Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Getting To Know You...

I haven't ridden Gabbrielle in over a year.  It seems I've started and restarted her under saddle so many times that I'm almost afraid to ride her.  She's like the novel I've been writing.  Each time I get engrossed in the project, something comes out of left field that requires all of my time and attention and I get dragged off in some other direction.  There's also this issue of which she is a very petite, small-boned horse, and I am a heavy woman -- a lot heavier than I look, at least.  So, I've been letting lighter weight people ride her.

Everyone in my gene pool is skinny except for me, and I attribute my weight issues mainly to hormonal imbalances.  So, I've been waiting to go through menopause to see if I will instantly start shedding the pounds, like I suspect I will.  However, despite my doctor checking my FSH levels and informing me that I should go through menopause within the next year, that year has come and gone, and I've had no such luck.

So, I give up.  The horse needs to be ridden, and I'm sure I'm not going to crush her.  P.S. got her own horse, and Gabbrielle has just been standing around in the barn looking forlorn, staring up the driveway waiting for her rider to appear.

I went outside to put the horses in their stalls and to halter Gabbrielle for a ride, and right on cue, a really loud diesel truck came roaring up the street and pulled into the driveway of the house that is up for sale next door.  The reason why I say "right on cue" is because whenever I rode Gabbrielle at my old house, the neighbors always would fire up some loud power tool or engine and send her into spooking fits.

The driver was idling in the driveway next door when he spotted me in my bright orange shirt in my backyard, and he gunned it like he was going to race right into my back yard to ask me questions about the neighborhood.  The only problem was that there was a locked gate in his path.  He got out and tried to open it so that he could come closer and talk to me, but had no such luck.  Thankfully, he left and didn't try driving down my own driveway to get to me.  I was short on time.  Since the temperatures are cooling down, humans are coming out of hibernation, so a lot of strangers have been coming to my door this week and I've had my fill of interruptions.  I don't want uninvited people bothering me in my home.  It's disruptive and annoying.

No sooner did the truck driver leave and a neighbor started shooting off a gun doing target practice.  Ugh.  Then my phone rang, and at that point I knew I had to just choose whether I was going to ride this horse or not.  I let the phone go to voicemail and I rode.

P.S. and the horse trainer have been mainly concentrating on refining her at the lope all summer, so she wanted to take off running right away.  I had to let her know that I was only interested in walking at the moment.  She understood.  We also practiced standing and relaxing, because apparently she interpreted stopping as a signal that a predator was lurking nearby.

I need to get to know her quirks and needs, and she needs to get to know my style of communication.  The first thing I noticed is that she's a very sensitive horse, and that makes her a bit jerky.  She accelerates and stops quickly, and she turns harder than one might expect from a horse, so I have to be a very balanced, very quiet rider.  She interprets every little movement as a communication asking her to do something different, and if she doesn't understand the cue, she just starts trying different things and waiting for either a release or a correction to indicate if her answer is right or wrong.

She wasn't shy about letting me know when she was bored with an exercise.  At one point she tried to shake me off her back and I said, "Don't do that again."  When she got bored I stepped it up and asked her to do something more complex.  She's got her backing and side passing down pretty well.

The only saddle I have that fits her slides down to one side, so I had to keep rocking it back up, and each time I shifted my weight, she came to a halt.  I'm used to horses who keep cruising at whatever speed you left them at, and who just ignore all my movements in the saddle.  So, I will have to work on some cruising exercises with her to help her become responsible for maintaining the gait I set her at, and to help her tune out whatever else I'm doing on her back that isn't relevant to the lesson.  Ultimately, she and I just need to work out our own routine in order for us to feel comfortable with each other.

Despite the awkward ride, I did recognize that she was simply trying to please me.  She's a kind, intelligent, obedient horse.  I was trying to equate riding her to some kind of car.  Lostine is like a souped up sports car that is low to the ground, Bombay is like a Cadillac, and Rock is like a jeep or some other kind of off-road vehicle.  At first I wanted to say that Gabbrielle is like a soap box derby race car, because when I raced those cars, I only used the steering wheel as something to hold onto, and steered by leaning from one side to the other because the steering mechanism was way too sensitive.  But a soap box car didn't make sense because they coast, and Gabbrielle's acceleration and braking are jerky.  So, I decided to equate her to something little with a stick shift, like a VW Bug.  The only thing is that she looks more like a classy luxury car on the outside, something like a Mercedes Benz.  Hopefully, she'll drive like one someday.

Some grass grew in the round pen after the last couple of systems came through, because I've been spreading manure in there to soften the ground.  It's really hard packed right now.  The grass is beginning to look like it's going to die, so I put Bombay and Gabbrielle in there to enjoy Mother Nature's gift before it disappears.

Tomorrow I will let Lostine and Rock have a turn.  Of course, Gabbrielle, my whitest horse, decided to take a manure bath and roll in it.


achieve1dream said...

I don't want to pester you, but I would like to email you about the gluten thing... Memory problems are part of it. Also I lost fifteen pounds without even trying!! Do you mind if I email you about it? I don't want to pester you but I feel so much better and if any information I can share would make you feel better that would be so awesome!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

achieve1dream - Yes, of course you can email me about the gluten allergy. I know I'm lactose intolerant. I once shopped at a market with a gluten-free aisle, but it was a tiny selection. I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.

achieve1dream said...

I emailed you! Beware, it's long LOL!