Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sneaking a ride in and thoughts on confident riding

Between the weather and how busy I was last week, I haven't ridden much, compared with a couple of weeks ago when a few days off coincided with a February heat wave, allowing me to ride five times in a week.

Last night, though, I did ride.  I've set up a standing "riding date" on Tuesday nights with a fellow boarder.  I wasn't able to keep our date last week, because of how much I was working, but we rode last night.  It'll be our only good day this week, as we have some snow moving in this afternoon and staying for the rest of the week and weekend, so I'm glad I got some riding in.

It had been two weeks since Panama had been ridden, so he was super excitable at first.  I kept forgetting things and mounted a grand total of three times, though, and by the time I finally got on for good, he had lost most of his anticipation.  He settled into working pretty well, with only a few little almost-spooks, and we ended up having a very nice ride.

The boarder we're riding with, R., is Jess's owner.  Jess, you may remember, is the alpha in Panama's and Rondo's corral, and used to bite the crap out of Panama all the time.  Lately, though, that is changing.  He hasn't ruined a blanket yet this winter (knock on wood), and I've only seen a couple of bites on Pan all winter, whereas he used to have half a dozen at any one time.  I think the herd dynamics have changed since Jess was out for a couple months after having been bitten by a rattlesnake in the fall.

Anyway, R. is having a hard time lately, as she has had a few bad experiences that have shaken her confidence.  Jess can have massive explosions sometimes, which often end in bucking fits, and R. has no way of anticipating when it'll happen.  She was a beginner when she bought him a few years back, so she really didn't have the skills to get through Jess's explosions and provide guidance and confidence.  She has become fearful, and he, I think, has lost confidence in her as a rider.

Anyway, she is working on getting it back, and we've talked a bit about my experiences, too.  I can relate to her situation because Pan and I had such a rough road getting to where we are now.  I hope I can help her, not necessarily with teaching (I don't see myself as an instructor, and in any case she already has one), but by riding with her while she regains her confidence and providing a good example of a horse and rider duo who have gone through the same thing and successfully come out the other side.

She keeps apologizing for being "boring," she mostly just moseys around in the middle of the arena, but Pan and I have some work to do in order to get back into shape, so I'm not worried.  For now we're doing mostly 20 and 30 minute rides, with a couple of goals in mind.  My main goal to get what I want out of him (a relaxed trot and canter while paying close attention, which is difficult for him right now since he's excited about being worked again and out of practice with focusing on me).  My secondary goal is to rebuild the physical strength and endurance.  I know that certain things, such as a relaxed frame that uses his back muscles, are difficult to maintain when he's out of shape, so for now I'm not asking for it for very long.  Once we meet my goals for a few laps, I either give him a break or call it a day.

Hopefully R. will regain her confidence as Pan and I regain our strength and stamina, and as our rides get longer, so will hers.

Unfortunately that will probably be our only ride for about a week, as the highs are supposed to be in the teens and 20s through the weekend, with a slight warm-up next Monday and Tuesday.  Brrrr!  Anyone else feeling downright done with winter?

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