Monday, October 11, 2010

Recent thoughts and progress

I haven't blogged much recently, so I'm going to try to explain everything that's been going on, both at the barn and in my head, in one blog post.  We'll see how this goes.

The biggest news is something I've been realizing lately: I haven't been giving Panama enough activity or attention.  I started out this summer riding nearly every day, and going for trail rides two or three times a week, but the last couple of months it has degenerated into just a couple of short rides a week.

It's not good for my own progress, of course, but it's especially not good for Panama, who is a very energetic little horse.  Last Wednesday, I met Spaghetti's owner at the barn, and we turned our horses out together.  Panama proceeded to wear Spaghetti out, but still obviously wanted to run, so I then turned him out with his girlfriend Daisy. whose owner was going to ride.  (Panama and Daisy are in the same corral, but they don't run in there at all, for whatever reason.)  I'd thought the second playdate finally made Panama tired enough, but when we went behind the barn to find Spaghetti and his owner, he spotted the horses in turnout — head up, tail up, ears forward, and he started prancing all over again.

I didn't ride that day (I wasn't getting on him without stirrups when he was that full of himself), and I only got a short ride in yesterday.  I had a pretty good lesson on Friday, and my trainer was satisfied enough with my progress that she said I could start using the stirrups again after a few more rides without, and see if I could feel the difference.

I went out the next day with Michael, but I ended up using the stirrups — it was extremely windy, and although we were going to be riding inside, Panama was acting loony enough that I wanted that added security.  I was glad I had them, because it did take him a little bit to settle down once I got on!  We had a good ride, though — two weeks of riding without stirrups has made a difference in both of us.  He seems to have learned how to trot a bit slower, and my seat feels stronger.  We also both had a revelation regarding downward transitions — I figured out how to sit back, and he figured out how to be more responsive.

My heels still aren't down enough, but hey, can't expect to fix everything in two weeks.

Anyway, all of this has me thinking about how much I've been neglecting Panama lately.  When I think about how he was acting several months ago, when he was being ridden nearly every day, versus how he is acting now, the difference is pretty noticeable.  He is so excited when I come that he waits for me at the gate as soon as he sees me get out of the car, and he has taken to nickering when he sees me bring the bridle out of the tack room.  Part of it is that he is energetic by nature, but I think part of it is also his need for mental stimulation.  He obviously enjoys his job very much, and I think he just isn't cut out for inactivity, physically or mentally.

I've come to the conclusion that I need to make a better effort to get out there and ride more often — not so much that I neglect my work, but more than I am currently.  I know Panama would appreciate more attention and activity, and I expect it will make me happier, too.



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