Back Home Again

Before I start the “real” post…

Birthday Boy!

Yesterday was my very tolerant and forgiving horse’s 13th birthday! I spent half of the year thinking he was turning 14, then I realized…oh hey, nope. Red turned 13 yesterday and we celebrated with carrots and birthday hats. We put the hat on Stormie as well since her birthday was a few days ago (She also turned 13) but she was spooked by it for the first few minutes and just irritated the other half, so no good photos lol. Red, however, hammed it up and didn’t mind it. I posted a sappy post on Facebook and Instagram, but y’all hear about how great he is all the time (and sometimes how bad he is,rofl.) so I’ll just say that I’m ridiculously blessed to have him and I hope that we get to celebrate every birthday together, preferably for about 20+ more years 😉

“please tell my human to stop”

May 30th was apparently a good day, because 5(?) horses at our old barn Ivy Hills were also celebrating birthdays. They threw a little party so we went by, ate some good food and talked to old friends. I ended up getting talked into hopping on Patches, an Appaloosa that I’ve ridden a few times before we moved the horses home, and went on a trail ride with some of the old riding gang + some new boarders. 🙂

I asked my step-father to get some photos with my camera while I rode off to the trails, he didn’t disappoint. Good job, Jeff! 😉 I edited it to create the silhouette but he definitely got a good shot.

Patches was wonderful as she always is, and I realized how much more confidence I seemed to have on her. I realized that I’m so used to Red and his quirks and bad habits that I’ve started to expect him to do wrong, and while I’m slowly getting more comfortable after my, uh…unplanned dismount awhile back, I’ve definitely lost some confidence. Our arena has been really good for us, but I think it’s time for me to cowgirl up and just let go of my fears and step outside of my comfort zone. Red is a good horse and I had the same chance of getting bucked off of Patches as I did with him – both are good horses, but I don’t know Patches as well and I think that helped me somehow. I didn’t know if I should expect her to be bad, so I just didn’t. I rode her like she was going to be perfect and didn’t give her a chance to be bad, I rode well and was fine..and it hit me that I just need to ride Red like he’s going to be great, and have a “I’m going to kick butt” mindset. I was nervous getting on her but we got going and I was good.

We went to the old fruit and berry patch and it was so weird to be riding back there again, super bittersweet. I miss that place. We did w/t/c and Patches was way, way rougher than I remembered. Red and her used to have the same type of ride, and it threw me off a bit when she got going. Red’s definitely changed as far as his roughness goes.

I miss this pasture. SO flat and amazing for galloping. We took a few laps, haha.

My stirrups were too short but they were stuck in place and no one could fix them, so I rode without them for the majority of the ride. My whole body is aching today and after sitting in agony in the church pew I gave in and took Ibuprofen, rofl. My knees didn’t care for the short stirrups very much, and my butt wasn’t super happy with me not posting. 😉 It was a really good ride.

When we came back around to the barn Patches was being barn sour but I got her going again and she stopped her head slinging, mom looked at me when I got off and said, “Okay, now ride your own horse like you ride her. You would’ve gotten nervous if that was Red.” I told her I was slightly nervous when she started acting up, and she just laughed and said, “You can take control of a big Appaloosa mare, you can control your own horse. All you have to do is ask him to be good and he’s going to listen. Ride like you know how all the time because I know you do.” I needed the pep talk and needed to realize that I can ride issues out. Now I’ve just gotta get back on my big guy after this storm and ride like I know how. 😉

So, if any of y’all have tips or words of wisdom for a ridiculously nervous rider that has zero reason to be nervous…feel free to throw them at me. 😉

Tomorrow I’ll post some of the other photos I got at the barn. 🙂 The farm owner (J) requested that I take a ton of photos…so I took 500, lol.

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5 thoughts on “Back Home Again”

  1. What exactly makes you nervous when you ride Red? Is it going fast, the possibility of falling, him tripping?? There are multiple exercises you can do that will make a world of a difference for generic issues, but at the same time, getting to the root of the problem is key here.

