This week I didn't ride because I wanted someone to be there, and today Patrick and Laura were around so I had some excellent help for our third ride. And a good thing, because it was a wild one!
No, she didn't buck, but we did have a good little gallop--unintentional, of course! But it's been crisp and cold and I could tell that she was somewhat wired when we were feeding this morning (though it's hard to tell, because she's so rock solid on the ground).
I did a little bit of ground work with her before getting on, and because she's so good on the ground, it's hard to pick on anything. So, while Patrick was preparing to take pictures, I hopped into the saddle. About halfway up, she started to get antsy, so I swung aboard.
She was definitely dancing around, but she was listening reasonably well to flexing her head side to side. What she really wanted was for Patrick to save her, so she kept following him and would get nervous and start to circle toward him. Since our steering is still a little poor in the saddle, I was just trying to keep her from running to him.
The problem is that the arena is too large of a space to work in; however, I don't have any panels that I'm not using for something else (especially because she broke the gate). Though I'll have to figure something out, because at one point she decided she'd rather go be with the other horses if she couldn't be with Patrick--and off she went, galloping across the arena towards the far wall by the pasture. For a few breakneck moments, I thought we might try to clear the wall. But she stopped in the corner, which was both good and bad. I wanted to get off and work with her on the ground, but I also didn't want to reward her by getting off over by the other horses, and I didn't want another repeat gallop.
So I had Patrick come help me, because as long as she thinks she's on the lead rope, she's the most responsive horse ever. He led us over to the other side of the arena, and I got off and chased her around a bit. The goal: to move her without letting her push me around and go towards the corner. She was insistent and pushy, but I think I finally got the message across. She's such a sweetheart on the ground that it's hard to find something to work on.
Since our brakes are obviously something we need to work on, and since I've been working on "whoa" on the ground as much as possible, I had Patrick hold onto her and worked on bending her head/neck left and right (for the "one-rein" stop) and backing. Then I had him walk forward to teach her how to move forward to my leg squeeze (which she picked up quite well) and to stop in response to the rein pressure (which we may still have to work on a bit).
Overall, at the end I felt quite comfortable on her. What makes me happy is that despite not listening, she COULD have dumped me quite easily and didn't. What I just need is my round-pen back so I can just ride her in circles and stop and go. Once she knows how to listen to me, she will. Though there were definitely a few scary moments today, it's making me a more confident rider. Yes, she may freak out, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm doing to fall off. And now she's definitely used to me bouncing around in the saddle.
After I rode, Laura rode Brandy around the arena a bit and we made Sage stick with us to think about what she'd learned. She was a good girl and so patient, enjoying hanging out in the sun. On the ground, she's not herd bound at all, which I really like. I just need to make her just as confident with me in the saddle as on the ground. So, we were really quite successful in the end, and this was a great way to start the New Year!
Patrick is amazing and took some awesome pictures of us, while trying to save me at the same time:
Getting ready to get on -
This was where we started--
Then after a gallop this is where we ended up--
Learning to whoa--
Me saying that yeah, I think I'll be fine--
Learning to go and not be so pushy--
All smiles while watching Laura ride Brandy--
Laura walking Brandy around the arena--
Gotta itch: isn't she cute?--
Mustang dragon--it was cold outside!--