I forgot to write about Reason’s fourth and fifth ride. Both of which were successes!
Ride 4, was to be deemed the first time he was to wear the Dressage saddle. An official tack up and ride out. It just so happened that the conditions to take another, small but good step, in the right direction, was not ideal. It was a cold and dreary day. It had rained the day before and I believe earlier. I arrived late and was tacking up while the sun went down.
In my previous observations, the night is not the best time to ride. Sure, the arena is scary for some horses when it’s night. There are shadows and riders are usually more uneasy due to the noises in the distance, sometimes the horses in the fields below that suddenly (to the eye that can’t see them in the darkness) break into mad gallops across the field. It’s not the most ideal time to ride if you or your horse are not used to it. Reason is less concerned about the obvious, even the horses when they gallop in the distance, but he expresses his opinion that the food waiting in the barn or in his paddock, is way more appealing. This makes me want to work him at night, so we can establish that riding at night is good and food can actually wait. Once I can jump-start his work ethic with things that are actually fun and challenging, I think we can achieve that. But for now, riding at night isn’t the best thing.
I tested the buttons before mounting, along with Reason’s new learning’s of the very beginnings of the Spanish walk. (He’s very smart and sensitive and this is coming fast. Passage is in his very near future hehe…). All was good and I thought that it was time to mount. Mounting didn’t come easy, unfortunately. The work with the mounting block needs to be finished with more solo work. He stands quiet and willing now but only if I have a handler. I thought for a second about why he didn’t want to stand still. Maybe he’s trying to tell me something? Yes, he was. It was him saying, “food isn’t here, lets leave, no riding.” I repeatedly told him “No,” and the only way I knew how to do this was treat him when he stood at the mounting block and move his feet any which way when he didn’t want to be there. It worked, because in some 5 minutes, I was able to mount up on my still and willing horse.
Reason still protested here and there about wanting to go back to the barn. He was willing to walk us both back up there. But I made him keep moving along, practicing halting and leg cues as usual. Once as we were heading away from the arena exit, he so wanted to use, he hopped up and tossed his head in opposition. Although I had no clear indication, besides his obvious but kind way of telling me he wanted to go eat, I didn’t feel unsafe or worried. I’m not listening to his ideas and in a last ditch effort, he tried to explain that he wanted to leave. That was the only time he offered that reaction. But the whole ride, I felt like he was in and out. I took it for what it was, a ride with repetition of the things learned the last ride, but no real discussion or real communication going on. It was good for what it was and that’s good to me!
Ride #5 was better and another breakthrough was made.
I tacked up again, this time during the later afternoon. Everything was good. It was a little crisp outside and Reason appeared a little fresh-y, not bad, but enough so that I wondered slightly what kind of horse I would encounter. He saw the cows again in the pasture that can be seen from the arena and looked on with his head high in the sky. But, and this is what was good, much quicker than last time, Reason was OK with it and observed without appearing worried, more intrigued than anything. I don’t think he’s going to be the kind of horse that will be the type that spooks at the same boulder on the trail every time, despite going past it a million times.
I mounted on a horse that was happy to be there. My dad and his friend, who likes horses, were there as I just had gotten up. I walked Reason around, practicing the brakes, steering and even some lateral flexion. Then we stopped at the rail so Reason, who was so into socializing with the human spectators and desperately wanted to go see them, eagerly smelled and visited with his new found friend.
We got walking again, but Reason kept wanting to go back to my Dad’s friend.
I was so proud… I’ve been toying with asking Reason to back up under saddle, which he knows well on the ground and is quickly understanding the verbal cue “back,” and he did it!! Without hesitation and as if he’d done it a million times before, he stood staring and wanted to visit and graciously backed up for me! Ok, that was a successful ride for me!
As my dad and his friend left, about 5-10 minutes later, Reason looked on like a sad little kid watching his friend from the back seat of his parents car, heading into the distance, another play-date comes to an end. It was the cutest thing! Even as they were up above the arena, walking back to the truck, Reason kept looking on.
We walked a little more, Reason followed my mom on foot. And then, for the first real time, I asked for a very baby, very simple, leg yield. I got it! It wasn’t much, but the right reaction was there. That was the end of the ride. I couldn’t be more happier.’
Here’s to #6!