    For one, remember that Red is broke. He isn’t green by any means and deviation from you cues means he is being unreceptive and ignoring you – both negative responses. Don’t be afraid to be firm with him, but fair. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to slap on spurs and carry a crop with you!

    Horses are much like dogs in the sense that they will subtly start to weasel their way into getting what they want. Perhaps you try to mount from the ground and your horse walks off on you…. “Well,” you say, “he USED to stand for me!” There is a time when you have to come to the realization that the horse is giving you signs and had been working his/her way up to being disobedient. Perhaps it started with the horse stepping forward with one hoof…. followed by another…. and another….

    A lot of the time horse’s don’t do things by surprise and are often a mirror of our own feelings. It’s important to expect him to be a level-headed citizen for you and extend that same courtesy to him.

    Here are some exercises that have helped me when I’ve begun to feel anxious on horseback (they are more generic, as I am not sure what your particular worry/issue is).

    1. Breathe. Let yourself inhale and exhale deeply – horses will mirror the amount of tension we hold in our body and if we force ourselves to relax (ie sighing), it’ll relax them.

    2. Have a plan when you ride. There is nothing worse than starting some schooling and ending up fighting with a horse because you’ve decided to change up what you want to do or deciding to do something that may be too difficult for you and the horse. Decide if you want to ride serpentines, circles, squares, through cones, etc and RIDE THEM. Give yourself a goal to attain, but one that you are ABLE to attain. If you amble along and aren’t sure what to do next, you’ll run into problems.

    3. Don’t be afraid to take the “easy” route. This may mean lunging before riding, having someone hold onto the horse before mounting, staying in a small round pen, etc. You’ll only end up making anxiety worse if you try and push yourself before you are ready.

    4. Stretch your legs DOWN and sit in your back pockets. Whenever people get scared or tense, they ball up (fetal position) and become rigid against the horse’s motion. Becoming tense will make your horse’s stride choppier, harder to sit to, and cause your legs to drift upwards instead of being secured in the stirrups. Whenever you feel tense, elongate your leg and “wrap” it around Red’s barrel. Stretch your calves over his belly and sink into the saddle. Let his trot move your hips and carry you.

    Hope some of this helps! Sorry for the wordy post.

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    1. I LOVE wordy comments, haha!
      The weird thing is…I’m not nervous about one thing. I don’t have something in mind that scares me. Red has never reared, he bucked one person once because of a bit pinching his lip and that was YEARS ago when he was very green, I can handle his bunny hops, he doesn’t spook at anything, literally. I’m not really scared of falling off. I think my biggest fear is having something happen to him in this weird way? I’m constantly making sure he’s sound, and riding well. He never trips on anything and is always really solid on the rides. He’s a little fresh right now but nothing I can’t handle. The more tense I get, the more tense he obviously gets. If I see someone ride him before me, it’s like I’m way calmer. Maybe I’m just a total hypochondriac? My mother claims I love him too much and I’m afraid of somehow ruining him, lol.

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      1. Another comment because I reread yours and noticed something. You mentioned a horse walking off when being mounted. Red has recently started doing that, he used to stand perfectly. My mother is constantly nagging me because for whatever reason, I let him get away with things. If he does something bad, I lose my back-bone entirely. It’s like I totally forget that I CAN and SHOULD discipline him. Maybe I’m just way over concerned with feeling like I’m going to discipline him and ruin all of the work I’ve done on our relationship? Like if I discipline or be the boss, I’m going to lose the partnership. If that makes any sense.

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      2. It makes TOTAL sense!
        It’s just like when people let their dog jump up on them *sometimes* when they are wearing “dirty” clothes then act surprised when the dog jumps on them when they are wearing nice clothes. LOL. My MIL is one of those people.

        You can’t let your guard down and you can’t let them get away with the small stuff because it’ll turn into something bigger.

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