Due to the insanity that is the weekend (had an appointment early Saturday, went to a horse auction, spent literally the whole rest of the day working on the farm, church sunday, rest of the day spent working on the farm, monday in it’s entirety spent working on the farm other than a quick Sonic run for a cherry limeaid…) I got no riding in. I was happy to see Tuesday arrive, because I have more time in the morning to ride, and a bit more time in the evening, usually. We’ve gotten one big corner of the hayfield fenced – posts in, fencing is up. Hoping we’ll be done by the end of this month, it’s a huge field. I finally got a few minutes yesterday evening and decided to hop on – I had a weird urge to just ride him around the pastures and completely ignore the arena. It had been a long weekend, lots of stressful things going on, and I didn’t really feel up to arena work, and wanted to do more than just jog around the arena aimlessly. But I hadn’t ridden in a pasture by ourselves since..since a very bad ride, and the front pasture makes me nervous because that is where all of the bad accidents have happened. Red’s bucks, Red’s bolts, mom’s accident with Zippy. I had ridden him in that area only to get to the gate the weekend before last, in the bosal. That was the ride where he was hot and hyper, and he was pretty rough just going to the gate. All of his issues have gone away with more work, and his old hack, so I figured he may be okay, but I also hadn’t ridden him since Friday, I think it was, so I was nervous. But still, tacked him up after covering the poor guy in fly spray and swat (and realized I was procrastinating when I spent so long grooming him..whoops.) and I hopped on.
He stood for me to mount, which has been a bit of a struggle lately, and that encouraged me a little. No trying to bolt forward. I made him stand for a few minutes and then let him walk on. No fighting me to get into his stall or to Gracie, who was in her stall, no bolting to the bottom of the pasture or to get to the barn, which is normal for him.
We walked in big circles, basically. Went all the way to the gate, then walked up. He normally wants to push into a trot up that hill, and speed up until he’s just rushing to the barn, so this time I made sure he knew that I wanted a walk, and nothing else. My reins were a bit tighter than I normally ride in, a sure sign of my nerves, but I realized after that first lap that really, all he needed was me to get out of his way. He wasn’t going to run off.
Weirdly enough, it kind of felt like I was riding my old horse, the one I rode around in fields everywhere at the old barn.
He was happy, relaxed, easy going. Don’t mistake his slowness for just lack of energy from heat or kicking at flies, because the moment I added a little leg, he was definitely ready to go faster. But he was holding back for me, regardless of that being from his recent workload, the old hack, or just me getting rid of some of the nerves and that making him chill out, too, I was happy. After the first lap around, I got a burst of bravery and let him trot up the slight hills in the pasture. He did so, with a low head and perked ears, and stopped on a dime or transitioned back into a walk the second I asked him to.
I’ve always been a little more easy going on rides like this – or, used to be. I used to let him wander around himself, run up into the woods, go into weird places, run in the hayfields, let him snack around and enjoy himself, but lately, my rides in the pasture have been stiff and just..not fun for either of us. So in this ride, other than making sure he was good, I had very few rules. I let him snack around on some higher pieces of grass, as long as he moved away from it when I told him to, which he did. I even let him trot up the biggest hill there, which he loves to run up, but I’m normally pretty afraid to go up because it can be difficult to go down. (horse likes to run down, I do not like running down hills, lol.) But he didn’t run down, he let me take him the easy way and went as slow as possible, and so we went back up a few times.
I let him trot more on our third lap, just making sure it was away from the barn. And he went around perfectly. Mom warned me that she was bringing Stormie up to be hosed down, so I walked him to the driveway area so he could see the water and see Stormie and not be taken by surprise by the sudden water noise and when he noticed Stormie, and he was fine, even walked up pretty close to the water.
Not much to report on the ride, really. I guess you could count the hills as some hill work, and we got some nice, relaxed trot in, so I guess we did some trot work. It’s hard seeing anything we did as work, because it just felt like a fun ride. Nothing major was accomplished as far as riding or him, but I did face fear #2 and lived to tell the tale. Riding in big open spaces is a major thing for me – something I used to do, and love, but the fear has ruined that for me. And I’m ready to take it back, now, take back riding how I love to ride.
I’m ready to take my love for this horse back, and get rid of my fears. Ready to enjoy my horse again without fears destroying it, nerves holding me back. I’m done taking steps backwards, and I’m ready to start having fun on horses again.
I feel like I took a major step forward, as short and sweet as this ride was, and I refuse to take any steps back.