I’ve ridden twice since my last post, slowly starting to get back into the groove of things and getting more comfortable on the back of a horse again. I wasn’t sure how the time off would effect me, knowing how bad my anxiety tends to get when it comes to getting in a saddle, and not knowing how Red would act after being off for so long. I won’t lie, the first real ride back was interesting because he was so excited. Other than a few crowhops, he was good and had a nice work ethic. This has been the theme of our rides lately. He has been very willing to work. He even seems to brighten up at the sight of his bridle, as weird as that sounds, and puts his head right in. I rode him on Saturday, after a particularly bad day. I tacked up very quickly, spur of the moment, and took him out to the field. I needed to break out of the arena and I needed to ride away from my problems. He was great, very barn sour, but he’s been that way since he’s been off of work so I expected that, especially considering that getting barn sour is very Red anyways. We rode in the field until we started hearing coyote pups from somewhere and he started getting very antsy, then I let him trot back down the path and we went into the arena for a few minutes to work on a couple of things. I left the gate of the arena open to test him a bit and see how good I could get him to work with the temptation of the gate being right there and opened up. Surprisingly, he did okay after the first couple of minutes where he was basically just very heavy and dull when I asked him to trot on in a circle and we went in the direction of the gate. He tried leaning heavily on me so we went every so slightly towards the gate and I had to correct that a few times but once he learned that I wasn’t going to let him go out, he settled into a nice rhythm. We’re really working on getting more supple going left. He’s better with that direction at the canter but it’s tough for him to keep the trot going during tighter left turns.
After about 10 minutes of work in there, I made him work a bit right in front of the gate to get him over the sourness, and I also worked on getting him a bit lighter with turns. Gracie, our sorrel mare, is very light mouthed and will literally turn on her butt with very light pressure. Red was at that point a few months ago before the abscess, but now he’s a bit dull. The shanks on his old hack help because there’s a bit more pressure. He didn’t do great with it during this ride but we started to make progress regardless.
We also rode out to the donkey, who is considerably tamer. This was her first time seeing me riding and she seemed very confused, haha. Red was interested for 5 seconds before he got bored with her.
I rode again yesterday, this time dedicating the ride to work in the arena. I wanted to see how he felt after riding the day before, basically to see how his fitness is. He was very gate sour again, started his little head toss anytime I asked him to go away from the gate but towards the gate, he was great, haha. A sure way to find out if he’s tossing his head out of discomfort or sourness- I give him a very loose rein and see how he does. If he trots on his own towards the gate, he’s fine, if he just stops and/or continues the tossing, something is up, lol. Yesterday was definitely a case of sourness.
We worked on the turns again, getting him to turn on his haunches at a complete stop, and he did WAY better yesterday than the day before. Very impressed with how he turned on such a loose rein. We also did some trot work, he did good with the trot circles and I made them a bit smaller to push him a bit more and to work on his sharper turns, and he did quite well with that. Learning how much leg pressure he needs to have in order to keep the pace going.
I’m giving him the day off today and maybe riding Gracie and trying her in the bosal.