On Dec 22, I finally had enough time to spend hours with Skeeter. It was a balmy 45* and no wind, so off we went to work.
I wasn't rushed at all, so I tacked her up and we spent time working on the longe line. When I was sure she had gotten her "woohoos" out (as Jessica calls them), I bitted her up and changed from the longe line to my lead line and worked on some small circles. Since she hates flexing to the right, we worked on some turn-arounds in which I loop the lead rope from her halter, behind her butt, and pull from the opposite side. If I want her to turn to the right, the lead goes along her right side, and behind her butt. I stand on her left and pull on the end of the lead rope. This is an exercise Jessica has done with her, but it had been a while, so it took her a few seconds to remember how to relieve the pressure. When I got a couple of good, soft turn-around in both directions, I decided it was time to climb up.
I set out four small, orange cones in what was supposed to be a square, but was more a trapezoid, as "targets". I get bored just wandering around, so I thought that if I had the cones out I'd be able to amuse myself and keep her engaged as well.
I couldn't find the stump I normally use to mount up with - it seems to have disappeared in the snow - so off to the trailer we went. It took a bit to get her lined up with the trailer's running board, but we managed and I finally stopped futzing around and mounted up. I don't know why I always get a sudden attack of the butterflies before I step up, but I do. She's never once - ever - given me anything to worry about, not even our very first sit, but I still have to dig deep as I swing my leg over. Once my butt hits the saddle, though, the butterflies disappear, because my body knows what it's doing. Muscle memory, at least in my seat, takes over.
Skeeter willingly went over to the cones and we started trying to ride patterns through/around them. She's still so very resistant to the right - I'm certain she's not in pain or has any physical issues, she just hates it. Mare. We made some very ugly turns around the cones in both directions and then she stopped, pointing southeast. It took me a second to figure out what had her attention, but soon enough it became clear that there was a little plane headed our way. I let her stand there and watch it, rubbing her neck and telling her it was okay. We watch the plane get closer and closer and Skeeter was fine, fine, fine until it passed right over us and suddenly she was not fine.
Luckily, her "spook" amounted to a bit of quick-feet and a mini-rear before she settled down. As soon as the plane passed, she was fine again and then I realized that my cell phone was vibrating in my pocket. When we ride in the mountains, we don't have cell service, so I've never actually talked on the phone while one my horse. At first, I thought about ignoring it, but it was Mom, so I took it as a teachable moment and answered. Skeeter did just fine standing there while I talked to Mom for a few minutes, but in the short period of time I talked to Mom, Skeets got "stuck". Her feet grew roots and she was going nowhere.
It always feels like forever when you're kicking a stuck horse's sides, but once you start the cue you can't stop it until you get the correct result. Let's just say I got a lot of flutter kicks in that day.
We worked on some more ugly circles and flexing before I felt like we had to leave the backyard. I was getting bored, even with the cones, and at some point it needed to be done. Skeeter was not perfect, but she was listening well, and by God we were going on the farm road.
I quickly texted L.E. to let her know we were headed up the road for a bit and we'd be back shortly.
I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of freedom once we stepped foot off the property and onto the farm road. I was elated and started to feel like a real rider again. Skeeter busted through the snow nicely and managed to keep her feet even when we slipped a touch in the mud.
We didn't get far, because once she realized we were headed away from home she started getting really up. Not in a bad, "I'm afraid to be away from home way", but in a "woohoo, I'm free!" way. Part of me wanted to just go with it and ride until she was tired, but another part of me (probably the smarter (or more cowardly) part) decided we'd gone far enough. She gave me a nice two-reined stop (nicer than any stop I'd ever gotten from Queen Estes), and turned nicely to the right to head back home. We walked calmly back the 100 yards or so and saw L.E. watching us, so I decided to by-pass the trailer and walk on to talk to L.E.
|Just crossing back over the property line.|
We talked for a few minutes and then I got down. Skeeter always groans when I dismount. I know I'm overweight, but she doesn't have to point it out at every ride!
Despite the two spooks, we had a good ride. I had a full week off of work, and thought I was going to get to work with her every day, but that didn't happen. Holidays and procrastination, don'tcha know. Now the weather has gone from cold to frigid and won't warm up again for a few days. Looks like Friday or Saturday will be the next time I'll have a chance to take her out.
|She really is a good girl who tries hard.|