Friday, August 12, 2011

Old goals in sight

After Panama's naughty behavior yesterday, I was quite pleased to find him sleepy and relaxed when I went out to ride this morning.  I just barely missed the trail ride — they were nearly ready to leave when I arrived — but I was expecting that because I had a doctor's appointment beforehand, and figured there was a 50/50 chance I wouldn't make it in time.

Panama stood at the gate and hollered for me while they got ready to leave, so I was expecting him to be antsy when I tacked up — he hates being left behind.  Instead, he was half asleep in the cross ties.  I was feeling a little tired too, so I took my time grooming.  I can't help but wonder if he knows when I'm in a hurry or under pressure and when I'm relaxed — well, I know he does, but I wonder if it affects his mood too?  Yesterday I'd been in a hurry to tack up before my lesson, and I can be slightly anxious during a lesson because I'm trying so hard, but today I took my time and rode with the attitude "We'll just do whatever we feel like doing," and Panama behaved like a completely different horse.

Ultimately, we didn't ride for very long, maybe 25 minutes.  We walked, trotted, and cantered in each direction in the outdoor arena, and I worked on pushing my heels down and forward like my trainer had me doing yesterday.  With Panama so relaxed, rushing wasn't a problem and we were able to maintain a steady pace pretty easily.  He also wasn't throwing his inside shoulder in as bad, either at the canter or when we trotted a few serpentines, so that pleased me as well.

He was still very relaxed, so I decided to ride him in the obstacle course and the field behind the outdoor arena.  We went over the practice bridge a few times until he didn't try stepping sideways off of it, navigated a few of the other obstacles, and then walked one lap in each direction around the track.  He was a little bit more alert for this part — at the far end of the track is where he spooked and bolted almost exactly a year ago, resulting in a pretty bad fall that has had me nervous about riding back there ever since.  In fact, I think today was our first time back there alone since that incident!

I probably should have ridden around the track for a little longer — say, a few laps in each direction instead of just one — but I'm just glad I conquered my fears and rode him back there at all.  I figure stopping on a positive note was a good thing, in any case, and I can make next time longer.  I'd like to gradually increase our time riding in the field, and the distance we can go comfortably.  Last year I wanted to eventually get Panama to the point that I could ride him on the trail alone — for a while I lost sight of that goal, because of all the falling I did, but hopefully as Panama and I both regain our confidence, that will once again become a possibility for us.

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