Monday, February 18, 2013

Loping along

I am sick...or, as we say in German, Ich bin krank.  (Yes, I've finally learned another German phrase applicable to something in my real life!) However, it's just a cold and I think it will slow me down only a little.

Yesterday was a riding day.  Mary hauled her horse, Jaime, over and we had a lesson in the arena.  No pictures of this, but Cornelius and I spent a lot of time loping ("cantering" when riding English).  Years ago, a horse took to violent bucking as I went into a lope and I was slammed into the sand. I've been afraid to go fast on a horse ever since.  Fears like this have a horrible power.  I worked on getting over this for two years while doing the dressage thing on Corny, but never felt secure perched on that tiny English saddle.  I could do it, but rarely was able to relax into it so that it was easy and the horse was happy.  I constantly fought the desire to crouch forward on his neck like a terrified monkey and pull on the reins.

Even when we got into the lope and were cruising around, Corny could feel  my desire to slow down and, lazy boy that he is, was more than ready to comply.  Our progress around the arena would be trot, lurch up to a reluctant lope, slow to a trot, shove back into the lope, slow to a trot, shove back into the lope....like that.  Exhausting and frustrating for me, but Corny would just get whiny and pissed.  Can't say I blamed him.  Through it all, Mary never gave up that I could get over this.  She's the stern but patient sort -- perfect for a teacher.

Switching back to the security of a Western saddle has helped.  It's more than that, though.  I've been reading about how a person's mindset can influence what they do.  Visualizing cantering easily and confidently before actually asking Corny to do it has worked wonders. I lean back, cue him gently with my inside rein and outside leg and off we go.  Just like that.  We still fall back into the trot, canter, trot mode on a regular basis, but we're getting it more and more often.  When he gets pissy over having to keep loping, I now get after him with a jab from the spurs or a spank on the butt with the end of my rein.  He was a little startled to learn that I will not be bossed around by a grumpy horse anymore.  Looks like Corny's mindset is changing too.

Afterwards, we went for our first walk down the road together.  We saw the pig (who ignored us), two tiny donkeys (who made both Jaime and Corny a bit suspicious), several dogs (who, thankfully, stayed in their yards), and were passed by several cars (no reaction from either horse).  The clip-clop of the horses' feet on the road, the warm day and riding together with a friend was all I could ask for.

It was a warm weekend and Bruce and I had a good time together. Busy, but not too busy.

I'd planned to prune the roses in the orchard garden, but never got to it.  Tonight and tomorrow it's supposed to rain.

Today looks like a good pruning day.  This is my sort of Monday!

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