Today was Maizie's first day back at school. There was a chill in the air this morning when I walked her to the bus stop (6:55 a.m. - ugh!) and the wind was steady all day. It felt like fall. Even last evening, when Maizie, Brian, and I played our last tennis of "summer" and the boys grazed in the pasture nearby, the shadows were long and golden.
I was very sad to see her go back after our spectacular summer, but happy that I have three horsey boys to comfort me all day! I am able to be at the barn from 7am - 2pm now. How great is that? I was able to ride most days this summer, but it just feels less rushed now.
Pie and I headed out on a big adventure this morning - insert my hysterical foreshadowing photoshopped photo, above! I did have a saddle on him (thankfully). He has been livelier than usual so I opted for the saddle on Monday and today.
Pie picks up bad mounting habits during the bareback (barstool) summer, so I worked with him today on the mount. He has a tendency to get nervous and turn his hind quarters away from me. When I make a second attempt he is even more nervous which is obvious by his rein grabbing and teeth chomping. Today I decided in the barn that we would go out to our mounting area and just stand around. When I could stand beside him without him being nervous, I clicked my tongue and gave him a treat. Then I stood back near the saddle and repeated the click/treat. Next, I moved to the block, and finally I got the perfect, quiet stand I was after. This happened last year too and I was defeated, but now I am so much better able to handle these little setbacks. I let go of the idea of whatever it was that I was planning to do, and realize that this is what we are doing. So, today, I breathed out and decided that I could care less if I rode. Pie and I were going to practice the mount. And, when he caught on so fast, I decided not to redo it and just stayed on him. I said thank you and gave him a "jackpot" and many "good boys". We have tomorrow and everyday after that to practice. I used to get off and redo a couple of times which just made him think that I didn't like the first effort. Today, I was on so we walked on and he snorted a release. Good boy.
After a great blustery ride through the woods and fields, Pie and I returned to the farmhouse and barn area. We had to pass one of our three luscious apple trees with their siren songs calling the weak and rotund Pie-Pie. He has historically been known to plaster his ears and buck if I urge him forward without stopping. This is obviously unacceptable. I always allow the horses to graze at the trees if I am on the ground so I want Pie to learn to move through the apple-dappled grass and back to the barn without a hesitation if I am riding. Today and Monday he moved through perfectly! Good boy, again.
Right before we got to the driveway, we heard a helicopter hovering in the distance. I turned Pie so he could see it better. We were out near the road and the helicopter started coming toward us and descending! Pie was standing with his head high and his heart was beating through his whole body. I didn't want to dismount because I am lousy at leading him when he is scared. For a split second I thought of my dear blogging friend, Once Upon an Equine and her ordeal with sweet Marley and the helicopter. Then, I tried to relax and empty my brain. It worked, unbelievably. Pie stood there and watched the helicopter fly back and forth over the power lines (checking for damage after yesterday's earthquake?) and behind the trees. How this horse got to be so good, I will never know. He was superb!
Next, I rode Sovereign bareback in the wind - I'll save that (long-winded) story for another time!