First a catch-up: On Saturday we were treated to enough snow and just the right temperature to cause the roads to be crap. Crap enough for me to decide not to go to the barn... I know. Lame, but it's 30 minutes away when the roads are perfect and there's no traffic. There were accidents all over so traffic was super slow.
Sunday the weather was beautiful and the world was covered in pretty white snow....and the roads were cleared, though my whole parking lot and the little roads around it are STILL glare ice. Fun. Anyway, I thought about turning him out since the big paddocks were unlocked and the odds of another horse being in one of the other turn-outs was good (he'll run around like a wild brumby if another horse is across the fence) BUT I was too chicken. I KNOW that under that pretty snow the whole area around the CONCRETE waterer is solid ice and that could spell disaster for my clumsy little moose. I opted to lunge instead. Safer. Maybe not as fun for him, but safer. When I was tacking up there were to high school girls in the arena riding.
This is where our Story begins....
I took him in to lunge and the two girls were coming out and into the barn. I nearly finished lunging when they came back in. I went to mount and the two of them were cantering and jumping and laughing and yelling and playing follow-the-leader and being loud and fast. Jr. didn't really enjoy the commotion, but he needs desensitization so it was kind of a nice schooling session. I caught myself being REALLY mad at the girls. I thought they were riding too hard and too fast and not taking it seriously. They were difficult to maneuver around because they had the jumps up so I couldn't cross the arena and it was even hard to change directions and attempt to stay out of their way. I was even considering saying something to them...and then I had to laugh at myself. Though I don't think I was ever THAT hard on a horse, I was once brave like them. When they hit a pole they would laugh. I would've choked on my heart if I had taken one of those fences (the were tiny) and caught the bar with hooves I would have been terrified. Why? Because I'm old and a chicken-shit and I had no real reason to do say something and ruin their fun. They were polite enough to me, one of the girls even apologized and asked if they were spooking my horse, but I told them it was good experience for him. I had to admire that gusto that I no longer possess. I remember it. It made me a bit jealous. Once last spring when I was riding Rip in a lesson he started to lope faster and faster and I suddenly WANTED him to. Granted it was in a lesson and I was told to slow him down and was knocked out of my little wind-in-hair fantasy. Jr's a little clumsy, though so I worry about going too fast with him yet.
I remember reading an article in Horse Illustrated about being afraid to canter. I cannot imagine being afraid to canter AT ALL, but when I was working on the green ponies a few summers ago I was scared of cantering them. That was mostly because they were green and those little legs seem to move SO fast. I am more nervous at the canter and I admit sometimes when I'm schooling I'll only do one lap of canter each way, especially if the arena is busy, though that is getting better and better. I am fearful of tiring him out so that he becomes more clumsy, and I feel more at risk for a fall. I'm certain that most of this fear is because the ONLY decent riding fall I ever had was at the canter. It was fall of my senior year in high school. I had shown Lark that summer so Banee was a bit out of condition. I was doing a figure 8 and Banee was insisting on doing a flying change. Because she was out of condition I was trying to bring her back to a trot to change. She tripped and we both fell and slid across the arena. I still remember how fast it happened and how I was on my left side on the ground with her belly ON my left leg. She jerked herself up and stepped on my right foot in the process. I had a bruised foot and a bruised left calf (which STILL has a little dent in it) but neither of us were injured. So why does it terrify me to think of falling? Every time he even catches a step my heart skips a beat. It IS getting better, I'll admit. He hasn't actually fallen yet, but not a ride goes by that he doesn't trip at LEAST once. He nearly took a digger on the lunge tonight. He actually hurt himself a little I think. He hit a knee I think, and then stood back up, turned to me and sort of held one front leg up with his ears back like "Ow, mom." I walked to him and petted his face. KAT was teaching a lesson in the arena and she didn't say anything. He looked like he was standing on both legs so I told him to walk on. He took off at a trot and I called him back down to a walk so I could watch him. He looked fine to me but I walked him a minute or two until he looked totally normal both stride and attitude wise. He trotted and cantered after that and seemed just fine. I asked KAT to watch him and she said he looked fine. The lesson was good. KAT was complimentary on how well he's doing which is nice to hear after 2 weeks without a lesson! He is steadily, steadily improving and he's certainly grown on me. He gives super good cuddles!
Right when I got there, the cutest most polite 10 year old in the world came up to me and said "Excuse me, I'm sorry to take up your time, but would you please help me tack up my horse, I've never ridden him before and he's too big for me to put the tack on." OMG like I could say no! I had her get the tack and I haltered Norman for her. Norman is a ginormous (bigger than JR) palomino QH. He belonged to my college Equine program but I guess he can't stay sound enough for the type of riding they do (jumping and dressage) so he came to our barn to do wtc lessons on the flat. He always acts like he's going to bite, but I think he's one of those horses that has that lesson-horse demeanor because sometimes they get away with it. She was a little timid which is understandable when she barely came up to his chest and he's this big fuzzy yellow monster with teeth. The girl was just so adorable and sweet and I don't even LIKE kids. But I was happy to help her. She brightened my day a little with her questions and by the time I got his bridle on he had stopped showing his teeth. If Norman had been at the barn before I got Jr I would've asked for a lesson with him. I think he's the prettiest thing.
I'm going to TRY to get out to the barn every day this week since I'm leaving on Saturday for 2 weeks but with packing and sewing christmas presents and work I might not make it happen.