Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Ride

After yesterday's successful ride but unsuccessful ground work, I decided to stick to what Sham and I know, tacking up and simple rides.

When I went into the pasture Sham came right up to me (he also hung out with me in the pasture after the ride). That was very nice. It feels good when your horse wants to see you. I shooed some of the other horses away and put his halter on with no problem. On the walk to the barn we worked on a little bit of leading control. I brought a small crop with me and gave him a few hearty smacks on the chest when he was getting pushy. It certainly didn't fix the problem, but he did get the message a little bit.

The grooming and tacking up was quite good. I worked on paying attention to what I was doing and not really worrying about Sham. He seems to like that best. In the arena, though, he was quite jittery before I climbed on. I'm not sure why. But he does still have a lot to get used to. Once up there I felt OK. We walked around in circles. He explored some of the corners of the arena and a few of the mud piles. Occasionally he'd step into a trot. I'd yank him back down. I say yank because I did have to pull quite a bit to rein him in. In reality it was not a big yank, but I'm used to riding super sensitive horses, not cow roping, ranch horses.

After a couple minutes of walking Sham got rather keyed up. Some of the horses in the pasture just outside the arena were running pretty hard. Sham didn't like that. I think he wanted to be out there, or perhaps at least be able to see them. So he picked up some fast trots and even a lope once. He got so worked up I could feel his huge heart pumping right next to my leg. I'm not sure if this is a big deal or not, but I don't have any recollection of feeling that before.

Needless to say this all made me a tad uneasy, and I was ready to call it a ride. Robin said I would be better off riding him until he calmed down. So I went back to thinking about me and making Sham do what I wanted him to do. I sat up straight, I smiled, I practiced having soft eyes, I put my heels down, and we trotted lots of circles and figure eights. Sham has a super nice trot, and he is able to turn very quick and tight 180s. This worked really well to calm him down. The horses continued to gallop along outside, but Sham wasn't paying as much attention to them.

All told it was a rather brief 25 minute ride. But we went through a lot. Sham is definitely relaxed and also a lot of horse. Robin occasionally questions if he is too much. But then he comes around and we know he's still adjusting. I never seem to question Sham, I just question my own abilities. I usually keep track of things like hours on the bike or miles of skiing done. This year I'm logging my hours on horseback. I've only got about 40 minutes on Sham and 2 hours 35 minutes total. I'm looking forward to watching those numbers climb.

After my ride I snapped a few photos of Robin riding Steen. In the middle Steen had a big spook when another horse tried to sneak into the barn under a closing garage door. Everyone was OK in the end. And all in all, Steen was back to being the dream horse he often is.

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