Since our new saddle arrived back in mid-January Henry and I have been getting back into the groove. I never really stopped riding him when I didn’t have a saddle but there were often long gaps between rides. And when I did ride, I didn’t ask for much. To be honest I never really was 100% comfortable riding him bareback. He’s quite bouncy and narrow… and I was still a bit tentative after my hat trick of falls last summer.
Our riding schedule is still unfortunately not the most consistent (sorry Henbot) due to my ankle injury/death flu and then the condo renovations taking over my life. But I clocked more hours in February than I did in December/January combined. I also look forward to riding him instead of feeling nervous about it. I was really whiteknuckling it those last few months with the bareback pad.
I am hopeful that now that the condo is listed we can get to work for real. And hopefully start cantering and doing some small fences again soon. At this point both of our fitness needs work and I don’t want to rush him without re-establishing some communication/straightness basics.
I ate only health foods while completing the renos
We had one ST lesson in February (on the 10th) and our homework was to develop a proper forward trot. A forward trot feels way too fast to me but apparently it just looks normal. I’m used to a smoother shorter-strided drafty trot I guess.
I was working on our forward trot on February 24 when my dog popped out of the corner we were riding by. After that the corner was haunted and Henry needed to be dramatic about it every time. I tried a few approaches (mainly circling and slowly getting closer to the evil corner at the walk and trot). I also at some point just decided to ignore him and make him go in there regardless of how weird and giraffe-y he was about it. I was proud of myself for digging in and making him work through his tantrum.
This canine decided to pop out at a terrible time
Then, all of a sudden, as we were finally softly trotting through the corner… he exploded. It felt like a rear but I think it might have just been a big leap. I lost my left rein and stirrup. My whip was somehow lodged under the left side of my saddle. My brain was like “oh crap, I’m going to hit the dirt”.
There was a split second in there after the leap where I was 99% sure he was going to start bucking. I was in a very similar position (tipped forward and off balance) to what started the 1st and 3rd bucking incidences. In that pause I could almost feel him thinking about it. But after the initial leap when I calmly (in my mind I was calm at least) said “whooooa buddy” he stopped. I praised him (almost in tears of joy) for making a good decision and listening to me. I straightened myself out and we walked calmly through death corner a few times and then moved on to a different exercise.
I know this is kind of a dumb thing to be so happy about, but I really am. He had a very clear shot at dumping me on the ground and didn’t. I attribute it somewhat to luck that I was able to stay on but also that I started stroking his neck and speaking to him in a calm voice when he panicked. The other times I tensed up and gripped for dear life (not that I blame myself for that but it didn’t help matters).
I realized after the ride that the big “explosion” was likely due to water (like half a cup) getting dumped on his neck from the sprinklers. I didn’t see it when I was riding but he had a huge wet spot on the left side of his neck that didn’t correlate with a sweat pattern. He lives outside and you know... has been hit by rain before so it’s a bit ridiculous to leap into the air over it but…. for a baby horse getting back into riding life I can give him a pass on it this time.
After we finished our other exercises I hopped off to cool him off and we spent some time in the scary corner eating cookies and getting pets.
I am super proud of my baby horse for using his brain. <3 And I’m very grateful to have stirrups!