Sunday, April 24, 2011

Barrels, the outdoor arena, and saving things for next time

I missed a couple of days' worth of blogging, so I'll try to recap.  I rode two days: Thursday (my lesson) and Friday.  On Thursday we rode inside, and my trainer pulled the barrels down and set a couple on their ends in the arena for us to ride around.  After last week's jumping session, he was pretty alarmed by those barrels, but my trainer had me walk and then trot him by the barrels until he stopped freaking out.  Then she moved them around, which at first shook him up all over again, but then he stopped reacting to that too.

There was no jumping or anything this lesson, but it was a good lesson nonetheless because it taught Panama to get over scary stuff — and taught me to ride him like there's nothing to be scared of.  Well, I should say it started to teach us that — my trainer wants me to work on it some more on my own.  It's my "homework."  I'll be enlisting Michael's help, so that I have someone to move the barrels around or put stuff on top (my trainer suggested a jacket, a cone, etc.) without me having to get down.

On Friday I was planning to meet Spaghetti's owner for a playdate and a ride, but she wasn't able to get out to the barn so I went out there on my own in the afternoon.  It was really windy (as per usual lately), but it was sunny and warm, so we rode in the outdoor arena.  I don't know if anyone remembers from last year, but Panama was really having problems in the outdoor arena: He was easily distracted and easily spooked by everything he could see from the arena.  We've only rode outside a few times so far this year, and so far I've been pleased — he's been distracted, of course, and I wouldn't expect him not to be, but each time he's started focusing better once we've been riding for a bit.

Friday was no different.  In fact, it was probably even more of a test than usual, between the wind and the fact that two of his favorite mares from the indoor barn (meaning he doesn't see these horses often) were also in the arena with us.  At first he was having his old problem of speeding up at the trot down the long sides of the arena, but I circled him every time we had a problem with that, and eventually he got a little bit better at pacing himself.  I also circled him whenever he started wanting to act buddy-bound and go running after the mares.

After about 20 minutes of riding, he was being good enough that I felt comfortable cantering him in each direction.  He did great to the left, but he has a habit of letting his shoulder fall in to the right (to the bad side).  It seems to be more obvious in the outdoor arena (which is bigger) than the indoor arena.  I worked on it a little and got a slight improvement, but next time I ride him outside we'll definitely have to work on it a little more.

Which brings me to a question.  When you find something that needs work, do you work on it right then and there, or do you think it's okay to save it for another time?  Even though he was behaving relatively well (despite being a bit high) and I might have been able to fix the problem quickly, I was concerned that it could blow up on me, and I didn't want to pick a fight that I didn't have time to finish.  However, I'm not sure I necessarily made the best decision.  What would you do in that situation?  Make a note to work on something next time, or fix it then and there?

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