Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Ride! (Sort Of)

I haven't talked about it at all, but I'm working with my barn owner's young horse. She's a very sweet young mare, and also very feisty and intelligent. And MAN, can she throw in some athletic bucks! I think that's why my barn owner asked me to put 30 days on her ;)

So I've been methodically figuring out what I'm doing. Before me she'd been saddled and ground-driven twice, and liked to throw in big buck/spin/rear moves on the longe but was otherwise pretty obedient and chill. I decided to take things pretty slow at first, just to make sure I wasn't leaving any holes or rushing a young horse too much.

First of all, this girl LOVES to work. She nickers at me when I walk up to her stall. She actually stands at the tie rail and fusses around until I start tacking her up, at which point she settles down and stands still. Very cute. (Still irritating, but cute.)

We've made a lot of progress. She still doesn't like to canter on the longe, but bucking incidents are down to almost 0, and when she does it's just a little hop because she's mad that I made her canter, not full-blown bronc kicks. She'll back up and stay politely out of my space. She'll walk, trot, and halt almost totally off voice commands. No more humping her back at the girth - the first day all I had to do was pat my hand on her belly and she'd look uncomfortable, and the first time I saddled her she tried to roll with my saddle! She carries a bit, even though I work her off a rope halter or side pull. No need to go to the bit, but she's so darn mouthy I think having something in her mouth helps her focus.

And, most excitingly, I sat on her for the first time last night!! I was the first person on her back! It was a very cool moment. I have been leaning on the saddle for a couple days now and practicing giving to the reins with the sidepull. She couldn't care less about me leaning on the saddle, and she'll do the "one rein stop" move very politely. So last night, with my mom standing nearby, I leaned on the saddle, slid my leg over, and then sat up.

Filly went, "...and your point is?"

She didn't care at all, though she is still so mouthy she wanted to turn around and chew on my toes. We didn't walk at all, but she took a few steps one time when I asked her to bring her head around. I dismounted and remounted a couple times uneventfully, and called it good for the night.

It was very exciting. We definitely still have a lot to work on...now that I've been in the saddle and it only takes about 15 minutes to tack up and longe quietly to confirm obedience, I think I will make a grand return to ground work and iron out some kinks as well as do a lot more ground driving. The mouthiness, while improved, needs to be toned down a lot. And I want to work on her leading, she tends to want to trail along behind.

Anyway. I just wanted to share my triumph with you. I think I'll go read through Mugwump's archives for some baby-training ideas.

McKinna, who has had a pretty light month between finals and winter vacation, is getting kicked back into full-time work today. We're off to a lesson with Leslie, then a Pony Club prep clinic this weekend, a lesson with Devin, our club's schooling show, and another "lesson" with Leslie in the form of a clinic that my club is putting on. Whew! McKinna isn't going to know what hit her! Luckily she's still been in light work, getting ridden a couple times a week and lots of turnout, so I doubt she's lost much fitness if at all. Maybe I'll ask Leslie to take it easy on her tonight...though probably the person who needs an easier lesson is me!

Still thinking about my goals. I'll get back to you on those.

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