Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nervous Horse Alert!

As mentioned in previous posts, my new equestrian instructor wants to get me and my horses out of my little round pen and into the great big, scary world. He urged me to ride at the county fairgrounds with my new friend since I can't take off two-hours from work to take my lessons there each week. So, I called K and we arranged to meet there Saturday evening.

I didn't know much about K, having only met her while passing on a trail. I found out that I hit the jackpot when it comes to meeting the right person. K has worked with horses her whole life and is as good as any horse trainer. She showed English when she was younger, but is now only interested in trail riding. She was incredibly patient with me.

The point of our meeting was for us to ride together and get my gelding, Bombay, accustomed to being in a strange place with a different horse. K said that she likes to ride in the evenings because it is cool, quiet, and nobody is there. Unfortunately, on this evening, a barrel racing event was in progress.

K's beautiful paint gelding was calm, and not in the least bit disturbed by all the activity going on around him. Bombay was a nervous wreck. He has himself pumped up to the hilt! We cut him loose in a large arena where no one was warming up, then I free lunged him, then I lunged him on a line, then the barrel racers starting arriving to use the arena. They were very nice and allowed me a corner to continue my lunging. Each time a barrel racing horse would charge its way back to the finish line, Bombay would bolt, thinking there was a stampede running from some monster.

K encouraged me to tack him up, but I was adamant about not riding him until he settled down. I lunged him some more with his tack on, and then remembered that I forgot to bring my mounting ladder. K thought I was making excuses not to ride, and she ordered me to go get her step ladder. I stepped up and had my foot in the stirrup, but my stomach was in my throat. I was probably more scared than my horse. K kept saying, "One, two, three, heave yourself up there! Throw your leg over! Come on! Do it now!"

I took a deep breath and mounted, expecting to be bucked off immediately. Bombay did immediately walk off, but I was able to stop him. K rode beside us and directed me to walk him around one end of the arena since the barrel racers were busy warming up at the other end. Bombay was doing really well despite his nervousness. Then we changed direction and he humped up his back like he was a ticking time bomb. Each time another horse entered the arena, he spooked to the side.

I looked down and realized that my equestrian instructor would be very disappointed in me. I had reverted back to my old habits, such as holding both reins in each hand and pointing my toes out. I tried to adjust my position and Bombay got nervous and jiggy. Once I settled in, he settle in and we were able to jog in both directions. K's horse had a big trot and Bombay wanted to keep up, but I held him back. I love his dainty jog and wanted to keep him at that pace.

I finally decided to let him trot and without thinking I started posting. I should have done something to warn Bombay that I was about to start posting, because coming up out of the saddle totally took him by surprise, and he launched into one of those bucking bronco fits where he humps his back up, jumps up, bucks, twists, and bucks again. I settled him down and got him back to that jog. The fast trot was just a little too much to ask of him in that strange place with all those strange horses and strange noises.

K showed me how to load Bombay by myself by standing in the trailer behind the open partition. She encouraged him into the trailer, and swung the partition shut before he could turn around. She made it look easy. On the way to the fairgrounds, I had to get help loading my horse, because as soon as he got in, he backed right out before I could close the partition. I had been standing at his head and needed someone outside the trailer to take the lead rope through the window and hold his head forward so that I could move past the horse and close the partition before he backed out or tried to turn around.

K told me she'll have me riding the trails in two weeks. I'm supposed to meet her at the fairgrounds several nights a week, and she'll help me. Apparently, she's used to dealing with chickens like me and Bombay. She says she likes to get horses out of what she calls their "retard" state, in which they have a comfort zone at their stable or home and have mental blocks when it comes to dealing with anything outside of that. I feel very blessed to have found her. This is exactly what my horses and I need. My equestrian trainer knows that, but we have time restraints that prevent him from giving me the instruction I need in the place where I need it. K is kind of picking up where my instructor leaves off. She's helping us get that real world experience.


Farm Girl said...

I love reading your blog, and now I'm really jealous of your new friend K. I don't have anyone anywhere near near me that even rides. I need the kind of help that K is willing to help you with. Can I come over? You have beautiful horses.

onTheBit said...

I am so proud!

Callie said...

Sometimes, one really needs that super confident person next to you to reasure! Glad you found K. Wish I had a "K"! Good job and keep it up! I know exactly how it feels!

AnnL said...

Oh, hooray!! I must say, I admire you for what you have accomplished on your own. I didn't start riding until I was an adult, but when I did start riding, I started off with weekly lessons and I always boarded my horses, so there were always other people around to help and to give me the encouragement I needed to get out on trails and get the experience I needed. So, you've done great on your own, but now, between the lessons and K, you'll be amazed at how quickly you progress. I'm so happy for you! And, good for you for remembering your lessons with all that stuff going on!


Flying Lily said...

What a great find K is!!! This is what I love about horse people, the helpfulness and generosity. I'm so glad you have a good pal to 'pony up' and get you out there. Bombay will come along fast - he is a smart horse.

Train Wreck said...

Oh Can I come too! Seriously! I just joined the drill team. My horse does great during practice. It's the "public appearances" that freak her out! It's pretty hairy at times!! I know it will just take time to get her "exposed" In the mean time I need a valium!

Lulu said...

LOL! Your new friend sounds an awful lot like me!

Twinville said...

Yay for K! :)

She showed up just in the nick of time. What a blessing. She sounds encouraging and supportive, yet firm, just what you need right now.

My neighbor, Val is alot like K and I'm glad she's right next door, if I should ever need her. She's much tougher and self confidant around horses than I am, and I'm learning alot.
It's a good thing right now because finances are really tight and I just can't afford the $100.00a week lessons from my instructor.

I'm really impressed that you are so in touch with Bombay and able to read his moods and body language and were able to hang on during his bucking moment. You rock!

Shirley said...

I'm so glad you have found someone to ride with; it is always good to have someone there to encourage you. One thing I will mention, and please don't take this as criticism of your horse, but have you thought of finding a been-there-done-that- kind of horse to ride for a while; maybe one you can lease or borrow to get your confidence up? It's amazing how much you can learn on an old campaigner that you can then transfer when you ride your regular horse. Just a thought; I'm concerned for your safety. It's no fun riding a horse that feels like a ticking time bomb; I know because I've been there.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

farm girl - Sure, you can come over.

onthebit - Glad to make you proud.

Callie - Somebody has to be confident, that's for sure. Otherwise nothing would happen.

Ann - Thanks for the input. I like to hear how others got started.

Lily - K is definitely a great find.

train wreck - Yes, you can come too.

lulu - Maybe I should meet up with you too.

Twinville - Yes, those lessons add up in a hurry. I told K I feel like I should be paying her. I'll treat her to lunch or something to show my appreciation.

Shirley - I actually do have a lot of miles in on trail riding dead broke horses. I think anybody would be intimidated by Bombay when he's nervous and excited. Trainers who have worked with him have admitted that. I'm planning on taking my mare to the Fairgrounds to see if she settles down faster. My goal is to get both of my horses to a point where I can ride them anywhere.