I was right — he'd needed that.

Then I saddled him and we started out in the outdoor arena. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and clear, and it was also quiet at the barn — the makings for a nice relaxing ride. Unfortunately, Panama was a bit "up" at first, and it took ten or fifteen minutes for him to calm down. Finally he dropped his head and his walk became slower and steadier, so I trotted him for a few minutes, walked him a little bit longer, and then headed out into the field — this time alone.

I didn't want to have to dismount to leave the arena, so I opened and closed the gate from Panama's back. He was a bit startled the first time I pushed it, but he figured out very quickly what I was trying to do. He didn't try to help — I didn't expect it on our first try — but he didn't spook, which was more than good enough for me.

He kept his nice relaxed walk as we started out into the field. As we started approaching the junk pile, however, and he didn't have another horse to take his cues from, he started fretting. He gave a large section of concrete sewage tunnel a wide berth, so I turned him around and made him walk by it again. We had a couple of little spooks here, but nothing I couldn't handle.

On the third approach, he tried stopping several times, but I made him keep going. Then, when he was almost past the sewage tunnel, he spotted the rest of the junk pile, a little ways down on the other side of the path. With that he spun and bolted.

I thought I was a goner. I remember looking down at the saddle, desperately wanting to stay in it, but thinking, I'm going to fall. Then I realized I wasn't falling, hauled back on the reins, and stopped Panama. I didn't think he was going to respond at first, but he did, and as soon as he did I turned him around again and took him right back to that junk pile.

I'd obviously won that round, as Panama walked by the junk pile — with mincing steps, but in a straight line without trying to veer away from it. He got lots of praise and pats for that!

That was at about the farthest point in our loop, so we still had the return trip. As we continued on, I could feel my legs starting to tremble — a delayed reaction to the bolting incident — and I concentrated on breathing and relaxing my body. We passed some horses in a neighboring pasture, and Panama was a bit scared of their food or water troughs, which were big, round, and black and appeared to be homemade. I made him walk along the fence almost the entire way (the troughs were placed at intervals along the fence), and then we doubled back to catch the trail that cut back across the field toward "home."

I was very pleased to see that Panama kept up a slow, steady walk the entire way back to the cross ties. Of course, we didn't ride very far away from "home," but I think it was a good sign nonetheless.

In the end, I was very glad I'd made the time for this ride. It wasn't very long — maybe half an hour — but it yielded some very pleasing results. I'm particularly proud that I kept my seat through that spin-and-bolt combo, and regained control. I'm sure I looked terrible, I shouldn't have been looking down, and I forgot all about the one-rein stop — but I don't care, because I stayed on!!!



At February 2, 2010 at 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey - you did great - you ended better than you started, and got back to the barn with the horse between you and the ground - that's my definition of a successful ride - you should be proud of yourself for staying on through that - it means you were able to keep riding!

At February 2, 2010 at 7:10 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Oh, I am proud -- not only because I didn't fall, but because it means that I am getting to be a better rider! It also makes me feel good that I was successful in getting him to walk past that junk pile afterward. To me, it means that he was able to settle down and place his trust in me -- which is harder for him to do when I am on his back, as opposed to leading him.

At February 3, 2010 at 2:56 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Good job! Oh boy, can I relate to the legs trembling after the fact. I never remember the one-rein stop either. I think we just have to practice it at different paces until it becomes second nature.

At February 3, 2010 at 3:43 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, I agree that practicing the one-rein stop would help, but I hate to make Panama think he's in trouble when he's not. :o) Such a dilemma!


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