My bareback riding escapades have continued. Each ride has been good and positive. Like I said before, no longer does this tension hang in the air. No longer is there a wall, so to speak, up between Reason and I. Wow, all this from a girth and possibly a saddle.. I knew that ill-fitting tack could clearly cause pain and therefore various degrees of reaction, but to experience it and live it, is new to me and now I actually do understand.
On Wednesday (I think), it was a little chilly and windy out. There was some cloud cover, welcoming the following weekend rain. I got on Reason bareback to spend a day out of the arena, exploring the ranch more-so than I’ve ever done on his back. There is a perimeter path around the property and although I’ve hand walked Reason on this path, we’ve never done the whole thing riding. There have been a couple of reasons that the past week was finally the first under saddle day around this path.. Due to Reason’s tendon injury and rehab since last year, I wanted to stay off hills for obvious reasons. The path is not the best footing-wise and has some hilly parts and one nice slope. When I first started bringing Reason back, I hand-walked him up and down the small hills that lead to the arena to start. Then, I began walking him to and from the arena under saddle. Then I took him on the path up that larger hill in hand. The path also has a notoriously spooky section. The path goes up a hill to a bushy area on the left that hides some spooky farm equipment in a large shed, that occasionally people are starting and moving around. The horses can hear but not see it happening. Then, as soon as you past that, you go para ell to the large outdoor round pen and through a grove of tall eucalyptus trees. These trees are almost always moving, making creaky noises. Although the stretch isn’t long, it presents itself as an interesting cumulative of spooky possible experiences.
The day, to some probably wouldn’t had been the best choice for this. But it felt right, so off we went. I took him around without an issue. Reason isn’t used to going around this path much at all, so there were definitive new sights and sounds, including some footing questions. He took it all in stride. I’ve found when we come across an interesting sight, which could possibly be scary, Reason likes to stop, observe and then move on. In his time of observance I am constantly trying to help him remain confident through the experience so to not make it a big deal. Reason is sensible, but he is young and at times hot. He looks for guidance 80% of the time and the situation will escalate if the guidance is not there. If I give him a confident basis, he probably will not worry and we will move on without another thought. Whether its a big issue or not.
Although it’s not a big accomplishment, walking around that path, it’s a great step in the right direction. It felt nice to go through those areas of question along the path and feel like we had a good working understanding. He was listening to me and not worried about the creepy noises or swaying tree tops.
On Friday my mom joined me on an even colder, windier day. The day before the storm was to start. On our way out to mount up, I heard my mom, who was then already mounted on Errika outside the barn, yell out “loose horse!” and I, holding Reason in the isle-way, turned to look out a stall door to the parking-lot, where I briefly saw a galloping horse sweep past in what seemed like a flash. The next thing I knew, the same horse, moments later, was coming up the back of the barn isle-way running towards Reason and I. He had a lost look in his eyes and was in survival mode. In a moment of seconds, Reason stood at my side, wondering just as much as I, what in the world, but remained calm. I stomped my feet and the horse slowed down and quickly slowed in front of us and darted into an open stall. Reason was such a good horse through all of this. Like a foal at my side, he never strayed in any sense of the word. After the horse was calmed in the stall and another boarder came to it’s aid, I took Reason away and we proceeded to mount up. Reason was a little fired up but nothing I knew we couldn’t work through. I’d much rather get on him when he’s fired up because I know I can get his mind working and get him to a calmer more relaxed place from atop his back.
The ride was a little challenging. I knew I had to spend some time just getting Reason’s mind to the place I wanted it to be, because he was a bit “out there.” I wanted a relaxed horse, listening to me. We had a couple opinions from Reason. I couldn’t do anything except just put him through the basic paces and find a quiet but effective way of getting him to want to work with me. Our ride lasted about 45mins. By the end, I was getting a good horse and called it quits on a good note.
Here is a photo from one of our rides last week in the outdoor. It has a downhill slope to it, which is why the gait looks weird. It’s hard for most horses, let alone a young one to balance down it. I do think Reason does a good job at managing though. One of the other things I don’t like, is Reason’s upside down looking neck here.. It’s really not that bad… I DO like this photo because I believe it captures a moment of focus and listening on both our parts.