|Hmmm. what should we choose for our lunch?|
I wasn't sure I was feeling up to it, but yesterday, I was really hankering for a good ride and connection with Rocky.
We had close to four hours of bonding and riding. It was magic.
First we went to the orchard for the first time. He did great with the new surroundings; minimal spooks. We picked our lunch of pears and apples as he sidled me up against the trees.
We followed a lane into a large pasture that led to a walkway into the first gate of the farm park we live in. This was nice because we didn't have to go back out to the road and he got to see his old buddy and the new miniature who was just precious. I've always wanted one myself and it was sweet to see him hang with his buddy and come to say hi just as if he was fifteen hands high.
There are mounts and dismounts all through the ride and mostly down to the beach. He is now doing great with mounting and dismounting. Out of ten mounts and dismount (argh, gates) he only tried to take a step one time. Good boy!
|I'm cool walking at the water's edge . . . as long as it doesn't reach up and bite me!|
Rocky did a great trot session on the beach. I'm trying to get him to respond to voice commands and haven't planned to work on trotting or cantering purposefully until he has more time under the saddle and is a bit more "bomb-proof", but he did well. He was very accepting of the sea and spent more time in the water than ever before. The salt water is great for his unshod hooves and I want to get him to the point that we can go through deeper water with no problem so this is huge progress.
At the island, we went through the dangerous gate opening, lined with barbed wire (he followed me exactly) and went up to a place I refer to as "the secret garden." Its where there was previously a homestead and you can see some of the landscaping. There I loosened the girth, we nibbled some apples and pears and had a nice break in the shade before we headed back. We ended with a wash down and a nice meal and he was one happy, affectionate boy bidding me a fond adieu. PERFECT ride.
|Not crazy about the grass around here but the fruit and shade rock! And the loosened girth!|
Although he still occasionally tries to open his mouth for the bit when I am bridling him, he seems to love being bit less. Not only that, but I am able to ride Western (neck reining) on him now 97% of the time AND the majority of the time he is free-reining-- especially after the initial warm up period which can still consist of balking or wanting to turn around and go home, but much, much more infrequently and less intense. Rocky and I are simpatico much of the time. He intuitively can sense where I want him to go, he's understanding more voice commands, loves for me to talk to him during the ride and will frequently look back at me, "Am I doing good mom?"
He comes to me easily. I used to dream of that in a horse. My horse, Misty, was a stinker and hard to collect. I think much has to do with the different approach I am taking with him and that I am not riding him each time. Lots of times we just do some groundwork, or he gets groomed and loved and fed and turned back out. He's in a huge pasture, so even if I have to walk to where he can see me, if I just stand patiently he'll sidle up to me. He loves to snuggle at the end of a ride when I am releasing him instead of immediately taking off. He LOVES physical touch. When walking together in precarious situations he's very cautious of me. I'm really feeling the love is two-sided.
So yep, yesterday was a therapeutic ride. And to top it off I was able to hang in there for play rehearsal and here I am the next day feeling no worse for the wear, which tells me that my health is improving at an amazing rate.