Monday, April 11, 2011

Catching up

I've found it difficult lately to find time to blog, even though I've still been riding about twice a week.  I believe I have two lessons, a trail ride, and today's ride to catch up on.

Let's see...  My lesson two Thursdays ago was a easier one, mentally at least.  I was on an older insulin for a week as part of an insulin study I was doing, and it was screwing with my sugars and sapping my energy (mentally as well as physically) so I asked my trainer to go easy on me.  We didn't do any jumping that day, as a result — just some flat work so that I could work on getting my heels down, cantering in two-point, and so on.

Last week's lesson didn't involve any jumping either.  My trainer had me working on cantering Panama over a pole.  I think she's working me up to being able to canter over a jump, for one thing, and perhaps also helping Panama learn how to time his strides up to a jump.  We also worked more on my two-point at the canter, which is getting a little better.  My biggest problem seems to be not rounding my back when I'm worried about something — as soon as I stop thinking about my equitation, I lose it.

I didn't go on a trail ride this past Friday, but the Friday before we went with Spaghetti, Zans, and a new horse, Sully.  Sully is a cute pinto with similar coloring to Panama, who put his owner through a lot of jigging and a couple of mini rodeos during our ride.  I was proud of Panama for keeping it together even when Sully started bucking and throwing a little tantrum, because Panama just stood there and watched.

What he wasn't tolerating that day, however, was Spaghetti going nose-to-tail with him.  Spaghetti does that all the time when we ride together, in the arena as well as on the trail, and usually Panama doesn't care, but for some reason this time he did.  He kept giving little low, one-footed warning kicks to tell Spaghetti to back off.  I wasn't thinking of it at the time, because I was a bit worried about their high (again) excitement and anxiety levels, but next time he does that I'm going to let him know that kicking isn't okay — even little ones.

One of the major things we worked on during that trail ride was going forward when I ask.  Panama loves to be in front, but if he's uncertain about whether something is safe (such as going through tall grasses when there is no trail) or if he is worried that the rest of the horses will keep grazing without him, he'll often move sideways instead of forward, or even refuse to move at all.  And inevitably, every time, when another horse passes him and gets in front, he gets upset that he's lost his lead spot.  Then he'll fuss until I find a way to maneuver him back in front again.

So during our trail ride we worked on moving forward when I asked, rather than waiting for another horse to do it.  There are a couple of spots where I know he has an especially hard time with this, but every time, I was able to get him moving forward by using leg pressure to block his first couple of attempts at moving sideways.  The only time it fell apart was at the end of the ride, when he wanted to graze and I wouldn't let him, since we were almost back and I was ready to call it quits for the day.  Then he tried something new — backing up — which I'll probably have to deal with next time we go out!

It was a better trail ride than the one the week before, but it was still a bit tense.  Between Spaghetti being fired up and Sully's antics, Panama was pretty excitable until we got about halfway through our regular loop.  I'm going to try to go out this week sometime just with Zans and his owner — Zans is quiet on the trail, and I think a ride with him once or twice a week would be a good counterbalance to all the excitement on our Friday rides.

This post has gotten longer than I expected, so I'll blog about today's ride later today!

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