Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Years Day Ride

My New Year's Day ride didn't quite go as planned. As I drove to the barn I was thinking about setting up a single small jump and maybe some ground poles too since I was hoping to work on seeing distances. Just as I was about to drive by the neighboring barn, I remembered it was actually a new month and I should leave a check before I rode in the indoor again. So I pulled into their driveway and wrote a check. While I was there I saw a couple other people in the barn aisle either tacking or untacking. Figuring that I'd probably have some company in the indoor, I threw the dressage saddle on Maggie instead of the Wintec and resigned myself to flat work again.

It turned out to be a good decision, because when I got to indoor there were FOUR other riders inside. That's a lot for this tiny 20m x 40m arena. Including us, that's five total horses in a small dressage arena! I had been lucky all throughout December to have the ring mostly to myself. I think there were like, two rides total last month where I had to share the ring with one other person? Spoiled.

So I got on Maggie and we walked a couple laps around the ring before picking up a trot. She was pretty calm at first though she was clearly wondering who all these other horses were and if she could be friends. Maggie is a really keen listener, which is great when she's listening to me, but when there's a lot going on around her she will listen to everything else as well. That includes other people clucking and talking to their horses. I can tell what she's listening to because her giant radar-like ears will flick back and forth. Still, she was a little fast but pretty calm. At least until the two girls on their ponies decided to pick up a canter.

Hearing hoofbeats coming from behind got Maggie in nervous-mode at that point. Maggie in nervous-mode means head up in the air and an obnoxious, fast, short-strided trot that I like to refer to as her Paso Fino impression. There was some scooting and crow hopping as well that I diligently sat to and tried to steer her away from everyone else. If she started to throw a real fit and bother the other horses and riders then I was going to dismount and leave the ring. I never want to be that person that messes up everyone else. I really didn't want it to have to come to that though, because that would be letting Maggie get away with being a twit. So for as long as the other horses weren't reacting to her shenanigans, I would ride through it and hopefully get her to relax again.

It was good practice for slowing her down with my seat and not grabbing rein. Plus I talked to her the whole time to try and keep her ears on me, saying a lot of "Eaaaaasy....Good girl...Sloooooow down." And it took a little bit of time and a few tight 10m circles to make her think, but eventually she did relax again, drop her head, and keep a good rhythm. We only trotted, and after a couple times around the ring in each direction I called it quits, ending on a good note. Total ride time: probably 25 minutes.

We walked back to the parking lot of out own barn and I remounted and took her for a short hack down the road a little ways. She may get nervous about other horses cantering up behind her, but she doesn't give a crap about cars! Good pony.

When we were just about to cross the road back to our barn we heard a cow bell ringing and some tiny hoof beats. That got Maggie's attention. Turns out the neighbor acquired a sheep (which was wearing the bell) and is now living in the paddock with the mini donkey and the goat. Maggie has always been wary of the mini donk for whatever reason (my hypothesis: she thinks she has competition for biggest ears around.) So I rode her up to the donkey's paddock as close as she would get and just made her chill there for a hot second.

Spooking at mini donks...It may be a new year, but some things may never change.


  1. (blogger ate my comments... ugh...) ANYWAYS - silly Maggie - mini donkeys are the BEST!!! good job getting some focused work from her despite the crowded arena! i definitely agree that horses cantering up behind you can be disconcerting!

    1. Blogger eats my comments all the time! What is up with that??