Monday, March 14, 2016

Progress in the Saddle

I give myself an "A" for both effort and achievement in the saddle today.  I am forever trying to figure out some routine to beat my body to the punchline of its cruel, ongoing jokes, since my health is the biggest obstacle to me riding.  I stopped drinking coffee in the morning to avoid acid stomach.  That allowed me to ride Rock on the trails without the usual symptoms.

He was all amped up.  He walked off during the mount and just high-stepped it all the way up the driveway, across the street, and out into the desert.  I was like, "Who's horse is this?'

I usually have to wear spurs just to get him to take a few steps away from the barn.  I didn't think that the work I did with him in the arena would have fixed him that well.  Then I remembered that the last couple of times I took him out into the desert I let him graze on grass.  He will work for food.  Unfortunately for him, there was no grazing today.  I'm sure he won't be as eager to get out there next time.

See the magenta flowers in bloom on the cactus below?

I keep saying I'm going to get out there with my professional camera and macro lens to photograph it, but never get around to it.

It's hard to tell, but there are little yellow flowers in bloom on the bushes.

I had to stop Rock right before the gate and the street, because he was prancing his way home like a locomotive.  He was good about standing and waiting until I said it was okay to keep moving.

I planned to ride Gabbrielle next in the arena, but there were piles of manure everywhere.  By the time I got done cleaning them up, I was completely zapped of energy.  That's what happens if I don't drink my coffee in the morning.  So, I went in the house, fed the dogs their lunch, took them out to potty, fed myself a very light lunch and broke down to have a cup of coffee for the afternoon.  My stomach doesn't get as upset in the afternoon as it does in the morning.

That gave me the energy to get out and ride Gabbrielle.  She was acting kind of ridiculous, jerking her head all around while looking for things to spook at.  I thought I had better lunge her in the round pen before hopping on.  It took quite a while to get her to really listen to me.  She was going through the motions while surveying the surroundings in search of spooky stuff, but she wasn't doing what I asked.  I had a talk with her and told her to focus and get her head on straight, then she started paying attention to my cues.

So, I was able to ride her through the obstacle course.

Despite having the GoPro set up to take pictures every minute, there were very few pictures of the obstacle course.  Oh well.

The raven kept flying into the barn and dropping stuff into the water troughs, so I had Gabbrielle chase it off.  Then it got smart and started going to the water trough that was deeper in the barn.  I would have had to ride her up the aisle to chase it off, and since she's so spooky I didn't want to ride with metal fence panels on each side of us.  That's a quick way to break some ribs.  So, I yelled at Rock to chase the bird off, and he obediently turned around and started poking the raven with his nose through the bars.

Then the raven got really smart, and it dropped a piece of bread into Rock's stall to get him to stop poking it, and he ate it!  The bread -- not the bird.  I couldn't believe that horse would eat something that he doesn't even know what it is or where it came from.  You can see him eating the bread below while the raven looks on...
I'm just glad that my horses know the difference from when I'm yelling at a bird vs. yelling at them.

Gabbrielle just continues to impress me.  She is really a well trained horse.  She can do amazing stuff at liberty.  I can get her to side pass from the ground without using any ropes or whips.  I just use my body language.  She's quick to back up, quick to turn.  She's like a little sports car.

At one point I dropped the reins and took my legs off her to let her choose how she wanted to go through the obstacle course.  At first, she just headed to the shade by the barn, so I redirected her to the course and told her to choose her path.  I kept her on course by praising her.

I was having so much fun on her that I rode her a little too long, and she got sour.  She started asking me to get off, and when I wouldn't, she started her obnoxious routine of running backwards.  So, I had to keep riding her until she behaved like a proper lady.  Then I dismounted while she approved with a nicker.

As soon as I unsaddled her and released her, she rolled in the sand.  Despite her nervousness at the beginning, she didn't spook during our ride.  She flinched once when a neighbor dropped something heavy and made a boom, and I thought that was great.  If I could get her down to a flinch each time something scares her, I'd be more than happy.

Bombay wanted to do the obstacle course too, but Rock bit him right where the saddle sits on his withers, so I'll give that time to heal before riding him.


ellie k said...

Horses in Germany are fed a lot of stale bread. They seem to like it.

Crystal said...

I like Gabrielle shes so pretty and she sounds like a lot of fun, spookiness and all :)

Funny about Rock and the raven lol

Chris Ferrell said...

what a good day for you - well done!