Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My horse smells like skunk

I got out to the barn this afternoon for a rather unpleasant surprise: a skunky-smelling horse. I don't think he was sprayed directly — it's not quite that strong — but since the smell is strongest around his muzzle, I'm guessing he went sniffing where a skunk had sprayed!

Despite the smell, we had a pretty good day! I met Spaghetti's owner at the barn, and we turned our horses out together. Panama was pretty fired up, and kept trying to make Spaghetti run, even after Spaghetti had had enough. (Whether it's because of Panama's Arab blood or the fact that he is in better shape, he has a lot more energy than poor Spaghetti.)

It started raining while we had the horses turned out, so we got tacked up and headed in to the indoor arena. Unfortunately, Spaghetti refused to walk in, either down the hall (where Panama used to be afraid to go) or through the door from the outside, until his owner finally produced a treat as bribery.

The ride itself went well. We trotted a bit in each direction, usually with Spaghetti right behind us — Spaghetti lacks get-up-and-go, so his rider likes to follow me and Panama as incentive to get Spaghetti moving!

We had another rider in the arena with us, so for a while I didn't feel comfortable cantering. As we all fell into a rhythm, though, I decided to canter a little. We cantered twice to the right, Panama's worse side. (Lazy little Spaghetti just kept up as best he could at the trot.) I can definitely feel the difference when I canter him in the indoor arena — his speed is better regulated, and with less of his issues to worry about, I felt tonight like I was able to do a better job of keeping my shoulders back and moving with the motion of the horse.

I think a lot of the issues I was having outside during last week's lesson have to do with how different Panama is when I ride him outside. He is much faster, bracier, and more distracted, whereas inside those problems almost completely go away. I know he needs the practice outside, but I wonder if I shouldn't focus on riding inside until I am a little more comfortable at the canter. Maybe then I'll be more able to control him when we move outside. What do you think?



At September 21, 2010 at 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be inclined to start where he and you are both comfortable and gradually extend your boundaries out from there. Before you know, fewer things will present any issues!

At September 21, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, thanks. The only thing I worry about is him not knowing how to deal with the distractions, since he doesn't have to worry about anything like that inside. Maybe, however, we can just use the outdoor arena for more leisurely rides for now, and save the serious stuff for the indoor until we are both more confident. That way he can get used to the sights and sounds of the outdoor without feeling like he's under a lot of pressure.

At September 22, 2010 at 7:55 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I would start where your comfortable but try to move into more difficult areas. If you have a bad day go back to what you know he does well, be it riding in the arena. Since you are learning as well as him an arena may be best for right now.

At September 22, 2010 at 7:55 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

ps- Arenas are for a horse like seeing a lion at the zoo: behind bars/arena walls things can't hurt you.

At September 22, 2010 at 10:37 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Sydney, when I talk about us riding outside, it is actually in a big outdoor arena, so I'm afraid the bars analogy doesn't work with Panama -- he's distracted (and sometimes scared) by what he sees through them, all right!

I think part of it is that we've ridden in the indoor arena so much, he's just not used to seeing the distractions, which is why I was hesitating about only riding in the indoor -- I think he needs to get used to it, and he's only going to do that with practice. But at the same time, I need to get better at sitting the canter if I'm going to be ready for anything he throws at me outside, and practicing in the indoor will allow me to get better without worrying so much about what he's doing.

So I think I'll do what you and Kate suggested -- start where we're both comfortable (indoor arena) and gradually work on moving out of it. I think if I don't ask too much of him outside, perhaps it will give him a chance to get used to all the distractions without feeling like he's under a lot of pressure from me.


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