Friday, August 22, 2008

Three-Horse Riding
I tried it. I think rhythmically, I have the tendency to want to rise on the wrong diagonal. Or maybe not. I couldn't tell. Cheerios kept veering off the circle the minute I tried to sense which leg I was rising with, which threw off the circular pattern. *sigh*

Our last session wasn't anything like the first attempt with Patterns. In hindsight, I know why. On Patterns Day One, I was focused on the PROCESS. On Day Two, I was focused on the RESULT. Having recommitted to my long-term PNH goals, I found myself too goal-oriented. Not good. Plus, it didn't help that I was tired by the time I got to Cheerios.

First, I finally got Shaveya to catch me. She has developed terrible sunburn on her nose. I promised to be very careful to avoid letting the halter scrape the sore area as I put it on. Yes, we got haltered. Then she got a dose of salve all over her nose like a lifeguard. Then we played.

If she could just be 100% sound, if I could trust that, she'd make a perfect partner. Once she calms down out of RBE, she's LB and obedient all the way. I tested to make sure she was responding rather than escaping.

Responding. Good.

I even got a L2 Sideways out of HER. Cool.

Because I'm trying to get her leased out, I had to make sure she was still a rideable beastie. Yes. She has lameness. But the consensus is that she'd be all right for light riding and a lighter (than me) rider. I've got a line on someone whose 10-year-old daughter needs a new partner and only walks and trots, and only weighs about 100 lbs. I also have a very skinny friend who I might cajole into a part-lease, muwahahaha.

But I had to test her. So, I gently mounted bareback after laying on her a few times. I'd say we walked about 12 feet total. Yes, she's rideable. She's responsive. But she doesn't want to walk. I was afraid to push and I had nothing to use to apply rhythmic pressure other than my hands because duh I left the carrot stick on the ground and duh I was riding with my 12' line tied into reins. No tail.

Oh, well. I was only on for a few minutes, but she wasn't too bothered.

Cheerios was just blah. Though I did get a nice canter on the 22' going left, he balked at the right. I did it this time w/o any saddle on in case it was a saddling issue. Nope. He just doesn't want to canter to the right. He is getting much better at reading my energy, though. I must be getting better at projecting it.

It's a challenge! My energy is low-level but always "on", or so I'm told from simulations at the last clinic. My challenge is to learn to raise it appropriately, then shut it COMPLETELY off when needed.

We played with:
  • Cantering on the 22' (OL)

  • Figure 8 around barrels (OL)

  • Change of direction 22' (OL)

  • Jumping a 6-inch high pole (OL)

  • Question Box (FS)

  • Follow the Rail (FS)

Follow the Rail went surprisingly well, given that he actually STAYED on the rail and listened, rather than diverting and heading towards the gate as usual. But the trot on QBox? Choppy, out of balance, bouncy—welcome back, Pogo Stick! Like I said, I was feeling pretty direct-line about then, and maybe I was being too critical. Oh, well, there is always tomorrow.

I also learned something truly disgusting about horse flies. If one lands on the horse's back along the spine, and you tap (not whack) it with the handle end of the carrot stick to kill it, not only does it die, but it severs in half.

And it's hollow inside.

Scuse me whilst I hurleth.

So. Onward. That was Tuesday when I rode two horses in one day. Wednesday, I took said skinny friend who might work for Shaveya up to the old barn where I first started riding eight years ago and we went on a trail ride. Yes. I have two horses of my own, yet I shelled out $35 for a nose-to-tail/group lesson. I had my reasons.

  1. secretly assess said friend's horse savvy and riding ability

  2. get out on an actual trail for a change

  3. ride a horse as a confidence builder at the canter

It was awesome. I had my choice of two horses chosen for my purpose (I'd called ahead and explained my needs). Ranger, a black & white Paint, and Spot, a sorrel Appaloosa. I did the sniff test with each to choose. Ranger sniffed, laid his ears back (unconfidently, not aggressively), turned his head away and would not look at me. Spot sniffed politely, pricked up his ears, and let me pet him.

I chose Spot. All 16.1 hands of him.

He was just right. Listened well, decent trot, easygoing, felt very safe with him. My friend rode Ranger. They had a few minor issues. But they did all right. She's got some natural savvy and she listens to me, which is good. We trotted a lot, and then we tried the canter. Spot eased into a beautiful canter. But Ranger, ahead of him, didn't want to go. Spot decided to Porcupine his butt as encouragement (bite), which invoked Ranger to Porcupine back (kick) which lead to my friend thinking he was bucking. She freaked, pulled up short, and that was the end of the cantering for the day.

Oh, well. I got in a few strides, it felt natural, and we're going to do it again soon. I might just go up on my own and do a private "lesson" which basically means I'd be leasing Spot for an hour or so to practice on. It's that or try it with one of the barn manager's horses. Thing is, horses are horses, but those trail string rent-a-horses tend to be quiet enough for stuff like this moreso than "real" horses.

All I want to do is KNOW that I can still ride a canter before I attempt to ride Cheerios and work out his issues and since it's been oh, three years since I last cantered—I need help.

Spot's for sale, too. $1,200. WHEN I win the lottery...

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