Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Emma visits the barn

I haven't blogged much lately because it doesn't seem like there's been much to blog about.  I was a bit disappointed in my lesson last week, not because of my trainer but just because I find it so frustrating that I continue making some of the same mistakes.  Part of it was that I've been practicing bareback so much that I felt a bit rusty in the saddle, though, so obviously I need to make sure to ride in the saddle at least once a week between lessons.

Sunday night my husband and I took our Mastiff mix — Emma, a.k.a. Brown Dog, Biggie Brown, Big E.T. — out to the barn with us for my late-evening bareback ride.  We've taken the dogs with us occasionally, but never when I've ridden.  Emma hung out with us in the cross ties (Michael hooked her to one of the ties in the stall next to Panama), and then came with us into the arena.  When there are other riders around, dogs aren't supposed to be in the arena, but with just us there Michael brought her into the indoor with us — on leash, of course.

Emma looked visibly surprised when I got on Panama's back — Michael said she was probably thinking, You'd better not try that with ME, which I wouldn't doubt!  Michael walked her around the arena, sometimes with us and sometimes keeping his distance, which Panama and I poked around at a walk for a few laps.  Then we started trotting, which Emma found hugely amusing — I think she thought I was messing with her.  She got very interested, and Michael and I were laughing at her, which of course supported her theory that I was playing with her, so she did her little bounce-and-bark play move.

Michael and I both immediately told her NO — we don't want her to think it's okay to bark at horses — but I was really proud of Panama, who appeared unfazed.  She did a couple of other things, too, that I thought would cause him to spook or at least tense up — such as an aborted nose-sniff/play-bow that ended up being more like a lunge-at-Pan-and-run-away move — but he never once startled at anything she did.  When she tried to follow behind us around the arena, he did put his ears back and his head up, listening, but it felt more like he was interested in what she was doing than concerned.

To give credit where credit is due, Emma also did very well, especially considering she has not spent much time around horses.  I used to think Grace, our white shepherd, would be the better barn dog, but I don't think so anymore.  Emma is more laid back, which I think makes all the difference.

Next time we're going to take Grace with us, but as Michael said, it'll be a good experience for her, though not necessarily for anyone else.  I'll probably ride in a saddle when she's there, since I suspect her anxiety and shepherd's instincts could make for a much more... interesting... ride.

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