Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I'm all for 50' temps, but I have to hope the snow melts and soaks in soon!  Yesterday the footing was decent, if not great.  Today, continued warmth meant Sunny was alternately splashing and squelching.  The lot was muddy, but I didn't realize until I was out in the field how bad it really was.

I could have gone down the road, I suppose, but that would have meant fussing around changing saddles and since we haven't been out on the road in nearly a month, jut the three of us by ourselves, I'd rather wait for a day when we have company - and until I can see what's underfoot in the ditches if we have to make a dash into one.  So...

We moseyed around for a few minutes trying to find the best routes (least mud, most grass and snow).  The farm owner came out to chat, which ate up about 20 minutes, and then we meandered around some more doing small circles and leg yields and working on collection and bending/counter-bending at the walk.  About 40 minutes total time in the saddle, and about half that he was dozing while I talked.  Oh well -  chalk it up to good exercise in patience, I guess.

So here's a question for all of you - when you're done riding, do you ride all the way back to where you started?  Do you stop, get off, loosen your girth/cinch and walk the last part of the way?

Here's what I do - not saying it's a best practice, just throwing it out there for the sake of conversation - lol!

In general, if I'm riding out, I stop at the foot of the driveway or a little way down the road, get off, loosen the cinch and chill a minute or so before preceding up the driveway.  If I'm in the arena or practicing in our field, I stop somewhere in the center or along the edge away from the gate - but never at the gate - get off, run the stirrups up (depending on the saddle), loosen the girth/cinch and take a minute to rub some itchy spots.

Initially I started walking the last bit home after riding out because after a long ride, my back and knees didn't like me.  A short walk was a good way to stretch.  I made it a regular habit when I noticed that, after it was clear to the horses that they were pretty much done working when the cinch loosened up, they were standing more quietly and not wanting to rush back up the driveway.

In the arena, an additional benefit is that Sunny doesn't associate the gate with being done.  Since I never end a ride twice in the same spot, he doesn't automatically try to stop anywhere, either.  But when I do stop, he plants himself on the off chance that this time might be it for the day.  He's learned that if he wiggles, we keep going.  And if he moves after I get down, I get back on.  But if he's still, there's a chance that he'll get me off his back, a loose girth and an ear rub. Patience-builders... gotta love 'em!

Growing up, we always either rode back to wherever we started (or had left the halter) before getting off, and then the saddle, etc. came off all at once.

When I took lessons out east, we were taught to get off, run both stirrups up and loosen the girth mid-arena prior to leading the horses back to their stalls for un-tacking.

Riding at Eric's on his horses, just out of habit I usually loosen the girth when I get done and do a bit of ear rubbing by way of thank you for the ride.  Haven't had him comment one way or the other yet, though.

So what's your routine at the end of a ride?  Do you have one?  Why, or why not?


Tammy said...

I like your idea of getting off and walking back to the barn. Being a tad bit lazy, I would never have thought of that. I ride back to the barn right into the lean-to where her halter awaits.

I do open the arena from the saddle as it is a practice we have been fine tuning for years. But Windy is not one that has to rush to the barn or rush to the gate. I can run her home or walk her; she complies. But I do think about the gate with the others and will have to remember not to end on that note. Thanks for that.

SunnySD said...

As always, Windy sounds like a lovely partner :)

Gates I can open from on top are high on my wishlist - not quite as high as escape-proof ones, but right up there - LOL!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

At home I always get off a ways away from where I am going to tie my horse, loosen the cinch and give a pet or an ear-rub. When I am away from home (at events or just riding in someone else's arena), I get off in the arena, loosen my cinch, pet/ear-rub and then lead my horses back to the trailer.

It's just what my parents taught me from an early age to prevent a horse from becoming barn-sour. I don't know if that is 100% the case, but I think it is a nice finish to a ride and lets the horse know that 'You are done HERE, in whatever spot I say you are done, not back at the trailer or hitching rail or wherever you usually saddle or unsaddle.'

SunnySD said...

Wise parents! :)