Sunday, February 7, 2021

Almost a Week of Rides!

 Well, maybe not a full week, but four out of five days is pretty good.

LE rides way more frequently than I do, as she takes lessons across the way at Inspiration Riding Academy a few days a week. I, however, am 100% a fair weather rider. I did my time riding when the weather was shitty and choose not to any more. 

When I got back from Arizona a week ago, I had to go into quarantine because Jay was sick. That meant I had to work from home. While I generally *despise* working from home, it does have its perks. Namely, the ability to ride in the afternoon if the weather is nice.

January 29

We had a short little ride in the back yard. It had been a couple of weeks since I'd been up on Skeets, so we kept it easy. I'm never really afraid that she'll buck or do something stupid when we've had time off, but sometimes it takes a ride or two to get back in the groove after we've not ridden for a while. It was a nice ride, nothing terribly spectacular about it, but good for getting her moving.

January 31

Since our beginning ride went so well, and Skeeter was being pretty much a rock star, we decided to take our show on the road. The farm road, that is, and ride in the big field to the east of us. Skeeter was feeling pretty good and *trotted* up the road. More than once. Now, as a general rule, she's lazy and won't expend any more effort than necessary, but she was feeling good.

We did have an "oh shit" moment when leaving the property. She veered to the left of the road, right where the irrigation ditch crosses. That wouldn't be a problem, except that there's an old metal grate that sticks up and I was afraid she was going to step down into the ditch and impale us both on that damn grate. I managed to get her stopped and moved over, but I wasn't too pleased. Then she trotted out nicely behind Miss Pearl and I forgave her. We spent a good bit of time in the big field, just walking around. 

Skeets has a big problem with wanting to rush back home, so we spent some time working on slowing down and turning away from home. We did some slow, long zig-zags away from home. In a word, she was amazing. And I don't say that about my mare often.

February 1

No pictures from this ride. I had my hands full with a naughty mare. I should have known things were going too well. She didn't want to be caught, which is rare, then she didn't want to stand tied, which is not rare. Over the last couple of years, she's turned into quite a pull-back. I'd been working around it, but I know she needs to be able to stand hard-tied anywhere, for any length of time, so I came up with a game plan.

She does not pull-back because she's afraid, as most people assume. She pulls back because she doesn't want to stand tied. Now, for the most part, I can just loosely wrap the rope around the hitch rail and fake tie her, and she stays where she's supposed to. Except when she doesn't. She's pulled back when hard tied and gotten away only a couple of times, but that was enough for her to think if she pulls back, she's going to get away. In the vein of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard, I came up with a game plan. Every time she starts to pull back, she gets put to work: backing, quick circles, yielding her hind end. This requires me to only tie her loosely (for now), so I can get to the lead rope before she pulls it too tight to release. Even using a quick-release knot, the girl can throw her head up and pull back fast enough to make a quick release a no-release knot.

(I know people will tell me to let her stand hard tied and fight until she realizes she'll not get loose. Except that doesn't work with her. I watched her pull back and fight for almost an hour when tied to a trailer once. Another time, she managed to get herself bound up tighter and bloody her nose. She's got a stubborn streak a mile wide. If I hard tie her and allow her to fight it out, she's one who will end up hurting herself.)

Anyway, I had this grand plan to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. The hitch rail is her resting spot. Man, that worked so well! I only had to correct her twice, then she stood like a mannequin while getting groomed and saddled. I mentally patted myself on the back.

Once we were both on the same page, we had a lovely ride. A bit shorter than we'd hoped because we had to do more on the ground than usual, but it was still a win.

February 2

Ride four. Man, I could get used to this riding frequently thing. Except, between weather and work, it's not always easy.

I thought we'd had a break-through with tying the day before, but in true Skeeter fashion, she had to push it to see what she could get away with. She did lots and lots of work before standing nicely at the rail to be groomed and saddled. If nothing else, she's going to build some really nice butt muscles from all of the quick backing she's having to do.

Again, we had an issue with her gravitating toward the death grate by the irrigation ditch, but we got past it without impalement. The mares took turns being good and less-good. If Miss Pearl was acting up, Skeets was being an angel. If Skeeter was acting up, Miss Pearl was being an angel. Those two definitely keep us on our toes.

I wouldn't call Skeeter barn sour, but she does like to find second gear on the way home. In the past, it had turned into a fight, where I felt like I was ripping her bottom jaw off. (Figuratively speaking, not literally.) LE suggested that I slow her down and then release the reins rather than getting into a fight with her. Perfect freaking solution, wish I'd've thought of that! Turns out, we get along much better if I just remind her to walk and not fight.

Because I don't want her thinking that the ride is over when we get back home, I continued to ride around the back yard. Little missy took exception to that and decided to have a little temper tantrum. We were trotting in what was supposed to be a circle (it was round-ish) and I felt her think 'I'll show Mom!' just before she attempted to break into a lope. Problem is, she's not athletic. Not even a little bit. While she thought she'd break into a lope as part of her temper tantrum, she forgot to tell her feet what to do. The mind was willing, but the body said, 'huh?'. What should have been an awkward at best trot-to-canter transition ended up being, hell, I don't know, stumbling and trying to stay upright. I blew my right stirrup, but managed to stay on and get her pulled to a stop. I couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Her derp ears went straight out to the sides and she had the good grace to look embarrassed while LE and I laughed our butts off. I'm so sad we didn't get it on video, because I know how silly it felt. I can only imagine how it looked.

I made her walk a couple of more laps around the backyard before calling it a day.

Sadly, we haven't had a chance to ride since then, but I'm looking forward to more riding time. In fact, I have big plans for us this year.


Shirley said...

Oh my she really is a character! She'll keep you on your toes!

GunDiva said...

@Shirley, she does keep me on my toes! I do love that mare, though Lord knows she tries me :)

Linda said...

Wow! You’re brave. It sounds like she has good and then more challenging days. BG was my tough one standing tied. Like Skeeter, she wasn’t scared when she pulled back, she was just not wanting to stand tied, but then she would feel the pull on the rope and freak herself out. A couple of times she threw herself over. I was worried she would break her neck. So, I stopped tying her hard for a few years. Eventually, I invested in blocker tie rings and I began by using them at level 1, slowly moving to 2 & 3. She now stands tied nicely