First of all, I hope everyone had a good 4th! I spent the day doing a whole lot of nothing before going out to the barn and turning out/cleaning stalls etc this evening. My boyfriend works all weekend so now I’m home alone, snacking on popcorn while watching The Big Bang Theory. It’s ok. There are worse things I could be doing. It’s weird to have time to actually relax. My life is typically so go, go, go….it’s nice to be able to slow down for a change.
On Thursday my sister and I went riding together at the new pasture. I decided to go bareback on Pokey while C took a turn on Justice. She has ridden J before but not for any length of time. She praised him, saying how fun he is. Pokey did well also, showing almost no sensitivity on gravel (apparently he is doing well in his new shoes). He trudged along at his old Pokey pace. I call it his death march. He has definitely slowed down the past couple of months, which I attribute to diet change. However I’m not complaining too too much as this makes him the perfect mount for my daughter. (I joke that everyone in the family has 2 pets – my bf has the dogs, my daughter the cat and Pokey and myself, Siesta and Justice).
It was overcast and actually started raining halfway through our ride but we were able to determine that we do in fact have a good number of trails in the area. Although they aren’t really lengthy, they loop around in most cases, which is great for conditioning purposes! The surrounding land is obviously some sort of hunter’s paradise, with feeders and stands and blinds everywhere.
The pasture is also much flatter at the new barn and the grass is not nearly so lush or thick. This will give me an opportunity to school and do flatwork, which I’m actually looking forward to. I have ADD and riding in a ring has never really been my forte but even I’ll admit that riding the same trails over and over again gets boring as well. I’m hoping to purchase the materials to make my own jumps at some point, because I really miss jumping and I really think J would excel at it!
However, if life has taught me anything this year, it is NOT to plan on anything. I had high hopes towards the beginning. I had plans for this event and that event and I even paid for a stall and camping spot for a clinic that is supposed to take place next week, thinking that that would commit me. But then, my truck broke down. And the bf’s car needed new tags (it cost over $300 just to get it registered in this state!) And we went to the beach for a weekend. And, and, and. We are still trying to scrape together the money to fix my truck, and ultimately endurance has been put on the back burner. Quite frankly it still might’ve been something I could swing, had I not gotten Siesta. But I’m not sorry I did. I enjoy a challenge and she is it. And I can’t be too down about it – I’ve already gotten to do far more this year than I ever have before! Thus from this point on, I intend to just enjoy my weekend trips with Ashley and take whatever else life throws at me.
Speaking of wild rides, I had my first solo outing on Siesta yesterday. I have thus far mostly stuck to the ring when riding her alone but it was ridiculously hot and humid after the rain we’d had earlier in the day, and doing circles in the ring really didn’t appeal to me.
Crazy mare is a trip. She really is. She’s the kind of horse you can’t fix by chasing. I.e. moving her feet which as been my go-to for naughty behavior in the past, doesn’t necessarily work for her. In some, if not most cases, it only serves to aggravate and upset her.
So, I started by cross tying her. She is not good at this. She is also the only horse I’ve ever met that has somehow managed to get turned around in cross ties. I cannot leave her alone. She was fidgeting like crazy when I first pulled her, so I proceeded to clean her stall while she stomped and wiggled and pulled back and lunged forward. After about 40 minutes, she settled down. Of course as soon as I pulled out the bareback pad, she started wiggling again. I put it on her and walked away. (Only about 10 feet but that was far enough). In this way I removed myself from the situation and let her sort it out on her own. After another 15 minutes, she quieted down again.
I was able to go up at that point and bridle her. And then this happened.
That’s right. She actually stood in the barn aisle quietly, on her own and waited for me to tell her she could move. This is a big, BIG deal folks!
Of course, as soon as I asked her to lead out of the barn she was wide awake and oozing anxiety once again.
When it comes to mounting, it has been a nightmare. She won’t get close to the mounting block for me. She knows what THAT’S all about. And since I’ve been riding her bareback I can’t really mount her from the ground.
So I created a chute. Like so.
The big retangle is the arena (which is fenced). The small rectangle is a picnic table that sits beside it. And since no one ever uses the picnic table I took the benches and created an L, which I lead her into in order to mount.
Siesta is no dummy and she already had my number. When I led her toward it, she balked.
Eventually I managed to coax her through a few times. Then I asked her to stop. Then allowed her to walk out. And in. Stop. Wait. And out. In. Stop. Wait longer. Go out.
We repeated this a few times until she was comfortable with stopping in the chute and allowed me to lean over her back. At which point I mounted.
Usually she is good about not taking off until I ask but yesterday for some reason she jumped forward, and when I checked her she gave a little half rear in protest. I wasn’t properly seated and almost slid off but somehow managed to stay aboard.
Sometimes she will start backing madly if you ask her to ride away from the barn but she didn’t that day. Instead we headed down the driveway with minimal fuss and started down the road.
As luck would have it, the first thing to happen was my phone falling out of my pocket. I had to stop and dismount to retrieve it. I really, really didn’t want to take Siesta back to the barn to remount. Thankfully she is small and I was able to put her in the ditch and jump on that way. She actually stood for that as I don’t think she was expecting it.
If course once she realised we in fact were not headed home already, she threw a fit. She reared, tearing one of her bell boots right off and started backing rapidly down the road. In response, I swung her around and made her start backing UP the road and that quickly put an end to that.
We continued down the road without further incident. Typical of her, she was dripping sweat by the time we reached the prison farm. I swear I’ve never met a horse that sweated as profusely. However I suppose it’s better than not sweating at all. She has access to a salt block in her stall and also gets enduramax in her feed daily.
Our next challenge presented itself in the form of a herd of cattle. I still don’t think she was very afraid of them but she was confused as to why they were all gathered by the fence and she used their presence as an excuse to throw a little hissy fit and attempt to turn back. Again the backing and another rear (btw her rears are something of a non event, her front feet barely leave the ground and so I don’t really ever feel like I’m in danger). Eventually, however, I convinced her to tiptoe past them.
The rest of the ride went smoothly. She was strong but not running away with me strong. She even walked a bit.
I didn’t ride far. I didn’t want to overdo it. This was a big, new thing for us and since she was being fairly good, I didn’t want to push my luck.
Not so scared on the way back. All in all it was a decent first solo ride!
Fyi, this pic, taken today, more accurately depicts her body condition and weight. She is hippy but not bony. I want to clarify this because I would never ride her if she was really underweight.