I totally deserved it, and I didn’t even get it!

Most of us who have been riding a long time have really gotten launched big-time a time or two – and we can all recall in vivid detail that second when we realized something had gone very wrong. We realize it was our own lack of attention that got us here as we feel ourselves come unglued from the tack, and wish we could undo that split second where we just weren’t on our toes.

That should have happened to me tonight. I totally deserved it.

I’ve mentioned before that the VLC is antsy about mounting, but the last two rides, I’ve gotten him to stand still and even stay still after I was up. However, this is still kind of a crap shoot. I can get him to stop. I can remind him to stay stopped while I’m still on the mounting block. But he is a freakin’ mountain, and I need to grab mane to get up, even with the block. I cannot independently use my rein hand as I am mounting. And you can’t just have the reins tight, or he backs up. So I do my best to ensure he is actually stopped and looks like he is going to stay stopped before I put my foot in the stirrup.

We did have more activity than normal tonight. Josie started doing ground work with my yearling and he was basically farting all around objecting to her request that he not invade her personal space/mow her down like a bug. He is another VLC – 15 hands at 15 months and growing like a weed – and quite a bit hotter in temperament than the actual VLC as he is half Thoroughbred (same sire, though). Anyway, our deal is that I’ll ride the SSG and she will do groundwork in exchange with the Big Gold Yearling (hereinafter “BGY”), so she started doing that and he actually did really well. I’m sure she’ll blog about it…someday. 😉

Anyway, I put my foot in the stirrup and it turns out I misjudged the longevity of the “whoa” state. I started to swing up and he ducked to the right and walked off and I lost my balance slightly backward and – WHAM – clocked him right in the ass with my right knee.

I knew the second I made contact that I deserved to bite the dust for that one. He did scoot forward and of course I responded in my usual way at these moments: by yelling “SHIT!” and doing a somewhat scrambled and panicked version of the one-rein stop.

He stopped. I was still up there. He was upset; after all, he’d just gotten kneed in the ass for no apparent reason. I had enough presence of mind to let him walk and start doing our usual bending warm-up circles to get refocused – but I really had thought I was going to get launched and so my knees were jelly and I felt shaky all over. Great.

It took him about 2 minutes to forget the entire incident and relax. I probably had to walk an extra 10 minutes. We can see which of us needs more training here, can’t we now? Finally I decided if the horse was relaxed, I should be too and we proceeded with our ride. It was back to a sunny high 60s here and he’s always better when it’s warmer. I got really a nice trot both directions, not quick, reasonably consistent, etc. Since I had a witness around, I decided it was a good night to try out first deliberate canter. I came around the corner, kissed to him and gave him a little leg…and off he went! The first time he was on the wrong lead, so we broke down to the trot and then went back to it on the straightaway. That time he nailed it and I let him go around a little further. He even cantered around the short end. Wow, is he naturally round and collected. Then, haha, I wasn’t paying attention since my mind was on OMG WE ARE LOPING and – insert appropriate sound effect – he quietly careened to the center of the arena to visit with the SSG who was tied up there.

Oops. Yes, we must actually ride the horse, and not just go, YAY WE CAN LOPE!

So I reversed direction and we did a little bit that way. He got his lead, we cantered down a long side and I said ho. He SLAMMED to a halt. I mean, you should have seen it. Even Josie said “Wow.” One thing this horse has is a stop…a good thing when you are sixteen – f’ing – two. I still think that is ridiculously large. I know, you warmblood owners are laughing right now…Anyway, I couldn’t have been more pleased. We walked and cooled out and then we switched the tack over to the SSG.

This was ride #4 for the SSG and we did two new things. First, mounting from the block. The first ride, I got on off a panel and the second and third rides, from the fence in the middle of our arena. The SSG, although he is quiet about nearly everything, is antsy about weight in one stirrup and so I wasn’t pushing it. But hey, I had survived one near death experience already about mounting tonight, why not try again? I can’t say he was thrilled with the more traditional mounting but he behaved and stood even though he was insecure. That is the mark of a nice-minded horse.

Our second new thing tonight was the trot. We were doing very well walking on the wall and circling (virtually no balking tonight – this little guy learns fast!) but he still would like to go over and crawl in his mom’s lap. So I decided we would use this to our advantage. I told Josie to stand at one end of the arena, and I walked as far away as I could, circled back and gently asked for a trot. About halfway to Josie, I got it and what a great little trot this guy has! So smooth it’s almost like a gaited horse. I let him stop and get petted and then we headed back to take another try. That was a bit more difficult as there were many distractions. First, he wanted to visit with the VLC and the BGY, who were tied up in the middle. Then, his favorite kitty was on the fence so he wanted to stop and snarfle all over her. It would have made for a funny video – SSG sidepassing toward the kitty and me commenting along lolcat lines “Nooooo. No can socialize with kitty. Riding now!” while bumping him with my legs and trying to maintain our forward motion past the kitty. The second try, he was asleep at the switch…one thing’s for sure, he isn’t going to run off with anybody. So we gave it a third shot and that time he trotted the length of the arena very nicely. We quit – I remembered Mugwump’s blog about reward and so we quit. I got exactly what I set out to get and there just wasn’t a single reason to continue further. What a great little pony – someone is just going to love the heck out of this guy!

All right, time for bed. Project #3 arrives tomorrow – a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Thoroughbred mare named Honey in the Money who needs to further her education past what she learned at the track. I can’t wait! And yes, there will be more pictures soon. I know I’m way behind with that, but here is a picture of the BGY (although he’s much golder now, he wasn’t all the way shed out when this was taken.

Published in: on June 13, 2008 at 5:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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