I went out to the barn on Sunday with the intent to ride a little. I gave up with having Steve be there with me for the first ride. I groomed Dani as usual and then grabbed the saddle. I only tightened the girth one hole since she has issues, then I went back and did it again, then again. The bridling was pretty easy though I entirely missed her mouth and had the headstall on with the bit dangling. I redid that, Dani was very cooperative and properly chuckling at me about the whole ordeal. The cob size bridle fit her nicely, only issue I had was the throat latch was tighter than I would like and it was on the last hole. I'll be getting a new bridle in the next year, month actually.
When I went to the indoor I started out with lunging Dani at a walk and a little bit of trot. She wasn't too sure of what I was asking but we communicated eventually to each other and she did quite well. The round pen is snowy now so I don't know when I can get to that groundwork. I tightened the girth one more time and then set to mount up, Dani backed up a little. I said whoa and then tried again though this time with the weight in the stirrup the saddle went around her side. UGE!
I tried to loosened the girth; one thing I have about Wintec is that fake leather is more stiff and difficult to maneuver than real leather. The billets were stiff, I eventually go the girth undone and repositioned the saddle. Then I tightened it again, counting holes and made sure to get it one hole higher.
I figured the mounting block would be a good idea. The Fjord lady had her horses trained to "park" at the mounting block but I knew I couldn't get Dani to do that so I led her close then repositioned it. When I stepped up Dani sort of eyeballed me and backed up a little. She did it a couple times again but then stayed and I swung over. I was on my horse!!!
We just did walking around the area, I didn't try to stick to the edge since even though she was fine with me walking with her and kicking the dirt at the edge I didn't want to chance any issue with our first ride. We did circles, Dani moved easily off my seat with assistance with the reins. Honestly I relied more on them because of nerves but it's something I can work on for the next ride. It's been two months since I last rode.
The last time I rode Dani was when Laurie evaluated her. The last time I rode any horse was during a "clinic" that Laurie conducted with two other riders at her place. We did a riding portion of it where we all took turns doing simple exercises on Divine. At first when going to the clinic I was afraid of riding Divine because the last ride was when I ended up on the ground and the wind knocked out of me but the environment was so supportive that I gained confidence and had a great time.
Anyways I digress. Two other riders were in the arena with me, they were walking, trotting and cantering around and for the most part Dani was good about that. One time she wanted to trot off with the other horse but I turned her sharply into a circle and slowed her. I'm not ready to trot on her yet I need to gain more confidence with her. Like I've said I'm taking things one step at a time, I have a lot of groundwork to do and then plenty of under saddle work...all of which needs to see success at the walk first.
I ended up doing serpentines, pretty sloppy serpentines but the change of direction helped me and I think helped her. Dani glanced at the mirrors a few times but I just redirected her like there was nothing to fear, well there wasn't, and she did fine. I do have to say it was nice to see me on my pretty mare in the mirror!
At one end of the arena are windows that point towards the pastures. While passing by the windows horses galloped past, mare feeding time, and Dani spooked slightly. It was just a start and I talked to her and encouraged her to keep moving, I had her change directions a few times too. She neighed to her friends but I had her keep on going.
We have to work on the mounting. She needs to be a statue when I mount, certainly a shift in weight is fine to set up her balance but no moving off, backwards or swinging her butt away. I spent the last 15 minutes in the arena at the mounting block. Anytime she swung away or backed up I quickly backed her up or made her move her hindquarters away. Eventually she realized that standing at the mounting block and having me stand above her was okay and much more relaxing than having me back her up or move her hindquarters. I made sure to end on a good note and scratch her chest while standing on the block. End of session.
I want so badly to get over the first hump of the Clinton Anderson exercises. The first requires a round pen, which I have but now with snow I'm not sure if I can safely use it. I'll try to find some time to set up the jumps and see if that might work to make a pseudo round pen in the arena. The key is finding time and with the next two weekends taken up with family affairs I don't see it happening anytime soon. Anyone else hear a New Year's Resolution in the making??
All in all the first ride was a success! The saddle was comfortable for me and seemed to be for her. There are issues to work on since she wasn't ridden too much at her old home and has plenty of holes in her training but her personality makes this mare a great first horse. I can learn things with her, make mistakes and she's forgiving. She's also very willing and catches on pretty quickly. We haven't been majorly challenged yet but I'm fine with that, one step at a time and regaining confidence tiny bit, by tiny bit....