I got on my horse on Friday. I don't know if I can say I "rode." If you define "riding" as the "mere act of not falling off" then maybe I rode.
We pulled out of the Centered Riding clinic because of the severe weather predicted for Saturday and Sunday. I took the opportunity to play with Cricket on Friday. All I can say is Ugh!
Cricket was . . . well, she was typical Cricket. Everything I asked for she didn't want to do and everything she offered she immediately hated. Most of our ride went something like this:
Me: Hey, Cricket, let's pick up the trot.
Cricket: NO! I hate trotting . . . I want to CANTER.
(canter depart, half stride, buck-up)
Cricket: I HATE cantering!
Me: It was your idea.
Cricket: I don't care, I hate cantering. I want to trot . . . but I hate trotting so I want to walk. I hate walking . . . I want to canter.
Enough is enough. After a few repetitions of the above sequence, I decided to help her find an idea and stick with it. She is, after all, a LBI and psychology works better than anything else. Since her idea was to canter, I picked the canter and went with it. The next time she offered a canter I decided we were going to canter until she could relax. It took a few circuits of the arena with more fits and starts and buck-ups than I can count. Finally she eased into a smooth canter and blew out. Brought her down to the halt.
Turned her to the left and we did the whole thing over again. This time, I managed her on a circle around half the arena and the goal was a relaxed trot. When she accepted the trot, we stopped on the rail and dwelled.
I don't know what was wrong.
- I made too many changes for one ride - pad, stirrups, bridle and reins. I was riding in jeans and half chaps and gloves. Maybe she was just as uncomfortable as I was.
- She may be having issues with her heat cycles. I'm considering adding red raspberry leaves to her feed. At least for the spring so I can see if that makes her more comfortable.
- It had been about two weeks since our last ride and my expectations were too high.
- Cricket is not - and never will be - a "pick up/put down" horse. She requires consistent work in order to offer her best.
- My seat is a hell of a lot better than I thought. Not once, in all her stops and starts and intermittent crow-hops, did I feel as if I were going to come off. I never felt afraid, even asking her to canter when I knew she was popping her butt.
- PNH is not giving me the answers I need to unlock Cricket's exuberance on-line. It's time for something different.
- In order for my riding to progress to a point where I can offer Cricket the under-saddle leadership she needs, I need to ride a horse that gives me time and space to improve my skills.