I did get to ride today, but Aires was being a bit of a dick. He has decided that he is afraid of the round pen (at least until he gets inside it) and it took the BO getting his lariat (which he only uses when he's lunging horses, in lieu of a whip) and smacking Aires' butt to get him to go into the round pen. He bucked a little when the BO smacked him, but he went. So, I got him in the round pen and lunged him and he did great. He was listening REALLY well.
But then it came time to mount. I have to use a mounting block because my ankle won't support my weight in the manner it needs to in order to get into the saddle yet and it won't quite bend at the correct angle to mount. Aires could care less about the mounting block. I let him sniff it and then the monster wanted to play with it. So, I led him up next to the mounting block (I was alone in the round pen...my friend was sitting on the viewing bench watching and taking pics) and asked him to stand (a command he knows okay). As soon as I moved back toward the saddle, he would move with me to keep it so that his head was next to me. I tried saying "Ho" and it didn't work. I tried everything I could think of, even sending him out to lunge again for not listening, and nothing worked. I got seriously frustrated, especially since my friend refused to come in and hold him while I mounted because "he will become dependent on someone holding him to mount" (ummmmm...yeah, no).
Anyway, before I got any more frustrated and ticked off, I took him out of the round pen and went to go unsaddle him. I hadn't even tied him yet and the BO asked out our ride was. I explained what happened and he told me to tie Aires loosely at the hitching rail and then act like I was going to mount. I did and Aires moved back until he felt that he was (kind of) tied, then he stopped. So, the BO had me get the mounting block and mount Aires while he was standing tied. Trouble is, Aires automatically starts to walk forward once you're in the saddle (he's new at all this, so we give him a break, but he's starting to get it). So, he started to walk forward and ran into the hitching rail. Luckily I have a very solid horse because I know other horses that aren't greenbroke that would have spooked at that.
So, we're standing there and all of a sudden I realize that I'm having serious flashbacks of what happened with Gypsy (the mare that threw me that STARTED this whole thread!)...and then the BO walks up and unclips Aires' lead rope and starts giving me instructions. "Turn him to the right and walk him four steps then make him stop." That sort of thing. We rode for about 10 minutes in the driveway and I was trying to keep myself from shaking like a leaf the whole time. Every time Aires would flinch or start to take a step back that I didn't ask him for, I flashed back to what happened with Gypsy and I'd have to mentally calm myself. Riding in the driveway didn't help (at least not for my first ride on Aires) because I kept picturing someone pulling in and Aires flipping out (not that he probably would, but I was in that mode).
When I dismounted, my friend (who didn't get any pictures of me riding) said that I looked like I was a new (novice) rider and that I looked really nervous. I went to the BO and told him that I'm not nearly as bad a rider as that ride made me look, but that my confidence was not as recovered as I thought it was from being thrown.
I do have to say that I am SERIOUSLY in love with my new saddle, though! I've only ever ridden one Aussie saddle and it was WAY too small for me (a 15" Aussie and I ride a 17" Aussie). I liked that I could feel Aires moving more than I would have been able to with a western saddle, but I still felt as secure as I would in a western saddle. I was also loving not having a horn because I tend to use that as a safety net and I had to focus more on balancing myself than grabbing the horn if I felt unsecure. It was also SUPER comfy (helps that I have a horse that doesn't feel like he's even moving when he walks lol).