Monday, April 11, 2011

You can never have too much schooling

I had every intention of getting out on the trail this morning.  I went out to the barn about 10am, our usual trail riding time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and sure enough, Zans's owner was out there getting ready to ride.  I asked if she was planning to go out in the park, and she said it depended on how he behaved in the arena.

As it turns out, it's a good thing she wanted to ride in the arena first, because Panama quickly lost his right to hit the trail.  I could tell he was fired up even before we got to the arena — Savvy's owner had saddled her up and was going to ride for the first time since she foundered, and Panama was so excited about this that he tried to run right out of the cross ties to follow her when she left.

When we got to the outdoor arena, it was Savvy and her owner, Zans and his owner, and another horse and rider, in addition to us.  Panama was pretty sure he smelled a trail ride, and was concerned about getting left behind, so he immediately started trying to run after Zans and Savvy every time he spotted them on the other side of the arena.  We had an extended discussion about that, primarily because he put so much effort into trying to ignore me, and it took a lot of walking, turning, circling, and even quite a few emergency stops before he was listening to me well enough to graduate to a trot.  And then we had to discuss it all over again at the trot.

We rode for about 45 minutes, I think, and the whole ride was marked by gradual progress.  Each lap got a little better, and a little better.  There was a hiccup when Zans's owner took him out into the field to ride, and Panama started worrying again that he was getting left behind, but eventually I convinced him that it didn't matter because he still needed to pay attention to me.  Then Savvy and her owner left (just a short ride since it was her first back).  I don't know if it was because we were down to only one other horse in the arena, because he saw Zans come back, or because he was finally focusing, but we were able to end the ride on an excellent note: a smooth, controlled celebratory canter!

As one of my riding buddies pointed out, you can never have too much schooling.  Going out on the trail is a reward, not a right.  Plus, we hadn't ridden in the outdoor arena since last fall, so it was good to work with him on focusing out there — he had such a problem with that last year.  I'm going to try to ride a little more tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get out on the trail on Wednesday, weather and behavior permitting of course.



At April 12, 2011 at 6:06 AM, Blogger RiverBend Farm said...

Oh, I wish I could saddle up and come hit the trail with you! I've been trying for over a week to ride and it's way too windy and dusty.

At April 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

RiverBend Farm,

It's been really windy here too. It was still a bit breezy yesterday, but still one of the better days we've had. I hate wind!


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