Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Up, UP, and AWAAAY!

I've got to admit that I've been putting off getting on Maddie since last fall, when she got really flustered about having the stirrups weighted. She's a worrier like her mama, and I wanted to wait 'til I had plenty of time to be consistent with her. So.... she got put off until summer vacation.... then put off for my "heart incident"....then put off while I played with the dun.... then, in July, Kate cut herself up a bit and got a couple of weeks off...well, I couldn't put it off any more.

I have to admit, part of my stalling was good old fear and trepidation: I'm closer to 60 than 50, and probably shouldn't be starting my colts myself, 'cause I need to be functional at work to pay for these guys! AND it's harder and harder for me to move/react fast enough to deal with any "issues" of a physical nature (read: bucking, rearing, bolting). So once I have a problem, I get all wuss-y. Maddie's reaction last fall had me somewhat intimidated, and I worried about how she would behave once I was up there.
Well... I needn't have worried!
The day before I had done some ground work, lunging and long lining (ground driving) around my almost-an-arena, then because she seemed mellow enough, I climbed on her and sat for a few minutes. No big deal. So I "flapped and slapped" a bit, climbed on and off a few more times, from both sides, and called it good. Total time in the saddle: maybe ten minutes.
So today (July 24th, 2008), it's time. But in the round pen, if only to feel a little more contained.
A little ground work again, then I led Maddie up to my "softer than my usual stump" mounting block.
I tell folks that one of my first lessons with my babies is "stand next to this [stump, bale, tailgate, chair, rock, fence] so the old lady can get on." Not only is it easier on my knees, it's a lot easier on their backs, and doesn't leave me struggling and vulnerable on my way up. In the case of first ride or two, I prefer the softer items, but on this day I was just too lazy to drag a bale into the round pen! She stood nicely (another expectation) until I clucked to her, then just moved off into a nice walk (unlike Kate, who had to be convinced that she wouldn't fall over with me up there!). Walked around, bending, giving, whoa-ing, and generally behaving ourselves very calmly for a first ride! A few gentle circles at the jog.
Maddie actually has a very animated, flowing stride (though she paddles a bit in front).
THEN we had to spoil our A-plus day with a snit about dropping the bit! Maddie's always had a silly little thing about her head--as a yearling she went a month or so being head/ear shy, for no apparent physical or psychological reason.
So, on this day, we worked on it. Head down cue, rocking her head back and forth (lateral flexion), slow and easy, 'til she got it. On and off three or four times, until she did so quietly, and with her head, if not low, at least within reach.
Then some lovin' when she did. Finish on a good note.
After that first ride, I got in four more last summer, the last two out of the arena and into the pastures. She has handled that very well, even on a blustery day, and with a new 30 foot dead tree placed out there for a jump/trail obstacle--tho new to her environment (as opposed to encountering it somewhere she had never been), all she did was she look hard at it, then trusted me to dismount and lead her up to it to check it out (again, my wuss-iness showing thru). Then I remounted her from the log, and we continued our ride...

For all my worrying, she's turning out to be just as sensible as Kate!

1 comment:

  1. That was anti-climactic in the best sort of way. I think you are wise to be cautious (you are not wussy!) with them. You have taken so much care with them all the way along that there is no sense in being hasty when it comes to those very important first few rides. Maybe Maddie just needed that extra few months of maturity to take everything in stride.