Back in the Saddle, Day Two

I managed to mount from the rock block yesterday, and though dismounting still required assistance (more practice on the western saddle on its sturdy rack should help!)  and ride Rags for the very short amble around that is what he needs at this stage of coming back into work.  He thought ten minutes was five minutes too long.   By the end of the first week, weather permitting daily rides, he’ll be doing fifteen…and each week will add fifteen minutes until he’s at an hour a day, all at a walk.  Depending on how he looks and moves, the second four-week stretch will add trotting in the first week, very short stretches lengthening (along with the total), to 1 1/2 hours and longer sustained trots.  Third four week stretch (again, weather and ground permitting) will add canter.   Slow and safe progression.

Today’s ride was in the Near Meadow, just north of the horse lots.  Windy and bright and lovely.   We started with a surprise tumbleweed bounding past us: Rags stopped, stared, but was willing to go on when it was well past.  We looped around some isolated trees, between other trees where there was enough clear space, and Rags (who’d been dubious about the whole grooming/saddling thing today) seemed to enjoy it.   Mounting was slightly easier and dismounting with the aid of the top rail of the portable stall and R- putting some weight on the off stirrup, went a little better, too.  The pictures he took show my still-existing riding faults (crooked back, collapsed hip, that kind of thing) but they’re fixable in time if I just keep at it.  An instructor hollering at me several times a week would help, too.

The bright side is that I find sitting well and balanced *much* easier without the 45+ pounds of extra weight I was carrying before.   It feels closer to “right” –the saddle fits me better, I can feel Rags’s movement under me better, and less weight above the waist means my balance doesn’t change when he trips or shies or does his sudden “That’s enough; get off now” stop.  I enjoyed riding even when very heavy, but this is a lot more fun because I can control my own body more easily.   And feel the details of his movement more easily, too.


We started out riding north-ish across the Near Meadow; the undulations in the ground between the gate and the old ditch crossing are from cattle trails and the erosion of water that ran in them in heavy rains.  So the grade changes back and forth as well as amount.  The lusher green is where the water runs (or stays) after rains.  We didn’t go across the ditch today; it’s got rocks in it and I want Rags to have hoof boots when he walks on rocks.


By the time we were finishing up, I’d ridden back and forth on both sides of this trail, winding around isolated trees, going between trees where there was enough room, etc.  Rags seemed to find it interesting and even fun.   Tigger always worried when I take Rags away from him, and wants to sniff him all over when I bring him back.  They both got cookies when I was done untacking Rags, grooming him again, etc.

16 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle, Day Two

    1. Thanks. Yesterday I wasn’t sure how he’d be today–would he want to stop short at 5 minutes?–but out of the horse lot and into the wide open, he seemed quite willing to be exploring the edges, etc. We had a couple of “OH what’s that!!?” moments but his version of those is so easy to ride and so short that it wasn’t a problem even when I was heavier and now is dead simple to sit. When I was riding him, before the long layoff, he did seem to want to go out and cover some ground, and I was glad to see that show up again today. I want to get him over to the burned area, because it will have short grasses (and some taller) on it, but now is open so he can see things. I want to get him on the north fence trail, which needs checking daily (and the Fox Pavilion trail, where the wildlife waterer also needs checking daily in cool seasons and twice daily in summer…and then over to both the fence-checking trails and the gully trails across the dry creek, because Owl’s wildlife waterer has the same needs as Fox’s. Cloud’s easier to check; it’s accessible without getting onto rocks at all. In the fall of 2019, I rode him down to the entrance meadow in the creek woods, where he enjoyed some Indiangrass, and we have a trail inside the woods down to the south near Cloud. We used to have a trail crossing the creek and running to the gully system; now we could use one looping back from the N-fence-to-gully trail to get to that crossing and the trail south. All would be fun to ride, once cleared enough to be safe, and would give variations in the day’s work.

  1. Woot, so glad to read this. It sounds like you both had a good experience. Great pictures (thank you R). I hope you both continue to enjoy the process (and Tigger doesn’t get too stressed).

    1. Very good for me; I hope Rags feels at least it was pleasant. He would really prefer all the food and no work, but he perked up when we went out into the Near Meadow and we were walking around on the lush winter grasses…then again, when I headed back to the gate we’d come out, he was eager to get in. He’s been out of work so long that I’m sure he does “feel it” even in a ten minute ride at a walk. Once he’s in regular work, he’ll always have one day off and one “light” day a week.

  2. Thanks, Leslie. Rags is indeed a very good boy when I’m riding (his attempts to snag a snack, find out if I’m edible, and steal Tigger’s food the moment Tigger walks away for any reason, not so much.)

  3. Hi – lookin good. Now all you need is a space ship and you can compete in the big steeplechase races. But we have been wondering if you would ever get back on the horse. And is Tigger ever going to be ridable again?

    Have a very good holiday.

