Horsey Therapist

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Finding balance

Ok, balance has a few meanings.

Yesterday I played around briefly bareback with my 'new' vaulting surcingle -- an eBay find that I hope will help me enjoy bareback riding more.

First I rode Sofia then on Rusty, in the round pen. What fun on Sofia! She responded well and has such a smooth trot for a big girl. Rusty was comfortable physically but mentally not quite with me, so I know I didn't really relax, and I pulled on him a couple of times. Haven't done that in a while. That's part of what fear does to me, makes me want to control others. Rusty's mind was on Bo who was outside the round pen worried about Sofia who was inside the round pen with Rusty and I... anyway, a couple of times Rusty headed toward Bo with energy and intention and I fantasized trouble with legs and the pen panels and started pulling almost immediately after asking and getting no "yes" from Rusty. Apparently I had no tolerance for his saying "no" to me then.

Finding balance today was with Rusty, saddled and in web sidepull, on some mental and emotional planes. I feel good about my requests, what they were and how I made them, and we had a different ride. My plan for the ride was to experiment with steering him more, but not so much as to lose the forward life that has shown up these past rides. But maybe enough directing him so that he would feel with me.

It has been fine line with us between encouraging doing things together and squashing his try.

I set up the barrels in the arena, one at each corner about 4-5 yards in from the fence. And played with directing him across the diagonal and around a barrel, directing him across the diagonal and around the end of the arena. Some repetition but not always the same pattern. The footing wasn't the best but we did well. Lots of trotting and cantering, some bouncing around. When the steering got so he would shift direction with just the slightest request from me, and that was tied with him trotting with a relaxed frame, I rode him to the gate, opened it, and played around with the same minimal steering, outside the arena.

Ok, I will confess I had the idea to head out on a trail ride. Because I stayed in touch with the horse I was riding, I felt when it was becoming too much for him and turned him back -- a millisecond too late. His energy was up and drawn back to the herd, and we went a bit faster than I liked due to the footing, but not a slip on his part and we started over. Eventually found that his comfort zone had expanded, and that was enough for today.

I know one day I will ride him out on the trail, just the two of us, without my having to get really close, shorten the reins, hold him out there with me. I know this! I am starting to prove to myself that I can ask for more without asking for too much. And keep riding without pushing or pulling, having a feel for 'let him think it's his idea'.

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