Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Warm Weekend, Big News

Early November '09 is being seriously good to me. No snow yet, and temperatures in the 40s and beyond. So I've been able to ride outside, and postpone the inevitable confinement to the indoor arena. Last weekend I rode three days in a row, which I've never done before. But I wasn't about to waste that nice weather!

After our iffy ride on Friday, I went out later on Saturday to watch a lesson, and decided to ride down the road. Sofie was dubious, but once I headed down the driveway she got happier. At first I was a little nervous (I don't normally do things like ride down the road on a "fresh" horse, but the day was warm, so I figured I would be all right) but I had a good ride and rode farther down the road than I ever had before. There was hardly any traffic (even though it was a Saturday afternoon) and the shoulder is nice and wide. However, Sofie would actually rather walk on the pavement than on the nice, wide shoulder. Especially when the shoulder narrows as we get closer to the barn, she tries to drift out onto the pavement. She has always had a pavement fixation, even when she had crap feet. Maybe she likes to hear the "clip-clop" noise as she walks? Damned if I know. But I do know that I prefer not to ride on pavement, since the potential for my horse slipping on the stuff is something I would rather not contend with. So I steer Miss Sofie away from the pavement, and she goes "Hmmph. You're no fun."

After we got back to the yard I wasn't quite ready to get off, so I asked her to trot. She balked and and protested a bit, but I kept my leg on and she trotted off. Then we got to the "scary corner" (there's always a scary corner in any remotely square or rectangular shaped riding area. The huge YARD where I ride Miss Sofie is no exception) and she stared at the trees, trotted faster and then broke into a canter. We cantered through the front yard, then I brought her back to a trot, made her bend in a couple different directions, stopped her, backed her up four steps and then got off.

Sunday's ride was excellent. The weather was absolutely perfecto, and we did more cantering than ever before. Sofie was NOT pleased at the idea of being ridden for the third time in a row, and was a bit of a butthead during the saddling and mounting up process, but once I got on and started riding her around she realized that she had lots of energy and was pretty happy to move out. After her initial "I don't WANNA trot, beyotch" reaction to my initial "Please trot" aid, she was excellent. We cantered several times tracking left, and she kept improving in her relaxation and responsiveness. Then I decided to try to canter her tracking right, as she was quite eager to canter that day. The right is her weak side, probably due to both of her right feet having abscesses in the past. And I've been using the magical, magnetic pull of the barn to encourage her to canter, and there's not quite as much of an inviting, open stretch of yard going towards the barn when we're tracking right. But we had success! The first time I attempted to ask, it didn't happen, but the next two times, she went into the canter with no tail-swishing, balking or any other resistance. And she took the correct lead both times! Hooray! She couldn't hold the canter very long on that side, and it felt a little weak/unbalanced, but I was incredibly pleased that she was willing to canter on her "bad" side, and is starting to take my direction instead of going "No way, beyotch, I'll canter on MY terms, not yours". She's been such a good girl lately.

Now for the BIG NEWS. I'm getting a lesson on Sofie this Saturday. With my all-time favorite trainer, the only trainer I would trust with my little messed-up-but-improving-all-the-time grade Paint mare. DUDE I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. OMG FREAKING OUT.

Let me explain. While I was leasing the little pinto pony gelding, Sue, my all-time favorite trainer in the universe, would occasionally come out to my trainer-at-the-time's barn to teach lessons. Sue can get on any horse, no matter how crappy or crazy or messed up it is, and make it look amazing. She doesn't do what a lot of trainers do, which is pull the horse's head in to make it look like it is "on the bit". She somehow creates a situation with her body and her aids where the horse reaches for the contact, starts using its hind end, and goes on the bit. For real. She can work with and improve any horse, and I've never seen her stress out a horse or push too hard. She works on your position and the way you ride (OMG, does that actually AFFECT your horse? WHO KNEW, right?) and actually explains things, instead of just telling you "Circle left. Now circle right. Pull his head in more, he's not on the bit enough!". She is incredible. But she very rarely teaches at my barn due to insurance requirements. Occasionally the local Pony Club has her out for their mounted meetings, and that is happening this Saturday. And I ran into one of the Pony Club setter-uppers this morning in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and I totally got in on the mounted meeting as a "guest".

I haven't had a lesson on Sofie EVER, and I am so excited for this opportunity. Of course, I am also nervous and imagining all kinds of disaster scenerios, since my mom will be out of town and Sofie might be a little nutty since there will be New Horses there, and there will also be people from Pony Club there that I....do not necessarily get along with. But I have to just make myself look forward to it, and not worry. It will be what it is, and I will make the most of it. I must be positive and visualize Sofie being at her best that day, and Sue loving her.

It will be a good experience.

I will not ruin it for myself with my incessently worrying nature.

Well...I will try.

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