Actually, the rainy day WAS Sunday this weekend. Grumble.
I still rode. See?
|Wet pony is wet.
We worked in the round pen before I mounted up (in an English saddle…more on that in a moment!) and he is getting much, much more fluid about reading my body language. He is still much better on the end of the line, with the halter pressure as a crutch of sorts, but even then, he’s responding more to my body language than the actual pull of the halter. He got himself worked up into a tizzy over D working baby Flynn on the other side of the back yard, but even then, he tuned back in relatively quickly. I’m enjoying the challenge he’s presenting himself to be in regards to liberty work.
Once he was completely paying attention to me (and after he had gotten himself nice and steamy…dingdong!), I brought him back into the barn to tack him up. It took a bit of fiddling, but I was able to fit him with D’s Duett Companion trail saddle. Now, I don’t like riding English. Usually, I’m riding in a saddle that is a seat size too small and meant to stick up in a forward seat for jumping. I do not do well in a forward seat. Actually, I usually go kersplat when I get forward at all! So, I was a little apprehensive.
I mounted up and was pleasantly surprised by how balanced I felt. The saddle fit my fat ass well (and that’s weird, because my aunt is a much smaller woman, though she reminded me after that this was the saddle that she had accidentally ordered in a too-big seat size) and I felt balanced and secure. Stupidly, I felt a wee bit proud. I’m not a confident rider by nature so I have to work at it, and without the “safety” of a deep seated saddle, I sometimes get tense. I was surprised at how relaxed and balanced I felt, even though the seat lacked depth and I had no dashboard holding me. It’s almost like I know how to ride or something! 😉
So, being brave and all, I started down the driveway to poke around on the roads. It had started raining the second I stepped into the saddle, but I was on already, so might as well. Simba was his usual “ohmahGAWD we’re off the PROPERTY I’m gonna DIE” tense self, but also per usual, he didn’t really refuse to do anything. He just…tiptoed, for lack of a better way to put it, down the driveway. He really does lack confidence. It’s kind of a given that he’d lack confidence in me at this point — I mean, we’ve only been together for two whole months — but he lacks confidence in himself as well. Thankfully, I’m pretty damn skilled at pretending to be confident, so I have no issues with pushing him forward when he’s asking “are you suuuuure…?” He’s very obvious with his body language and “tells” me that he’s going to spook or balk at something about three hours before he actually does it. The conversation goes a bit like this:
“What is that?”
“Nothing. Keep moving.”
“But…really, what is that?”
“It’s a rock. Nothing to be worried about, I swear.”
“I think it’s scary.”
“I know you do. You’re fine. I won’t let it get you.”
“I think I’m going to spook.”
“I think I’m going to spook!”
“I THINK I’M GOING TO SPOOK!!!!”
“I’M SPOOKING! I’M SPOOKING! OH MY GOD I’M SPOOKING!!!”
|He has the best bug eyed look. Giggle!
Then he ping pongs in between the reins and my legs trying to wiggle away or spin or something. Sometimes he truly spooks at something and it’s quick — that’s when he slams on the brakes, hard, and gives me zero warning — but that usually doesn’t happen. Of course, I say this as a prelude to this story: we were walking up the road, and something suddenly caught his attention. I was busy waving forward a car that had slowed down to a near stop. It happened all at once: I waved the car forward, and Simba rocked back on his haunches and did a graceful, mercifully slow spin away from the Evil Scary Thing (whatever it was). I squeaked in surprise and grabbed mane. Thankfully, my upper body took most of the beating — my leg caught his side and I didn’t get jostled out of the saddle at all. I promptly turned him around, waved sheepishly at the couple gawking at me from their car, and pointed my firebreathing dragon onwards.
I figured that if he had the energy to sit n’ spin, he had the energy to do some real work. The dirt road I like to ride on has a nice uphill incline, so we started working there. The first few times up and down, we kept it at a brisk walk. When I say walk, I mean WALK…not your little nervous tiptoe, not dragging your feet…march, damn it! Once I’d gotten a good, forward walk out of him twice up and down the hill, I asked him to gait. He gaited off nicely, holding the running walk all the way up the hill. I’m not big on travelling downhill at speed on a horse I don’t know well (read as: at all, ever) so we march-walked back down the hill. I repeated this twice more, until he was a little huffy-puffy. I let him walk until he caught his breath, and then decided to see where we really were with a canter button.
This is where we are going to struggle, I think, more than anything else. I have some canter issues, he has some canter issues, and we may need a professional to step in here. I’ve been bucked off many times at the canter, so my immediate response when I ask for a canter is to tighten up. He’s obviously not been asked to canter properly in a long time, if ever, so when I ask him for speed, he goes “eeeeeeeeeee!” and throws limbs in every which direction. Cute, but bouncy and makes my brain turn off because I get tense. It took us a few (ugly) trips up the hill, but I finally got a canter out of him. He didn’t offer to buck, which was nice, but it was definitely the most uncoordinated canter I’ve ever sat, and I’ve sat some uncoordinated canters before! Once we get really cranking that will be a major point to try and fix.
We headed back to the house just as the rain began to lighten up again. Simba has now learned where home is, so he tries very hard to be the one who makes decisions as to what gait we’re going to get there at. We did lots of stopping, standing, and restarting until he finally, grumpily, relented and walked the rest of the way home. 1, mama. 0, pony.
Saturday was a “fuss on the ground” sort of day. I long lined him, which he obviously knows how to do, so despite him getting his man-panties in a twist when D worked with Tory nearby, he was good and didn’t really give me a reason to keep fussing with him. I did learn, however, that someone made a very half assed attempt at teaching him to park out:
|“Maaaahhhhmmmm, stop laughing at meeeee!” Also doggie photobomb by Dolly the Border collie.
Needless to say, this is a little pathetic, but it was nice to see that he kind of knows how. I did some research the other night and the popular way to get them to park on the ground is to tap their fetlocks with your foot. So, I took my training stick, tapped his fetlock a couple of times, and ta-da! Parked…ish.
I have given up on keeping him clean for now. It’s impossible until I can kick him outside, which will hopefully be within the next month. He has, however, just started to shed…I am resisting clipping it all off immediately and just burying him in blankets until it’s warm enough to be naked. I won’t, I promise…but it’s tempting!
In other news, MY BOB MARSHALL IS ORDERED. High pitched squealy noises! I had a day of mourning when I had to ship my previous saddle out (which translates roughly into: I drank heavily that night and cried a lot over the silver nameplate I had kept), but I am keeping my eyes on the beginning of April, which is when I should be receiving it! The annoying blue Skito pad is already en route, and so is the Dixie Midnight pad, so that will be all set. The rigging converters are also on their way after a sneaky buy on eBay instead of having to try and find a pair of black ones through work. Now I’m left with finding a girth (but will leave that until I’ve got the converters; I don’t know if I’ll need an all purpose girth or a dressage girth at this point), finishing off my Taylored Tack bridle/breastcollar set (reins are being made as we speak), and finding slightly wider stirrups than the ones that are coming with the saddle. Is this what clothes shopping is supposed to feel like? Exhilarating and depressing all at once? Between money socked away, Christmas funds, and the saddle sale, I can easily re-outfit the critter. Admittedly, part of it is vanity (must. match. ahhhh!) but the other part is that he’s currently got a lot of Image’s stuff on and, to be honest, I’d like to put most of it away for now.
This weekend will be super busy with pony things and non pony things. I will be running back and forth all over New England. That is, if I don’t die trying to get to work during tomorrow’s Snowpocalypse…sigh. Stay safe and warm, everyone!