Today I rode Sovereign bareback. Here we are sneaking under the forebay and heading out on our ride. Sadly, the morning sun gave way to icky wind and grey skies. Sovey did not seem to mind. He walked on a long relaxed rein all around the barn and inside the pastures and in the front yard. Out back, he did circle quickly and try to return whenever I went too far from Pie.
I don't like the quick circling and return attempts. It tells me I took him farther than his comfort zone. That makes me mad at myself. He is very calm and enjoys our rides, but after being away for 30 days it is apparent to me that I rate low compared to his best buddy, Pie. This buddy sour behaviour is slight, but still it is there. This happened last year too, and is only natural since the horses spent every second of every single day together. Sovey needs me to ride him where he is comfortable for a week and then slowly push the boundaries. I listen to him, but the immature kid inside of me tries to take it too far, too soon. He wheeled around behind my grandmother's house. He wasn't insistent or rough, but with enough zeal to let me know that he would rather go back. Unfortunately, that opens a can of worms because I can't just let him think that quickly turning for home is a good behaviour, so then I have to work some small circles and figure eights and nonchalantly return to his safe area like I meant to do that all along. It could have all been avoided if I would have just taken it slowly, but I am stupid sometimes.
My eagerness was caused by seeing this gorgeous trail earlier. Mom and I went cross-country skiing all over the farm and I fantasized about riding Sovereign back through the trails.
Nice hat, Mom! She will be ticked that I put this photo of her skiing today on the blog but I think she looks adorable.
Even at my age, I find it difficult to do the right thing and be patient with my horses when there are new and exciting riding conditions. It snows and the trails are gorgeous and I suddenly forget that I was away for a month and need to go slow with my two young horses. That is what happened today and the same thing happened yesterday without the snow as an excuse.
Yesterday, I rode Pie, and he wasn't "bad" or anything like that, but I could tell as we grazed after our ride that he wasn't completely relaxed either. He ripped nervously at the grass. I rushed him into a ride, when he really wasn't ready. Pie doesn't exhibit buddy sour behaviours, but he gnaws nervously when I ask for too much. It was the first ride on Pie since I have been home, and I let the thrill of riding him again get the best of me. He was nervous when I groomed him so after tacking up I walked him (me on the ground) around the ring. He did his normal anxious head twists and head butts until he calmed and sighed/snorted and walked nicely in his own space. This is my sign that he is ready. But, he became fidgety again when I tried to get on. I should have just kept walking and then untacked and grazed again and not ridden at all. But I am a dumbhead. So when I got on he turned his hind quarters away from the mounting block and I mounted in a jumbled mess. Then, I realized my error and dismounted and asked him again to stand quietly beside the mounting block. He nervously grabbed a rein and started chewing on it. I took it out of his mouth and inadvertently got my thumb in his mouth while he was still chewing the rein. He bit my thumb (accidentally). I am not a masochist, but I was grateful for the pain because it brought everything to a halting stop. I stood there with him beside me. I was silently wincing but it forced me to stop moving and stand beside him. He stood still for a long time. I remounted and he was perfect and I gave him many "Good Boy" praises. Pie adores "Good Boy" almost more than food. We walked around and he was super good. I can't say too much bad about the ride. He hates the ring and tries to duck out (I leave the gate open on purpose) but when I asked him to walk by the gate he did. A low flying helicopter went over and I leaned forward, stayed with him (grabbed mane!) and patted him reassuringly and he was perfect. We circled in patterns and he was good, but not having fun. We then went out and I wanted to just go around the barn. He wanted to go to my mother's house and I let him talk me into that. Another error. He was perfectly good, but he just isn't really ready for that yet. He got the carrots that he was after, but he was more twitchy and antsy than if we would ride closer to the barn for a few days and then venture over.
This all sounds ridiculous, I guess, but with these two horses, it isn't as much about dangerous behaviours as it is about their confidence in the future. I can feel when they are confidently moving forward, venturing farther over our land, wanting to leave the property and that is what I want. I can feel their confidence when I stay in their comfort zone and slowly make it wider.
Yesterday and today I pushed too far, too fast and lost their confidence in me. I have to remember to quit early. That is SO difficult when I am riding because I never want to dismount. Never.