"Ego gets in the way of harmony, sometimes."
-- Mark Rashid
I wanted to recap the ride on Sunday, because there were some things that happened that I was very happy about. Obviously, we had a very stressful ride and came home exhausted, but even in the midst of the worse part of that ride, I had some nuggets that I held close in my heart.
First, I think there is a very valuable tool in riding in an arena. I know there are some people who would rather cut off a leg then willingly ride in an arena, but I have experienced the difference it makes in your horse if you do so. Arena riding allowed Ashke and I to develop a level of communication that he respects and trusts and listens to. Every time we had a big spook, I tightened my fingers and my seat and he immediately came back down. I didn't have to grab hold of his mouth or wrestle for control. It was amazing. Time and consistent riding with intent really have made a world of difference.
Second, we rode our entire ride (that I was on him) with contact and except for a couple of moments right at the beginning, he was willing to yield his head. I got him to stretch down into contact. We did a little bit of piaffe on the trail with Cali walking beside us and he was so animated, but completely contained. He was foamy and relaxed and maintaining the contact really helped in those moments when he needed a little support. It has been the work we have been doing with Cassandra that has made that possible. Even though we were just walking, he did most of the ride moving off his hind end. The two times he bolted, he only took a couple of steps before he stopped.
Three, the Wintec is comfortable enough to trail ride in. There was no back soreness for Ashke and I was very comfortable. I don't feel as secure as I did in the Trekker, but I am expecting the Alta Escuela to fix that. Overall, the Wintec is a fairly nice little saddle, considering it is fairly mundane and cheap. The saddlebags were big enough to hold the torn up gloves and fit on this saddle really well.
Finally, I tried to maintain an awareness of my lower back while I was in the saddle. I can feel the muscles tighten up and block the energy. As soon as I thought about it, the muscles would relax and i could feel the movement again. It's going to take effort and consistency to maintain the relaxed muscles and not tighten against the perceived pain.
Tonight, I went to the barn to ride and ended up just hanging with my boy. I was too tired to get on and this time I recognized it before it blew up into a fight. I let him graze on the new grass coming up, paraded him around the neighborhood and let the little kids ooooo and aaaaaaa over him. We even encountered two young bucks and a pretty doe by the creek that runs through the barn. It was fun.