Ride 14: Rough start, good overall, patchy

I did groundwork with Tigger first, with Rags tagging along and wanting to do to Tig what Tig does to him.  Made for some annoyance on my part, trying to get Rags NOT to do things that would get him kicked.  Tigger, however, objected to my shaking the dressage whip at Rags (Rags didn’t look worried) and then got between us…”Don’t you beat up MY herd.”  But politely.  I remember my collie dog getting between me and my mother one time when she was scolding me, and quietly pushing her away from me.

Then I did groundwork with Rags in the small barn lot, with Tigger locked outside, watching.  The goal was to start on moving his hindquarter, first one way and then the other…and then a short walking breadk…and then moving the forehand.  Hindquarter he got a quicker but clearly it wasn’t anywhere near solid.  But we worked on that maybe 10 minutes or 15, not more than that.   In the long run, this is the basis for being able to move him where I want him, any direction, and “place” him with precision, but it’s messy looking at the beginning.  Horses will easily rotate on tjeor middle, as if they had a pole like a merry-go-round horse, but that’s not what you want for many situations.  However, a good start (I thought) was made and he stayed calm with it.

Then I tacked him up and led him out to get on him off the mounting rock.   Only…we had problems.  I was sprawled across his back, working my right leg over, when he decided to swing his back end around and stepped onto the rock with his back feet.  I stayed on, if you call lying on his back “on” in any useful sense, and R- got him to go forward off the rock, but the rest of getting my leg all the way over and then right foot into the stirrup and the saddle leveled out again…wasn’t pretty.   I was wearing my old pair of Miller’s riding jeans (precursor to riding tights of today, but NOT with stretch material, but real denim, very comfortable) over a no-longer-fitting pair of long-john bottoms from REI…glad to have them on…and half-chaps over my paddock boots.  They cut the cold wind from knee to boot and the side of the leg near the horse is padded suede…good grip as well as protection from the sliding stirrup leathers.  The outside is just leather (with a thin layer of padding inside) and a zipper.  I got them decades ago at a store near the ice rink where I used to take M- weekly to skate.  Store’s not there anymore.

He was in the mood to MOVE.  It was cold and crisp and with a wind that had an edge to it.    We walked around in the north lot until I thought it was safe to go out in the Near Meadow…he wanted to walk fast and he wanted to decide where to go.  It was obvious this was not the day to try repeating the groundwork lessons from the saddle, so we did a lot of other things,  including leg yield both ways (not a great leg yield, but again, a start.)   Any weather change from humid to dry, or hot to cooler, or calm to windy, tends to excite horses, and all three…dry and bright after yesterday’s humidity and clouds, markedly cooler, with that sharp north wind…means the horse will be sharper and more likely to act up.  Rags even broke from a walk to a jog for a few steps.  I let him–I’d have let him go farther, but he got a harder gust of wind in the face right then.    He thought I should stop before we did–a couple of times, usually when heading into the wind.  There was a certain amount of mouth gaping and excess head swinging and tossing.   I sat still, just keeping him moving (except for the stops) and gave rein cues only when I had to, to keep him aimed where he needed to go.  The ride was relatively short (and getting chillier as the wind picked up) but when combined with the groundwork made about a half hour.  I didn’t try to get off at the portable stall, but did brace on R-‘s shoulder and got my leg all the way over him to get off.

The “win” was going out, staying on when he did the stupid while I mounted, riding most of my plan for the day, and getting off better than I have been where the right leg is concerned.   I hope it’s a little warmer tomorrow, and he’s a little less wired, so we can go for a longer ride out on the land.  But (reminding self) we have no deadlines; there’s no reason to rush.  Just work the program at whatever speed is tolerable for both of us.  He didn’t break a sweat at all today, even with the fussing about he did off and on.


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