Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm Baaaack -- I'm Back in the Saddle Again!


I haven't ridden since September. In case you can't count too well, that's FIVE months!

But I only worked until 12:45 today, rushed home and had a quick lunch. It was around 35F and sunny with NO wind, which we've had for about a week now, so it was a gorgeous day. I headed out to see my girl, Lakota. I did not, unfortunately, have my camera with me.

The roundpen is muddy, with deep holes from frost heaves with the constant freeze/thaw thing that has been going on for about 2 weeks. The paddock didn't look too bad though, with hooves pounding them all down. I decided to just toss on the Bareback Pad and Bitless and head into the lower grassy section of the paddock. I figured its been so long since we've doing anything, I thought it would be a good idea to stay in the paddock, plus there was the whole mud issue.

I walked that area first looking for holes, and it was a bit squishy down on the bottom half, but not bad on the top half, but of course its the side of a hill, with stumps, and rocks, and ledge. I picked up all the downed brush, and the girls apparently knew what I had in mind, because they were all on high alert (GRASS!!!!). April started racing along the fenceline with her nose on the ground looking for a way through. Its only electric, and it was off, not a good combo with a mini.

I brushed Lakota, which she of course enjoyed, but then she side stepped away when I went to put the bareback pad on. I gave her another scritch, and then she was fine. It took us a little bit to put the Bitless Bridle on, she's always been funny about headgear, and if we dont' work on it consistently, she reverts. But I only waited for less than 5 minutes for her to decide to put her nose in, and of course she got a treat after, so all was OK in her world.

We headed down to the grassy area, and as I gathered the electric fence handles in my left hand, with Lakota's reins in my right, sure enough they all came flying over. I managed to keep two out, but the mini eluded me (sneaky little shit that she is) she squeezed right through.

That was enough to get Lakota upset -- the little brat was racing around snatching at tall grass, Lakot awas trying to snatch at grass at the same time she was spooking, at the same time I was trying to reattach the gate handles. So Lakota and I walked back and forth about a half dozen times, feeling the footing, looking for holes, and trying to catch the little yellow shithead. It didn't work, and I gave up, figuring I probably wouldn't ride long enough for her to founder, anyway.

I lead Lakota up to a rock, that was about literally 3 inches wide and 6 inches long, but tall sticking out of the ground. She lined right up like a good girl, she'll line up to just about anything now. And then she stands quietly while I zipper my back, turn it to the side, and try to figure out how far I have to jump to get on her. Admittedly, it does take awhile, she's so patient. So I ungracefully lept -- and slammed into her side with a big - huh! Ooops, sorry girl. The next time I managed to get more air and belly over so I could scramble up.

So Lakota and I walked back and forth for about half hour, while the little yellow demon ran around snatching as much dead grass as she could stuff in her little face. Lakota did quite well considering we have mostly only ridden in the roundpen, where it is relatively flat (its all relative around here, nothing is flat, not even the house, anything dropped that is round all ends up in one corner of the house). She really wasn't a fan of carrying me through the mud, she doesnt' like to slip at all with me on board, which is OK by me. So we used the higher side, but I was worried about a big sinkhole over Leroy's grave which I had filled in, but I didn't trust it. Lakota kept wanting to go higher and higher away from the mud. She did mind my leg mostly when I asked her to yield around the filled-in sinkhole. She got a little upset a couple of times, onced when she slipped which wasn't so bad, her head just came up a bit and she got a little rushy, but she settled right down again when I said "easy, it's OK" (which seems to be my default not-thinking thing to say when they get nervous). The other time she got upset, spooked and squirted forward is when that little yellow demon squeezed between us and a 4 foot high ledge outcropping, which her fat gut caught my boot and twisted my foot around backwards, likely goosing poor Lakota in the ribs. We did OK though, she setled right back down and I did not lose my seat, despite being only on the Bareback Pad, and on the side of a somewhat slick hill with tons of rocks.

We rode that for about a half hour, interspersed with a lot of standing and relaxing/doing nothing. It seems that now when my phone rings (actually it was my school bus alarm, which goes off twicde at 15 minute intervals) she stops and drops her head about a foot, cocks a leg, sighs and closes her eyes. lol!

The footing was getting a little slick from being churned up by you-know-who, so I thought about it a bit and decided to ride in the upper dirt area where the girls are fed daily (not the top "upper paddock", up the steeeep hill). So I dismounted, brought Lakota out, and remounted without incident. She was a little confused "now what?". I just asked her to walk-on, which she did, which is great, because forward can be a little sticky sometimes. The first time by the gate to the steeeep hill "upper paddock", which is where we rode the last time, only once, way back in September, she stopped and looked up the hill. I asked for foreward again (straight), and she wanted to veer up the hill. There was no way I could sit on her, over that horrible rubble which is like something out of those Tevis photos you see, up that steep hill, in a bareback pad on a fat out of shape mare (not to mention my condition!).

We avoided that, and did a couple of laps. And on the way by Jen (as April continued to gnosh) Jen flattened her ears, threatened to kick and made a really nasty snaky face. Lakota is Alpha Mare, but it seems that when I'm riding, Jen gets nasty toward her. I really have no idea why, but this is not the first time she did this. I hollered at Jen, which upset Lakota, but she did OK (she hates it when I yell at the other horses, although two of them really tend to deserve it often, Jen and Whinney). We circled around, and Jen had come around the barn and was blocking out path, making nasty faces at Lakota! She was not listening to me telling her to get lost, and Lakota was being SO good. She knows that we don't play horsey games when the humans are nearby, all of them know that except Jen has been having a hard time understanding that rule.

So I finally decided to dismount, and put Jen in the stall. I remounted, and Jen was tossing a fit, pushing on the door, and pawing it with her front hoof. I was afraid she would do something really stupid, so we did one lap around the paddock, and I dismounted and let that little pita out.

Jen continued to be quite obnoxious for the rest of the afternoon. After catching the little yellow monster with a cookie and some roundpen-type body language/movements, I stood and hung out with Lakota for a bit, which she liked just standing next to me dozing. Jen tossed a fit, and was racing around ,bucking, and zipping by us with April in tow, then back again, being a total pest. Then she came around the back and stood behind me making faces at Lakota (who mostly ignored her aside from a tight face). I backed Jen up a few times as she was getting to be a pushy pest.

I'm not sure if she was jealous, or taking advantage of the alpha, but I'm going to have to come up with a better plan, I guess. I had hoped that Mandy and I would be able to ride together, I don't know. Perhaps Jen just needs more work, (which she hasn't had much of). I do need to work with her, she loves it so much. But then she is a total in your face pest for months, lol!

So, in any event, I'm excited that I finally got to ride again, and really excited that Lakota was so, so good after 5 months off. She really wanted to head up on that hill, and I may do that next time, once I figure out what to do with Jen. I also got all the defrosted manure and frozen, trampled, peed on/pooped on hay scraped up, so its all clean and spring-like, ready for the snow, sleet and freezing rain predicted for tomorrow night :-(

For any of you who are RAC readers, I'm posting this over there too, but a much abbreviated version. They have far more interesting thing sto read than my long-drawn out drivel, but in case you were feeling a bit of deja'vu reading this, that's why ;-)

1 comment:

Funder said...

What a fun afternoon! The worst thing about bareback pads, imo, is the complete lack of stirrups :(

Lakota sounds like such a sweetheart.

Maybe I'll get some Frosted Mini Wheats and go do some clicker stuff with Dixie. I've still never had great luck with precise foot placement with clicker training, but I'm getting better.