Monday, May 16, 2011

Riding Dee

Dee has really progressed in her learning, after my initial report of her calm acceptance of my sitting on her, squirming on her, bumping her,  bouncing on her.  After a couple of sessions of just mounting, she and I decided it was time to try a little walking.  I know I mentioned that before, but here are a few more details of those first steps:

I was home alone, expecting my husband shortly, but he wasn’t around at the time I wanted to ride.  Because of this, I decided I would not push Dee.  I wanted her to walk, but I also wanted to avoid any semblance of a freak-out factor.   So, once she was mellow at the mounting block, I got on her and quietly asked for a walk.  With greenies, I actually just say, “Walk,” with almost no leg. 

Dee, left, and Hudson the queen mulling things over in the grass.
See, Dee taught me, the first time I got on her over a year ago, that if you use legs too quickly to try to give instructions to untrained horses, sometimes they just, well, BUCK.

So, back to the present, I said, “Walk,” and she cocked her ear, thought about it, then took a hesitant step.


We did this for a minute or so, and then she decided that she would walk a succession of steps, in the direction of the barn.  When we got to the end of my safe landing area (thick grass), I asked her to turn back.

Uh-uh.  That wasn’t  happening.  She wouldn’t walk back to the mounting block.  She would turn around, but she wouldn’t walk back.  So, remembering that I was trying to avoid the freak-out, or, by association, the pre-freak-out fight, I just got off her, walked us both to the mounting block, got on again and said, “Walk.”

And off we walked, in a line toward the barn, same routine, end of safe zone, off I went, back we strolled, up I got, off we walked.

So after doing that three times, we called it good.

The next time out, Dee was already in a state of high anxiety.  I don’t know if was the wind or all the cow chasing that had been going on all around her, but she was hot.    

Adding to her state, my hubby accidentally let the dogs out while Dee and I were standing, chatting with friends who had stopped by.  Dee isn’t used to the dogs, and she objected to the sudden appearance of two predators charging at her. They are actually afraid of horses, but she didn’t know that.  In fact, I think she might have flown me like a little Amy kite, for a moment, at the end of her reins. 

But we pulled it all back together, somehow, and I got on again.  This time, she decided, after much coaxing, that she would walk hesitantly back to the mounting block.  So we walked away from and back to the mounting block a few times, and we called that good, as well.

Tonight, after very good ground driving (still using that, pre-ride, at this stage), she was all business.  I have said this before, but I am always so impressed with horses when they seem to mentally practice their lessons during their down time.  Dee seemed to have done just this, and when I got on, off she went, walking all over the place with a big long stride, back and forth, around the yard.   It was as though, as she was thinking things over last night, she said, “By George, I think I’ve got it!”

She walked anywhere I asked, long grass, short grass, around side of the house.  She did try to trot off to the barn once, and I thought we might have a bit of a meltdown when I told her “no,” but nope.  She contained herself and we resumed her march around the yard.

I’m tickled with her progress, and am excited, too.  I think she’s going to be a horse who really wants to do things.  We’ll see.  We have a long way to go, but she’s breaking clean from the starting gate!

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