Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ride with Shar plus Bonus "Solo" Ride

First ride since Arya's colic episode.  It's been five days since the day she spent at the clinic, and the vet said as long as we took it easy, she should be good to go, so it was time.

I tacked up, and nearly forgot to do our round pen session, but Shar reminded me, so I quickly took her there and did a few rounds.  She did awesome--moved off with just a point and cluck, even trotting without me explicitly asking.  She was a little clingy--tried to move in for a head rub before I told her she could.  But hey we got close while she was sick.  :-)

I had butterflies driving out there and tacking up, but then I nearly always do.  Ugh.  Strange how the butterflies go away once I actually get on, though.  Mounted up and practiced standing still a bit then taking a few steps and stopping again without actually heading out.

We headed down the driveway, and I did one circle to "check in" with Arya, but she was doing great.  We did a few more as we rode away from home but didn't really need them.  She was on her best (though slowest) behavior.

We headed down the road, then onto a singletrack trail I don't think we'd done before (shortcut between two roads we have ridden on before).  As we approached a spot where there were some boards laid out in a rectangle and a couple other angles, her attention was totally focused on those boards.  She was probably thinking, "Please mom, don't make me walk over those.  You know I trip.  You know I don't like stuff like that."  Then a jackrabbit popped out of a bush right near us, and her ears flicked toward it and she flinched briefly, then her attention went right back to the scary boards.  And you know what?  I DID make her walk over them.  Ha!  (She did fine.)

We walked and trotted, mostly walking.  At one point, I was trotting her along a singletrack beside the road, and she tripped pretty hard (though not as hard as the time I came off!), and she really didn't want to get going again after.  She was VERY pokey at the walk.  She's clumsy on a good day but I think her feet are getting long...time to schedule a farrier appointment!

At one point we lost the trail and were going cross-country.  Not usually a big problem here in the desert, but we were crossing a field of lava rocks.  Arya's not the most nimble on a good day (doesn't help that her feet are HUGE, so find every rock out there!), and now her feet are too long, and she was really not happy.  Never really tripped, though--at least it made her watch where she was walking, unlike the nicer trails!

We turned for home, and she perked up a bit.  We did a few bouts of trotting, and I wondered aloud to Shar when I should start the "no trotting zone" as we got closer to home.  She suggested a spot a little further along than I would have thought, but I played it by ear and Arya was being TOTALLY responsive and slowing when asked (if not before--she is so lazy!), so we went for it.  And she did great!  So then we walked the rest of the way home, and I checked in with her at a few intersections, especially when she started initiating the turn before I asked her to, but she went rather willingly.  However, I didn't want her getting too complacent, so we took the "long" way home (only a tad longer than the other route, really).  She gravitated only the slightest bit toward the normal way home, and went perfectly willingly when I asked her to go straight instead.  What a good girl!  Of course, we WERE still headed home, and I'm sure she knew that, but not via the quickest route, so she's still a good girl.

We were having such a good ride that I decided to press my luck.  In hindsight, it might not have been the smartest move, but I suggested to Shar that she and Flash just head home when we got to the intersection, and I'd take Arya a little further and do some circles if necessary, in order to work our way up to a true solo ride.  It probably would have been better to go with my other idea, which would be for me and Arya to head out first and then get joined by her buddy shortly after, but oh well.

So as we approached the intersection, I just kept my entire focus straight ahead, on the stop sign way in the distance.  She got a bit more squirrely as we went along, so I rode for a little bit longer to make sure she was actually moving in a more-or-less forward direction when I turned her around toward home.  She started jigging and tossing her head and really really wanted to bolt for home and her buddy.  This is where I realized I was asking too much all at once--heading away from home AND her buddy at the end of a ride.  Oops.  But now that I'd done it, I had to stick with it.

I circled her.  She was NOT a fan, tossing her head and trying to head straight for home instead.  But I channeled Celena (and Shar), and thrust my boobs out, shoulders back, and looked ahead instead of at Arya's head.  Each circle brought us closer to home, because she was stretching out the side toward home and compressing the far side (pretty much pivoting on a couple of them), but I ignored that and focused on staying calm and just asking for circle after circle until they became softer and more even.  And they eventually did.  We did a couple circles each direction right near the intersection where Flash had left us, and she did great, so we headed back down the road toward home.  It's probably less than a quarter mile.  We did a couple more circles, then passed the driveway, circled again circled right in front of the driveway, and even halted right in front of the driveway.  This last stretch, she was still very forward and ready to go home, but she was compliant (and pliable), so that was fine.  We walked up the driveway, halted, then proceeded to go around the circular drive again, then over toward the wash rack.  I was still mounted.  Don't want her thinking we always have the same routine of pulling in the driveway and me hopping off in the same spot.  :-)

So, all's well that ends well, and I'm really proud of both of us for sticking with it and making it home not just safely, but hopefully with a little helpful experience under both our belts.

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