Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back in the saddle again!

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.

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