Spring is (or was, for us Minnesotans) in the air, and that of course means that my barn is wrought to the withers with cases of the spring friskies (or the spring stupids, as I call them). We've got horse-eating garbage cans, horse-eating snow sleds, horse-eating barn doors making noise, horse-eating turkeys and horse-eating pigeons. We can't forget the horse-eating plastic bags and the horse-eating wormer syringes. Everything is out to get our little herd, and if they're not spooking, they're darting around like bumblebees in a jar just because they can.
This makes for a delightful riding prospect, because, invariably, there is something that is going to jump out on the trail and try to eat Stella. But, like any rider, I'd gotten it in my head to go for a ride on a nice afternoon, and ****ed if I was going to let a little thing like a spook-and-spazz deter me.
Stella has not had any time off this winter, I've been riding several times a week since she came home with me in February, but I haven't had a saddle on her for about a month, because I've been trying to improve my seat, balance, and confidence. It's amazing what your seat will lose when you take a few years off-- whew! So other than the invisible creatures that lurk in the spring time air that cause horses to behave naughtier than normal, there was no reason at all for the melt-down Stell went through on this particular afternoon.
I spent about an hour scraping her out (I'm convinced it's about 45lbs of hair at a time) and then threw my bareback pad on her, hopped on and watched my normally sweet, low-key mare go Satan's Mistress on me.
First, she didn't want to leave the courtyard. Then she wanted to circle. Then came the crow hopping. Shortly after that, there came the bucking in earnest. Despite what I thought was my questionable seat, I felt no fear, no panic, and I was able to stick to her ornery butt without any real difficulty.
We went around and around for about twenty minutes before I decided I was going to need to be more aggressive, so I hopped off, threw my saddle on her, and proceeded to play devil's advocate. More bucking, more sudden direction changes ensued. But after about our 267th tight circle, her head came down, her back relaxed, and she was willing to go where I pointed her, at the speed of my choosing.
We had done a hard trot for probably four or five miles, a bit of cantering, and more circles and reverse than she cared for, but when I was finally satisfied with our ride, I brought her back to the courtyard. She stood patiently while I hopped off, euphoric, and was the embodiment of calm, well-behaved and gentle-mannered.
It wasn't until after we had finished and I'd put her back that my mother, who had come to see her (and subsequently got to witness our little tiff) looks over and says, 'Kate, you stuck to her like glue. Good job riding it out.' that I realized that, well, I *had* stuck like glue. Apparently all that bareback riding had improved my balance and my seat so much that I those things (or more the lack thereof) became a total non-issue.
Any other 'AHA!' moments this spring?