    Jonathan up here in frozen New Hampshire

    1. It’s not right to get on a horse who needs hoof care (and I’d tried multiple farriers who just flat couldn’t come, or wouldn’t come, or didn’t come after they said they’d call back with a time.) Thus riding had to wait until a) they got their feet done and b) they had some time to get used to the new balance. Hooves keep growing (or break off, or both, on different feet) when not trimmed. That changes the angles of joints in the lower leg and setting the hooves correctly will then strain the previous maladjustment. Riding at that point would hurt the horse, and possibly injure the legs. So don’t.

      I do not know if Tigger will be rideable in the future. There’s the physical stuff–the injury to his sacro-iliac joint, which could be permanent, the resulting injury to his right hip, ditto, and the stress on his other three legs when that leg was always contracted and just off the ground. A year and a few months ago, he was still showing slight lameness on straight lines at trot, and more lameness on a circle in the direction that asked more of the injured limb. I don’t see that now on *our* ground, but the testing is done on concrete. He will get another full lameness exam before he’s saddled again.

      And then there’s his psychological state, which affects his trainability, his emotional stability, and thus his suitability for a riding horse in various settings and at various gaits. At his best, before any injuries (and he’s had others, before I bought him) he is a very “hot” horse–extremely forward, extremely sensitive–and whatever treatment he received early on did not set him up to quickly trust and feel friendly toward people. I was making good progress with him before the injury he had here, but progress since then has been extremely slow. A “soft” very hot horse can be a safe ride for its person or someone like them, but very hot is always more responsive and reactive than a cooler horse. Kallie was a soft hot horse, so was Kuincey, so was Macho, and so was Ky.

      A “hard” very hot horse–who does not trust people, who doesn’t seem to want a human friend–is much harder to deal with than a “hard” cooler horse. Hard horses need a good rider because they’re going to be prepared for bad handling with resistance and even (as with Mocha who bucked me off in 2018) violence. Molly was hard, but not violent. Neither was as hot as Tigger. So for a hard very hot horse to be safe requires a very good rider who knows how to ride hot horses (don’t rile them, don’t start trouble, don’t make stupid mistakes in management or handling or riding), and who is tolerant of the ‘hard’ side of them. In Tigger’s case, he still needs a solid re-training because of time passing and the damage to his mouth (which he had when I bought him)–he needs to be ridden without a bit.

      So there’s yet a third issue with riding Tigger: am I, as I am now (not 20-30 years ago) capable of giving Tigger the kind of handling he would need? At the moment, definitely not. Rags puts up with clumsy mounting and dismounting: Tigger wouldn’t. Couldn’t yet. Rags puts up with my posture shifting, my weight going off-center at times. Tigger would react to everything: tone of voice, the precise position of my body. He needs to sense a steady, relaxed but definitely guiding presence up there. I’m going to be honing my very degraded skills on Rags, to prepare *in case* the vet says Tig will be OK carrying weight. And if that begins to look possible I have in mind an instructor who will evaluate me on other horses, and with whom I can discuss whether my skills are up to re-training a hot horse like him to go bitless and be safe enough.

      Back to short answer: I don’t know if I’ll ever ride him, or if anyone ever will. If it’s possible, and if I can do it without more than the risk any hot horse poses, you’ll see a picture here. But I can’t afford another buckoff like the 2018 one, until I’m ready to die.

  4. Well, even Lady C. realized it was time to quit competitive riding – and you do not have the Rejuvenation Treatment. But you are very kind to keep Tig and not send him to the glue factory. We all too often just use animals and then just discard them – but it is a Chinese obligation, save them and you have them for life.

    Have a very good holiday today for you and yours.

    Jonathan up here in freezing New Hampshire

    1. I could not possibly send a horse to slaughter. I have put several horses down, when it was time, but in a way that caused them as little distress as possible. Most often the vet came here–familiar person, familiar place, I haltered them led them, was there talking to them. Tigger…if I can’t get him back under saddle, he will be put down if I’m not able to keep him–dead or disabled, for instance–by the vet service he knows. We discussed this. He will never be chased onto a truck by men with whips, run through chutes, dragged if he falls…no.

  5. This all sounds very positive, well done! And well done Rags for being so tolerant. I feel rather sorry for Tigger, who so longs to be part of it all and can’t be – perhaps in a few months you can ride Rags and lead Tigger?

    Anyway, I hope you have had a lovely Christmas Day; ours was not as expected due to a positive Covid-19 test (he’s absolutely fine; if he hadn’t tested, you’d think it was just a mild cold), but we have just had a delicious meal!

    1. Best wishes for your next year, Caryn: may you have good health, sufficiency of all you need, and joy and friendship. Glad you’re feeling optimistic (and cautiously is prudent!)–I expect continuing political problems down here as the irresistible force and the immovable rocks crunch together, but also have hope that with a better senior administration in D.C. we will get some traction in moving away from hate and anarchy, and toward those behaviors that lead to a better outcome for more people.

  6. Thank you all (Elizabeth, Rags, and R) for this holiday treat! The photos give me a physical shot of joy and the technical details you foresee coming into play rather remind me of Ky. She is always thinking ahead, with a firm grasp on the technical details. Reading about your insights I find myself hopeful that you will shape your own future, and that of your four legged companions in a wonderful way. Best wishes for the New Year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.