Monday, April 2, 2012

Challenging Myself

So since Joey decided he was more interested in galloping home to his buddies than you know, caring whether I stay on or not, I've been very hesitant to try riding him outside of the ring. I still haven't done it, and although his owner came out several times to hack him and found no problem, I always came up with an excuse to not try again--it's too windy; it's too muddy; he's (conveniently) lame. That lameness  meant that I was riding other horses last week, one of whom is an awesomely stubborn, giraffe-necked Arabian named Eclipse:
He's a good boy, but he has his own ideas on how things should be done.
Specifically his problem is that he won't go on contact unless you really push him into the bridle with your leg. I'm still working on this--I can usually get him to do this in the first few minutes of trotting, but then we lose it. Still getting used to his quirks. The good thing is that he's very focused, while Joey is more tempted to pay attention to his buddies or random people walking around, etc.

So on Thursday I decided the time had come for me to stop being silly. Sometimes I sense disturbing similarities with my own mindset and with a horse's--if I have too much time to think, I get nervous, but if I put myself to work, I just get the job done. I love to hack out, and I have many fond memories of tearing around chasing deer with my ex-foxhunter in high school. Riding outside is not something I want to give myself any more time to rattle around in my brain as an evil monster.

It was so worth it.
A few years ago, a big open field like this would have made me think GALLOP!!!! I want to build myself back up to that level of confidence. So much of riding is just that--confidence-building, in a kind of twisted way. If you're afraid something horrible will happen, it will, just because you're nervous and that transmits loud and clear to a flight animal. Riding is basically BE CONFIDENT OR ELSE. I don't know why that works for me, but it does. I think it's why I've always loved jumping--the risk is there, but there's so much to plan and regulate that I just do what I have to do instead of overanalyzing it.
On the road again...check out those perky ears!
The ride was uneventful enough that I bridged my reins and snapped a few photos along the way. We only had one minor spook trotting uphill when a bird flew up suddenly and he skittered away. I circled him and then he was totally fine, no big deal. We walked for a while after that while I tried to get my leg to stop trembling--it was more of my spook than his. After a few rounds of singing the ABCs, breathing deeply, and putting my weight in my heels, I felt OK enough to pick up a trot again.

The farm was long out of sight--it was just me and Eclipse tracing the perimeter of the corn and grass fields. We even cantered for short stretches--Eclipse was ready to GO!  Thankfully he is very easy to rate and we kept it at a canter rather than a full-out gallop. He was definitely not thrilled to come back to the walk--I think the best way to describe it is rangey. He was covering almost as much ground as a trot (which, by the way, was suuuper smooth)!

I was very happy with the ride, even if Eclipse was a bit peeved at the pace. Easy does it...and maybe I'll be trying this again in the near future with Joey. The approaching warm weather is on my side.


  1. Riding outside is a whole different skill set. Glad you're back at it.

  2. I'm glad you were able to take the challenge and rise to occasion! The warm weather will definitely lend itself to some more opportunities.

  3. I love these pictures from the rider's perspective! The closest I've been to that is riding a pony at RenFest....not quite the same. Looks exhilarating!

  4. Nice! Personally, if I had access to areas outside the outdoor arena to ride, I would be out there every day. I don't have the patience to go around in circles working on things (unless it's bareback!) but wandering through nature with my horse is a wonderful experience. My parents and horse live right near Rosaryville Park, which has awesome trail riding and event jumps set up. Bo & I love love love it.