Monday, August 1, 2011

Sticky Sunday

Hot and just plain ugly sticky - it was 75' at 6 am, and you could see the water hanging. I loaded Sunny and Thunder and headed over to ride with J & C, hoping for a repeat of Saturday's breeze.

See the haze hanging out there already?

Unfortunately, although there was a bit of air
moving it wasn't enough to cool anything off.

We were hoping to leave by 8 am at the latest, and we almost made it. C isn't a morning person. Although she gets some slack - her barrel run the night before didn't finish until sometime after midnight. But 15 minutes one way or the other wouldn't have made much difference anyway.

I wasn't really that serious after last week's ride when I commented that Thunder was so good, next time he could go along saddled. But... the thought was percolating.... And when he was so nonchalant about the saddle on Saturday, I decided to see how Sunday morning went, and if it looked reasonable, I'd go for it: I'd saddle him, too.

I tacked Sunny up first, to minimize the wait and fidget time, then Thunder, walked him a bit from the ground to make sure he wasn't hunchy, then hopped on Sunny and the three of us moseyed out.

The big question: how did it go?

Well, taken overall it was a gold-star day.

It was HOT, so we walked a fair amount, but we ran through the rest of the gaits a time or two, as well. We still didn't do any loping in a group - mainly were footing allowed we leap-frogged around one another every now and then.

We did the whole 8 mile loop again, only backwards this time. Thunder did crowhop once, about three jumps worth, when he finally decided to try loping instead of just trotting.

Dang, but that horse has a SU-PERB extended trot!

Bucking was pretty much a fail, since he didn't have that much leadrope to work with. He basically stopped pulling as soon as he encountered resistance, and that meant he couldn't really get his head down - I just reined Sunny in and tugged his face around. As soon as he softened, I let him have some slack back. Sensibly, he quit almost as soon as he'd started. I straightened both horses out and on we went with barely a bobble. At a guess, one of the stirrups clipped him and/or the cinch felt different loping than it had walking and trotting and gave him a bit of a start. Overall he did well - C said at one point that if she didn't know better, she'd assume he was a broke as the other three the way he behaves. Needless to say, that's not an assumption I'll be making any time soon - LOL!

Sunny gets a gold star, too - he's being an excellent example for Thunder. None of the stuff that Rufus looked at the day before rated an eye-roll or a snort. And he worked off my legs and responded really nicely during Thunder's little episode.

Both boys were much better with the hose post-ride, too. I think they've figured out that cool water feels pretty terrific when it's warm.


Are you shaking your head over the fact that I ponied Thunder saddled after only a few minutes wearing a saddle and only one previous time along? Well, here's my thought process:
  1. He's 7, not a baby: his brain is grown up, and so is his body.
  2. He has been saddled a few times in the past, just not recently. On none of those occasions did he show signs of being broncy. (Any saddling worries were definitely more in my head than his!)
  3. He was patently unconcerned about me flapping stirrups, squeakings and creakings and seat pattings, or any wiggling and tugging on stirrups I was doing - he was paying attention, sure, but not spooked.
  4. Being ponied in and of itself obviously didn't phase him. He's respectful and responsive when led on the ground. Being ponied didn't change that.
  5. I don't have a round pen or access to a good space to safely free longe him saddled (or unsaddled for that matter) to let him work the kinks out, and I didn't really want to run around and around the pasture with him, although I did trot him saddled in-hand with no issues.
  6. At the trailer Sunday morning even in the semi-unfamiliar environment his overall demeanor was relaxed, not tense, anxious or irritated. Had he been, I probably would have worked on that for a bit, then just ponied him along unsaddled and called it good.
  7. The two people I was with are both excellent horsemen - okay, one of them's female, but I'm sorry, "horsepersons" just sounds funny! - on solid, broke horses with calm, easy-going dispositions. Both of them have experience starting young stock. Either of them in a pinch would have been able to take over ponying and/or provide assistance if necessary. Had the combination been different, or had there been additional riders along, I probably wouldn't have risked it.
  8. They were again considerate of my wishes in not doing any loping all clump together. That kept herd pressure to "race" down and minimized the risk of collisions or wrecks during any broncy moments. When he did decide to crowhop, I had all the room I needed to maneuver without worrying about running into or over another rider.
Add in the fact that Sunny is sensible, quiet, and generally pretty steady as well as familiar with the route we were taking, that Thunder is used to following his lead, and that it was hot and fairly calm weather-wise.... Well, taking the next step just felt comfortable to me. Thoughts?

No comments: