Last night after Ryan's successful work with Maddie, I realized that if I wanted Pat's help the first time I got on Maddie myself, that it would have to be today: Pat is leaving early Saturday to spend 10 days at the Oregon State Fair with her 13 year old granddaughter, who drives draft horses for a friend. Pat said, yes, she could use a little break from packing the camper. (Her husband, hearing only one side of the conversation, asked "You're not going riding, are you?!?" Pat assured him that she would only be coming down for a bit.) It's important to note that my husband, though willing to help (and pick up the pieces if need be) is not really a horseman, and wouldn't have the instincts to respond if Maddie decided to have issues.
So this morning I saddled up, with little to no melodrama, and was free longeing in the round pen when Pat drove up. Maddie and I had just worked through a little "catch-me-if-you-can"--which is ironic: Maddie's always been a little hard to catch in the paddock, and it's the one thing we've been working on, fairly successfully, this summer. But in the round pen, it seemed that Maddie thought that every time I approached her, she was to move off again. Now, after circling and changing directions [often] for 30 minutes, once she let me approach her and rub on her face, she got to air up and rest.
I put on her bridle and we circled a few more times each direction, and then I walked right up to her. Maybe she's figured that part out.
I led her to the mounting block and Pat held her head, more for a security blanket than anything. I upped and downed a bit, then threw my leg over. Got off, got on. Pat walked beside her the first few circuits of the pen, then unsnapped the lead, an slowly backed off, over the next turn or two.
Maddie and I walked. We reversed. We whoa-ed. We jogged. We were both a little tense, but I focused on keeping my hands light. I asked Pat to grab my camera to record the event. The battery was dead. She stood at Maddie's head while I dismounted, all the way to the ground. No problem. (Pat had been here the day of the graceful departure Maddie and I had back in May, and the subsequent re-mount and 20 minutes of trying to dismount again without panic.)
I ran in the house and got Al's camera. Remounted and walked off, while Pat got some photos.
|"Are you sure you wanna do this, Mommy?"|
|"Sure, Maddie. Let's go!"|
|Rubbing on her. Although her head was higher than I would prefer, for the most part she was pretty relaxed.|
|The head came up again when I went to dismount, but other than that, no reaction.|
|Now we can both breathe again!|
|Good girl, Maddie.|