Sunday, February 22, 2009

Training breakthrough!

Well, it's been a quiet week. I've been bringing home "trial" saddles from AS, and they have NOT been fitting, grrr! I actually rode in Nicole's BdH wide tree last week, and by the end of the ride, it was sitting ON Tiki man's withers. So, not as good as I'd hoped. Plan to get a regular tree to try from Dover, I think I've exhausted everything in my price range at AS. Apparently, he had a little 'incident' yesterday that involved a minor freak out and a few runs around the pasture, but all seemed fine, yikes.

Anyway, Nicole and I planned to take our ponies out alone. Yep, alone. We went across the street and into the woods. We went up the 'briar hill' to the power line right of way, then walked up, up, up! Star, who was leading, decided to FREAK at a big, scary, moss covered ... rock. I mean, poor mare FREAKED at this rock. I kept a steadying hand on Tiki's neck, and he understandably started to stare and shake as he watched his trail buddy buck, spin, and snort. Once Star stopped, I offered up Tiki's bravery at SEEING strange things, and walked forward, past the rock. So long as he doesn't have to step in/over anything freaky, and can't HEAR the low, crazy noises, he's fine. So, we successfully made it past the big, scary rock, then made our way into the woods where we promptly lost our trail. :) Wandered around, and finally found SOME trail. Got to the big pond, where our training breakthrough occured. Previously on earlier trail rides, we had been unsuccessful at getting too close to the pond. Tiki's training 'issue' is that no amount of leg, stick, hand, voice, etc. will get him to move an INCH if he decides not to. He can imitate a statue better than any horse I have ever met in my life. Sooo, that's how most of our pond adventures have occured. He stands like a statue with me looking like a novice idiot until everyone else gets bored and we just move on. Let me tell you, an ottb is GREAT for your equestrienne self-esteem.;) Anyway, Star walked right in and began pawing and playing, and we did our best impression of me riding a statue. This time, though, I didn't give up. I dug in my heels, hollered, slapped with my hand, nudged with my seat, etc. Until he took a step. Then I stopped and PRAISED, patted, encouraged, etc. Before I knew it, he was sniffing the water. I encouraged and patted and squeezed with my HEELS, pretending like I had on spurs. Star is meanwhile splashing, drinking, and playing. Tiki looked at her beautiful sleek, shiny Morgan hindquarters and ... walked all the way IN! He drank, shook, whuffled, walked in to about his knees, then resumed his statue pose. His ears were flicking back and forth, his eyes were like, "What have I DONE???", and finally he just drank. Then walked and drank, then walked towards Star and drank again. And then we just walked out and continued on the trail like it was just no. big. deal. But let me assure you, it WAS a big. deal. I was so proud, and patted him and praised him for about another minute and a half as we hit the trail edging the pond.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. Both our horses stepped in some pretty big holes, which SCARES me. We never got lost, and neither of the horses spooked (even when we came upon a camp like setting with a tent and a huge, waving silver tarp!). Tiki crossed over a big, wide puddle without a single hesitation, or a massive leap and scramble. He just walked through, continuing his new attitude of no. big. deal. I wish I'd had more time. We galloped through a big pasture, and I felt what it's like to ride a race horse. Once he caught up with the galloping Star, he cut hard to the right and kicked his heels up a little. I had to stop by sitting back and hauling him around in a circle (remember, our bit is little more than a pacifier in his mouth!). I shuddered a little, because I let him get too out of control and I almost came close to coming off (does that make sense? I didn't really feel like I WAS going to fall, but I felt like I COULD have come off, weird!). Just served as a good reminder to always be careful and make sure there's enough room to gallop in a straight line, and be more aware that a galloping horse can still spook and cut. It will really hurt to come off at 20+ mph than to simply come off due to a walking spook and spin/buck and fart.

Anyway, it was a short ride, so I don't know why this post is so long! I will leave y'all with another pic from our ride at PWF. Think good saddle fitting thoughts for me so my pony can FINALLY be fully comfortable, and not just 'making do' with a saddle that fits moderately ok.
P.S. Spazzed adding pics, so one is me, and the other is my friend. :)

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