I actually put a saddle on my horse and rode yesterday. It's a Christmas miracle in February. It's been just two weeks since my surgery and I feel pretty good.
We started with a short ground warm-up. During our recent winter weather event in which I was iced in, I started re-watching some of my SC DVDs. I watched Linda do a lesson in which she paid particular attention to the horse's attitude. Hmm, how interesting. As this was a comment on my recent Liberty audition, I decided to take Linda's techniques an see if I couldn't give Cricket a little attitude adjustment.
On the circle game, during change of direction, if she pinned her ears I gave her a pattern interrupt. I tried to be quick, effective and unemotional. For the most part I think I succeeded. I was probably late on my timing but I wasn't mean or mad. She started licking and chewing and having better thoughts on the change. We did just a little trot and canter. She was fairly responsive, not overly forward. Good enough to ride.
Because my tummy is still bruised and tender from the surgery, I actually had to get my saddle out so I could mount without causing further injury. Girthing her up, I realized how much Cricket has slimmed down over the past several months. Her girth that was on 5/6 or maybe 6/7 is now easily on 7/8. She's by no means skinny - I still cannot feel her ribs. If she stays this sleek, I may have to invest in a shorter girth.
She was good for mounting and we just warmed up at a walk. That felt good and I asked for a trot. Man, did she open up. What started as a little jog quickly became a forward, working trot. I posted her and just combed the hackamore reins - not with enough pressure to affect her but to keep me from grabbing on to anything. I alternated between "at the buckle" and combing the reins. The cool thing was that I didn't feel she was racing or bracing. I wouldn't say she was totally relaxed because let's face it, neither was I. I'm not used to her being so forward. I'm adjusting from initial fear (months ago) to unconfidence (before Christmas) to mildly unsure (is she racing and bracing or is everything okay?). Sometimes I forget to breathe and that inhibits her breathing.
All in all we only rode maybe 20-30 minutes. I was so pleased with her forward motion AND her willingness to come down with just my breath. And not slam on the brakes halt but rather melting to a nice stop. In my mind, that causes me to think she was more relaxed because she was able to maintain her connection. She also did some nice stretching under saddle.
The dismount was awkward. My muscle memory includes laying over her and scratching her belly before jumping down. Can't do that right now. I got a little tense and managed to waller off of her. I think I stressed my surgery site because it's a little more tender today than yesterday. But not bad enough not to ride today.