Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I hadn't ridden Lady for several weeks--or was it months? I had been riding Rocky, getting ready for a dressage show, and Lady probably thought I had forgotten her. In spite of my reluctance and fear, I made myself put the saddle on Lady and ride. We started in the indoor arena, in spite of some possibly scary scenery where the new barn connects to one wall of the arena. I had led Lady in to take a look a few days ago, and she showed a lot of interest without any real spooking. So I walked her around and made myself relax, then circled closer to the doorway with two orange cones and a muddy spot where it had rained in. It was good practice for being in charge, and I was proud of myself that she responded calmly to everything I asked of her. Soon I was asking for her smooth runnning walk, and I remembered why I enjoyed riding this special mare. She even went between the orange cones and the doorway, over the muddy area, without problems. After our indoor session, I decided to ride her out to the car (where I keep her saddle). Then I decided to go a bit further, onto the trail beside the pasture. Once I noticed the three bales of hay piled up to be burned, just at the corner of the trail, I was ready for Lady's reaction. True to form, she stopped. That's her way of saying, "I don't want to go any further." I let her stand a moment and look things over, then asked for one more step. She did as I asked. Several times, I asked for one more step, giving her adequate time after each step to think. I was proud of her as she walked past the hay bales, even though I could tell she wasn't totally relaxed. The wind in the big tree nearby didn't help, but Lady is not usually nervous about wind noise--just maybe a little today. Once we got past the tree, Lady settled into a normal walk. After a moment, I turned her for home and was pleased that she stayed calm as we walked back past the 3 hay bales, back to the car. She stood quietly as I removed the saddle and put it in the trunk. Step by step the confidence builds with each positive experience. Baby steps, yes, but moving slowly toward bigger ones later. At my age, I like staying safe.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Our boarding stable is in the process of adding a new barn, attached to one side of the indoor arena. I was scared to ride Lady in there during the construction, and I was even reluctant to take her in there for exercise. Part of the wall had been taken off, and you could look out that big hole to see the new barn being put up. I just knew she would spook! Finally, one day, I decided to take a chance. I led Lady toward the indoor arena, and I could see her head up, looking toward the different view than she had ever seen before. I stopped her before we reached the big gate to the arena, and let her look while I told her all about what was going on. I explained that a new barn was being built, and there was nothing here to hurt her in any way. I told her everything would look different and scary, but it was safe for us to go in and look around. I opened the gate, and let her take her time entering. I walked her around the side of the arena away from the opening, then walked toward it, letting her stop when she wanted to. She looked, standing quietly for a few minutes, while I told her that someday we would go into that barn, but it wasn't ready yet. I walked her around the arena, and let her stop and look again. I let her walk around me on the lunge line, and she stopped several more times to look out the open wall into the area of this new barn, now only an open shell with posts that will be the corners of the new stalls. I was a little surprised that she didn't make any move to turn away or act spooky. She seemed very interested as she stopped to look at this new thing she had never seen before. Perhaps my voice was enough to help her relax, since I wasn't afraid myself. I'm not saying she understood my words, but she was very calm the whole time, and I was pleased with her calmness. She did so much better than I imagined she would! Good girl, Lady! This was a confidence builder for both of us!