Monday, February 14, 2011

Mild Winter Weekend Riding!

Right in the middle of winter, our weather turned (temporarily) mild and sunny. So Buckshot and I got in two wonderful rides this past weekend. The arenas had good footing so we rode in both of them.

We also did some groundwork in the pasture and rode in the round pen. On Saturday, our class warmed up in the main arena, then walked down the road to the field arena and had a nice time there. Buckshot had good energy, and several times gave a strong, floaty extended trot. It felt like we were flying! So wonderful! We also did a few canters that weren’t bad at all. I did so much posting in the saddle I thought my legs would fall off! I could tell I need to strengthen my legs for this much work! But it was wonderful to have such a good riding day, with good footing, and good weather, and a horse that seemed to love it as well! Good Buckshot!

On Sunday, we planned to go to the reining farm for a clinic. The BO couldn’t go with us so we planned for the BOH, another rider and myself to go with three horses. I went to the farm Sunday morning, and after making sure our tack and gear were in the trailer, and after getting the stall set up for grooming, and chatting for a while, I went to get Buckshot. I was, as usual when trailering him somewhere, a tiny bit nervous, but I reminded myself that I know what behavior Buckshot has shown before, and I can handle it. We walked over from his pasture, eating grass along the way. As we approached the trailer, sitting right by the barn in “ready mode,” I expected to hear him blow through his nose. He didn’t. We headed to the barn and into his stall. He ate his treat of a small bit of sweet feed in the feed bucket. I expected him to start walking around the stall, poking his head out over the door, perhaps calling to another horse. He didn’t. He stuck his head into the hay and munched away. I groomed him.

(I tried a new trick with myself. Since I was feeling a bit nervous, I made myself smile as I groomed. The purpose was to encourage my nerves to quiet down. And it worked for me. Keeping a smile on my face did make my nervousness dissipate. Wow- a good little tip for myself!)

After all the normal grooming was done, we still had time in the stall, so I began doing a massage technique that I like, where I take his mane and tail brush and run it slowly down his back, over his haunches, down the back of his leg to a few inches below his dock. I did this three or four times on one side, then walked to the other side and did it several times on that side. It is a long stroking motion, with the brush offering what I think is a comfortable amount of pressure. He seems to like it.

After a few minutes of this, the BOH (barn owner husband) came to get us and tell us it was time to load. We went around to the front of the barn where the trailer sat. I gave Buckshot’s lead line to the BOH and he headed toward the ramp. At the ramp, Buckshot put his front feet on the ramp, and then paused. He just needs a moment; he doesn’t argue or pull back, he just takes a moment and then walks right in. I met his head at the window and secured the trailer tie, and gave him a treat. After the three horses were safely and quickly loaded, we hopped in the truck and left.

It took us a little over an hour to get to the reining trainer’s farm. We unloaded the horses and I walked Buckshot around a little. It was a busy place. Several other horses were being tacked up at nearby trailers and a few horses were in the arena. We got tacked up and mounted and we started our walking warm up.

We had a wonderful clinic. Although it was very windy, and sometimes hard to hear the trainer because of it, a group of about 8 or 10 horses and riders did a series of exercises and routines. I had a great ride on Buckshot. He was full of good energy, and seemed to enjoy the weather and the setting and the work. In one of the first exercises, we had to ride large circles and come through the center of the arena along a straight path. The trainer let me ride it at a trot, and Buckshot and I did well. The second time, doing the same pattern to the left, was super- I asked Buckshot for a canter and then rode it very well all the way around to the straight section. The trainer said we did great and to stop. I was so proud of us!

We haven’t ridden much in recent weeks (because of weather or footing), certainly not much cantering, so I was really pleased with that canter. As we did other patterns during the clinic, Buckshot offered the canter several times and I rode them, trying hard to steer better and to keep my seat in contact with the saddle. I was really glad to get that much cantering and trotting done, and since it was interspersed with a lot of standing/resting in the middle of the arena watching the other riders, I didn’t think it was too much work for Buckshot. When we watched the serious riders do sliding stops and fast spins, I whispered to Buckshot, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to do that!”

After the clinic, we got the horses untacked, loaded up and back home safely. I walked Buckshot to his pasture, and he did his usual- rolling just as quick as he could find the right spot for it. Then I fed the horses in his and the adjacent pastures, and told him what a good job he had done!

A great weekend break from bad weather and frozen footing! And lots of sore muscles (mine!) also! I hope you got to spend time with your horses as well!


wilsonc said...

I just love the way you have these little side conversations with your horse. It makes me smile because I do the same kind of thing.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's so nice that you had good weather and got some nice rides in and the clinic sounds good too.

I like your little trick about smiling it seems to work for you. When I'm nervous (and there's no one around) I sometimes sing to calm myself. Singing is something I do in the saddle too, again when no one is around to hear me.

Wolfie said...

I love the smiling tip! I am going to use that one!

Carol said...

Glad you had such nice weather and got some good rides in. You guys are doing so well.
Happy Valentines Day!

Story said...

Sounds like you had a great weekend! I've tried the smiling trick but my nerves are often so bad it turns into more of a painful looking grimace. I'm really starting to believe riding requires acting lessons! lol

Dom said...

So thrilled you got some nice weather and got to take advantage of it!

Endurance Granny said...

Yay! Sounds like you had a nice ride day Jan.