February 21, 2010
Spring is going to be upon us soon, and I can't wait!! In fact, the weather was so nice today I decided to get a head start on some riding. I decided to take Nova down to the arena for a romp and hopefully some riding.
He walked down nice and calm (as in, he wasn't trying to outwalk me), which was a hopeful sign. I turned him loose once we were there and when I 'shoo'd him away he trotted ten steps, then dropped and had a nice roll, got up and walked back to me. Well, so much for running and bucking. I bridled him, lined him up with the fence, and hopped on. The snow is still pretty deep, so I found a spot in the middle and started on a circle. He was listening pretty well, though I think he found plowing through the snow on a circle kind of boring. After going both directions at the walk, I asked him to pick up a trot - it went okay. Kinda bouncy because he wanted to go fast, and had to pick his feet up, but he listened relatively well and we went both ways. So, feeling brave and figuring that landing in the snow wouldn't hurt much if something happened, I decided to canter. We went to the left first, and he was very good! That's his good lead, so he picked it up very nicely and we went around the circle a couple times. Again, not the easiest canter because of the snow (even though we did have the circle beat in pretty well), but he listened well and I didn't fall off!! He got lots of pets and a cookie for being so good. Then, pushing my luck, I decided to try and go right. It took probably almost a handful of tries (where I'd get myself organized and ask, and he'd pick up the left for about a stride, then drop back down on his own - like he knew it was wrong) - but in the end he did give me my right lead, and we did a couple circles!! I was sooooooo happy!! Not too shabby for having not been ridden since November!
Of course though, I had to push my luck and ride him home. He was so calm and great in the arena I didn't think there'd be much of a problem. Boy... I was wrong. Once I got back on from locking the arena gate, he seemed to loose his ever-lovin' mind. Tried to take off a bit through the snow back to the road, got to the road and he got himself into such a tizzy. He was wanting to jig instead of walk, and while I was calm and trying to nicely ask him to come down to a walk he got himself worked up enough to the point where he's jigging in one place, throwing his head up and trying to do a mini rear (I did not have contact on the reins at all through this). If I'd had a saddle it wouldn't have been an issue, but being bareback and having some self-preservation, I got him to stand and bailed off. Walked his excited butt home, tied him up, went to clean the snot off my glasses, then came back out and after a few moments decided to saddle him up and go back to the arena and ride home again.
My mom and our friend returned home from tobogganing and said they wanted to go for a bareback ride just as I finished tacking up. I decided to head back to the arena and would meet them on my way back. Nova walked nicely (albeit slowly) down to the arena, just like a good pony. We paused by the arena fence, then turned back and headed home. He wasn't quite as good as I was hoping, but he wasn't as bad as before - and with the saddle I knew I could deal with his antics.
We made it home just in time to meet Mom and Julie coming down the driveway. We decided to head out down the escape road, through the subdivision, down the range road and back through the new road that comes out at what used to be the dead end by our house (basically a loop). When we all started off again he lost his mind and we did some very tight circles with some thumping to get the point across that even thinking about rearing is a BIG NO! Once we got onto the escape road I let him trot ahead a bit to settle him down, and that seemed to do the trick as he seemed to calm down. Even when Mom and Julie caught up with us and would even pass, he was much better behaved. In fact, I was happy with how he was for the rest of the ride, as even when Julie on Skye got ahead of us by a ways he stayed relaxed and calm (which is good, because he doesn't go out for rides with Skye regularly). We ended the ride on a good note, and I was back to loving him again and not threatening to sell him for dogfood.
All in all, I can't completely blame the young horse who hadn't been ridden in almost four months for his behaviour. But I've already warned him that his year is bootcamp year for us - no more getting to use the 'he's a baby' excuse for things. (Example, we're going to deal with his fear of cars once the snow is gone, he won't be able to get away with having a hissy fit because he's second or last horse in line, nor can he get so upset when someone walks too far ahead out of his bubble, and probably a few other things that will come up.)
I am looking forward to starting lessons again and getting him going, as this should be a big year for us! Now, just to get an english saddle that fits him... Gotta find someone to buy the one I have.