I arrived at the barn today with cautious hopes for a good ride. Hunter had had a great time day before yesterday working with Lisa and Abby. He did a good job with the flatwork and had fun jumping.
Yesterday, however, I didn't ride because no one at all was around when I finally made it over at 4pm after driving up from NYC. I don't ride if there isn't someone at least on the property. I turned him out in the indoor hall, but, just as he did the other time I tried this, he wandered over to the jumps sniffed Lisa's glove, and came back to me asking to leave. Cheryle suggested "free longeing" (let him loose and crack a whip to get him going), but I didn't want to try it without asking my MHT first.
Anyway, today I got in there and there were three other riders in the hall, all experienced adults. GREAT. I will ride by myself, but three is a great number. Good company and not too much traffic. As a former trail horse, Hunter is much much happier with some company.
Unfortunately, I had trouble getting him into my ride today. Usually circles help, but the other riders were using those spaces. Then the freezing rain started. Winter precip, with it's noise and motion, is always a concern and a distraction for Hunter. I kept working on maintaining good contact with his mouth at the trot, but it wasn't so great. I considered calling it a day, but decided to keep going.
When N and Gunther started some canter laps, I decided to follow them. It always helps Hunter go forward when we can follow a leader. The reason I don't do it more, though, is he gets confused and distracted when the game is over. Again, he's a great trail horse and he loves to be in that group. I stopped following Gunther and trotted half a lap, working on transitions as I could feel Hunter getting antsy. Then Gunther came cantering by in a circle, and it was just too much. Hunter acted as if a bomb had gone off under his bottom and accelerated into the middle of the ring bucking. As he veered left and threw up his hind, I went sailing into the air and then down again on my right shoulder. Thud. Happy New Year to you too, Bub.
Thanks to the encouragement of the other riders, I hand-walked him a lap and then got on to do some trot-walk-halt combinations.
I'm still trying to decide what the lessons are, but I'm thinking about these right now:
1. Ride more forward and make it more challenging and intense earlier in the session
2. Stay brave. I fell off, and it didn't really hurt that much. (OK my upper body feels like a slinky that got twisted and won't go back together, but it's sort of interesting)
3. get a trailer so we can get down to the beach and gallop ASAP!!
Somehow we have to make three more months of winter productive and enjoyable. Off to find the Aleve . . . .