Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Arena #26 - Staying put

I was supposed to meet this week's boarders at the barn around midday anyway, so I tacked up and rode while I was waiting. Another perfectly gorgeous day here on the island :)

We warmed up and spent some time with the cones again. Staying even in my stirrups and on my seat took much less effort today (success!). Mostly - I was reminded of how light it is possible to be with my rein aids... it's the difference between the amount of contact in each rein, not strength of the aids. Another thing I need to remember is not to throw away the contact entirely when I am opening one or the other rein. When I got it right, we were turning both directions smoothly and flowing around the cones. I'm constantly challenged by how subtle good riding must be.

Now, for the exciting part :) Val was pretty looky on the way out to the mounting block... and at the far end of the ring, and on the left long side... and in the cones... admittedly it was very windy and the weather has cooled off considerably.  Can you tell where I'm going with this?

Sure enough I ended up riding out two spooks (!) The first one was fairly minor. I put it out of my mind and continued working. The second one was major... sudden dropped shoulder and head with a LEAP to the left, complete with snorting and flared nostrils. Not only did I stay on, I stayed in the center of my saddle and didn't even snatch Val in the mouth.

At this point my legs felt like jelly, but I thought I'd better ride a little more before we quit - not wanting to associate spooking with the end of working, so we walked around on a loose rein for a few more minutes.

This is where riding by myself gets scary. I always carry my cell in my pocket, and I always wear a helmet, but today reminded me that as much as I love my horse and riding, unexpected things can happen.

The best I can do is continue to improve my seat and balance, so that when the unexpected does happen,  I will have a better chance of staying on my darling horse. Keeping fit will help me recover quickly should we part ways and I hit the dirt. And Val won't think about what happened today next time we ride, so neither should I :)

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There were presents for Val waiting on the porch when I got back home from the barn. A new tarp for his "porch" area, and a plush new cooler / extra blanket layer. We got green with grey trim, to match his existing blanket collection. It's so cushy and soft.




The cooler I found at Tack of the Day. Thank you to Gingham at Pia's Parade for the tip about this great bargain site :) Check it out!

7 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

Even though you had a few spooky moments the good part is that you stayed on. It is always scary to ride by yourself, I worry about my daughter doing this all the time. No matter how good a rider you are things can happen. You're smart to be prepared and never ride without a helmet. As we head into some cooler windier weather the more you ride Val I think the more he will get used to his surroundings and the distractions won't bother him as much.

I'm sure he will look stunning in his new clothes.

Carol said...

Good riding. If you stayed centered in the saddle and went with the spook instead of being left behind I'd say you have a pretty good seat. I don't know why, but when I'm bareback I seem to be able to do this, but not so much in a saddle. Go figure.

Gingham said...

Yes! so glad you got one! I'm loving P's... it's perfect for strolling to the ring and she looks so darn cozy in it :)

Valentino said...

Arlene-

I think I'm more worried about solo riding than I wanted to admit. I know when I ride at my trainers I am way more confident.

Here, I always let my Dad know I'm going up to ride and check in when we're finished. Hopefully today will be a confidence builder :)

Valentino said...

Carol-

Luckily I spent most of the ride focusing on keeping my weight even in my stirrups today - that may have helped lol...

I agree about bareback riding... nothing much to block the info coming directly from your horses back to your seat. :)

Valentino said...

Gingham-

Thanks for the tip - I'll be compulsively checking Tack of the Day now... Can't wait to try Val's new clothes on :)

billie said...

Great job riding those spooks! I had a trainer who taught everyone to jump up to 2 feet because her feeling was that if you can balance over that level of jump, you can generally ride any spook or buck a "normal" horse might insert into a ride.

I think too if you have a fairly athletic horse the spooks are smoother and not so herky-jerky - which helps a lot!

Glad to hear you take extra caution when riding alone. My saving grace is that our neighbors can see my arena from their back yard, which they work in regularly, so it gives me a bit of a safety net.

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