Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gabbrielle Under Saddle: Day 2

Normally, I start working with the horses after my neighbors leave for church on Sundays, because before then they are making fifty trips between their house and the vehicle while preparing for their outing, and it is just too distracting for my horses with all the door slamming going on. However, this morning I had to beat the thunderstorms, so I got out there early while my husband was still in bed sleeping.

The car that my neighbors take to church was already gone, and I got excited over my lucky break. I saddled up Gabbrielle, lunged her and ground drove her to review the cues, and then knocked on my daughter's bedroom window to ask her to come out and help. As soon as I got ready to mount, my neighbor drove up and a bunch of people and kids climbed out of the car. Apparently, they were making going to church a group effort this morning.

Once they finished slamming doors and went inside the house, I mounted, or at least tried my best. Gabbrielle started swinging her hips away to avoid it, so we just walked her back into position and said whoa. As long as I remembered to repeat the word "whoa" throughout mounting, she would hold still. My equitation instructor always gets on my case for tightening the cinch too much, and I noticed that the cinch had left an indentation in Gabbrielle's fur the last time I rode her. I don't want her to end up being a cinchy horse like Lostine, always taking nips at me when I try to tighten it, so I left it a notch looser than before. As soon as I started swinging my leg over, the saddle slid down Gabbrielle's side.

She jumped forward, but I was already committed, so I threw my foot into the opposite stirrup and leaned my weight hard to the right to straighten the saddle out. My poor daughter was wrestling with Gabbrielle to keep her still. At first I was going to ride her with the saddle loose, but then remembered the story of my broken arm.

You can still see the scar on it even though it happened seven years ago. I had ridden Bombay when he was only a few days under saddle and the cinch was loose. He got confused by my cues and launched into a bucking frenzy, which caused the saddle to slide down under his belly, which made him buck harder, and I threw myself off his bare back when I couldn't take it anymore. The lesson on that day was to always stay in the saddle. Better to tolerate a few dozen more bucks in the saddle than to end up in a hospital and recovering from a broken arm for the next three months.

I immediately dismounted Gabbrielle, tightened her cinch, and had my daughter walk her around a bit more to get the pinches out. Just when I was about to mount a second time, the neighbors and their friends came out. They were showing them around the yard and Gabbrielle was on high alert as they picked up and dropped items in their yard. Then the door slamming commenced. I was taking bets from my daughter on how long it would take them to actually get in the car and go. It was starting to look like they were leaving when the woman decided to walk her dog behind my barn to piddle and take a dump while everyone else waited for her in the car.

As soon as they drove off, I mounted a second time. This time my boot caught the handle of the step stool and made a crashing noise, which sent Gabbrielle flying away from me, but I hung on and was able to finish the mount, sloppy as it may have been. I'm sorry that my horse had to be introduced to bad mounting so early in her career, but it will only serve to make her closer to being bombproof in the future.

My daughter led on the lead rope while I gave the cluck and whoa commands. What we did different today was to turn tighter and add leg cues. On her first day under saddle I kept my legs completely off her. Today I used my legs as a pole for her to turn around as we made tight turns. This was a good exercise, because she did have trouble adjusting her weight with me on her back at first. I could feel her stumbling and her hind legs were coming out from underneath her, but by the 4th or 5th turn she had it all figured out.


fernvalley01 said...

Little baptism by fire for Gabrielle today huh? sounds like all in all she took it well .Sounds like she is a good minded little thing

Kate said...

I wonder what would happen, as an experiment, if you just pretended the neighbors weren't even there, no matter what they do and what noises they make, when you are working with your horses? Maybe because you're noticing all that stuff the neighbors do, as opposed to just ignoring it like it's routine background stuff, your horses then also consider it important and a cause for concern? A "whatever" attitude towards noise and distractions can work wonders towards settling horses down, at least in my experience. Just an idea.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Kate - The reason why I am concerned is because the man is extremely clumsy, and he's always dropping things like aluminum ladders, sheet metal, and plywood off of his truck camper roof. When he does that, the crash causes an instant stampede. I've been knocked down enough times by charging horses and have suffered a few broken bones due to horses stepping on my foot or running into me while looking over their shoulders at this man after he dropped something.

He accidentally sets off his car alarm on a daily basis. I can deal with it on my older horses, but I'm not taking chances with a horse that has only been ridden once. Also, I cannot control my emotions and fool a horse. Horses know exactly what you are thinking and feeling on the deepest level. This is a piece of advice that people give me on a regular basis, but it just doesn't work for me because of who I am. Believe me, my daughter and I were completely ignoring the neighbors with the exception of when I looked over a couple of times to gauge when they were going to leave, but Gabbrielle was totally focused on them and ignoring us.

Cheryl Ann said...

Nuzz, I love reading your blog because I'm learning so much! I'm hoping to ride Beauty sometime this summer, after mid-June, when I go in for my neurology checkup. Hopefully, I'll be okay to ride again! Your neighbors sound like complete jerks! But, I think your horses are pretty much used to all their noise by now, or not?

RiverBend Farm said...

Too bad you're having to work Gabbrielle around your neighbors. At least you got in another day.

Kate said...

Sorry your neighbors are so noisy and troublesome - I don't know what I would do in your place - I'm sure I would be incredibly aggravated. Sounds like you should be working on that planned move!

Lulu said...

You brought up a very good point. One piece of advice that John Lyons offers, when it comes to starting a new horse, is actually NOT to be too gentle. Otherwise, like you said, your every day actions may come as a surprise down the road.
The exact example he gave was regarding mounting. He said the first few attempts should not be "perfect" because you may have a messy mount down the road, and the horse could spook. As much commotion as you can make now, will most certainly set her up to be a steady horse down the road!!

Paint Girl said...

Sounds like you had a rough start with the mounting, but ended it all on a good note! Even with all the noisy, neighbor distractions.
Gabbrielle looks so good under saddle! She is so very beautiful.

Breathe said...

Not a bad second day! the distractions and struggles mounting will all work through.

I've gotten Lily over some of her cinchy behavior using a weaver cinch, which is easy to tighten slowly. I don't know if that would help. ..

City girl turned Country Girl said...

I'm thinking you need a bubble around your property!!! To keep the lurkers and nuisances to a minimum LOL!!

KD said...

Gabbrielle will wind up being a wonderful mount for you. We had to train our youngster with 4 wheelers screaming down the road and the guns going constantly at the range down the street. I even had my hubby go ahead a mow and use leaf blowers, etc - business as usual so that he would not think anything about it. Granted - my neighbors are not creepy like yours.

Laughing Orca Ranch said... scared me a little while I was reading about the saddle slipping and the rough mounting. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that Gabbrielle didn't act too crazy to cause you to possibly fall off.
You are so brave!

And Gabbrielle looks so cute under saddle. She gets prettier everytime you share a photo of her. :)

Be safe.