Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Ride

Sofie has been doing so well that I decided to try riding her on Sunday. She's been able to trot and canter (albeit only on the left lead, and mostly tracking right, but what else is new?) while free schooling in the arena, and she's moving more freely forward. She had a lot of energy when I free schooled her, and paid slightly less than no attention to me. When I stopped walking (which is her cue to stop), instead of stopping and turning to face me, she kept walking, and walking, eventually stopping in front of the door to the mares' three adjoined paddock areas. Which was highly annoying, I might add. I only free schooled her for ten minutes, because I wanted to ride, and I thought she might overdo the counter-canter and start going a little bit lame. I also knew I was taking a definite chance on Fireball making an appearance during our ride by cutting her free-schooling time short, but I hoped for the best.

Her attitude about being tacked up was pretty good, except she still doesn't like the initial girth fastening. It doesn't matter if I put it on one and one, I still get the head-swinging-back "I could bite!" reaction. The saddle fits her really nicely, and it doesn't shift around on her, even with a loose girth, so I think it is a sternum issue. She probably needs some massage in that area, in addition to her hind end (she gets massages from my mom every time we go out there, and recently I've started massaging her, too). When we were ready to ride, I decided to handwalk her out in the Big Field for a bit, since that was (hopefully) our eventual destination. I wanted to ride out there at least once before hunting season was over and the geldings went back out there.

The pony was wild (i.e. snorty and very alert, but pretty much just walking nicely at my side) as I led her around, checking the footing for super iciness (the ground was frozen with a dusting of snow in places and thin little icy pieces, but nothing too dangerous except rock-hard manure piles. Pony tripped over a couple of those) and watching Pony for signs of Fireball-ness. Pony held it together until we got to the fenceline she doesn't like, especially now that there are deer camps set up beyond the woods, so she can hear barely audible Strange Voices and see occasional, possibly imaginary Things that may or may not be Actual Things. We were right near the orange snow-fence repair in the fence, and there were also New Boards in the vicinity. It was all too much for Pony, and she spooked, flew backward, and kind of darted behind me, fortunately not slamming into me, running me over or getting away. She did brush me a bit, and it's amazing how much of an impact it can feel like when a 960-lb. large pony brushes against you at a high rate of speed. I was leading her by the reins, and I hadn't pulled them over her head to use as a long lead, either, so my hand was a few inches from the bit. My arm did get strained, as I found out the next morning (it hurts to slice cheese, even...oy), but fortunately I strained a different muscle than I normally do, yay for that! And Fireball didn't go go lame after her burst of energy, either, which was nice to see, since a week or so ago she went lame from a much quieter little spin.

After Sofie attempted to use me as a human shield from whatever it was that was going to eat her, I wisely brought the reins over her head, gave her some slack, and led her around on a circle until she walked past the super scary place reasonably calmly, and then we walked back to the barn, still spazzing slightly about the whatever-it-was, but only needing an occasional reminder to pay attention and not be an idiot. My mom drove up as we we heading to the barn, and walked up to the fence, concerned that I had fallen off. "Nope, but we're not ruling it out for today!" I said, or something similarly witty at any rate.

I started off the ride in the indoor, wanting to evaluate Sofie's movement (as well as her Wheeeeeee! factor). She walked off without complaint, feeling good, not at all stiff. Her back was swingy and her hind end felt solid. I sat on her, not really doing anything, and she went around on the rail better than she ever has, not drifting, even when I changed direction. "Maybe Choo-Choo texted her 'Watch your back'," I said jokingly to my mom (more about Choo-Choo in my next post). Eventually I took up a little contact and worked a bit on flexion, doing some turns and large circles, all at the walk, and she was quite good for all of that. I felt the improvement in my position and riding from the lessons I've been taking, which was really nice.

After that nice little work in the indoor, I decided to go out in the field, at least for a few minutes. "I can always get off," I said to my mom, like I always say as I embark on a field ride with my questionable horse. Sofa was very "keen" to get out there, and she listened much less than she had in the indoor, but we walked around without getting into trouble (I did stay away from the snow-fence area). It was a gorgeous day out, really pleasant with a little sunshine, and it was so nice to get out and ride. I halted her and got off after she started feeling a little bit "off". I don't want to push her beyond what she can handle right now, since even a short ride can be productive (possibly more so than a longer one, at this stage of the game), and I'd like to be able to keep riding and not have her go lame. She wasn't resting her leg after I dismounted, and she wasn't short-striding or picking it up in discomfort. So, yay, a ride after two weeks and two days! Awesome!

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