November 6, 2008

Isis and Sierra

I got out of work later than I wanted and went to the barn. First time I was able to ride this week. (First week after daylight savings time.) Something about working hard to leave at 4:30 and then getting out and realizing it’s actually 6:00 pm… and I only had 30 minutes to tack up and ride before it was dark.

The ride started off pretty well. Until Isis’ barn buddy came out to be grazed. Isis could see Sierra and wanted to go be with the buddy instead of paying attention. Every time we came around the word area, Isis would speed up towards her buddy and would strain her neck to look at Sierra.

This was a (not fun) opportunity to see if the things we’d been working on in lessons would work. I focused on getting Isis to pay attention by riding in circles and pressing my inner leg to ask her to bend around my leg. Gradually she paid more attention. Susan, Sierra’s mommy, suggested doing transitions to help Isis focus on me a little more. Probably is, when Isis is like that it is difficult to slow her down. You let her go faster and she’ll keep getting faster.

The suggestion to try transitions reminded me of something else from lessons: pivot on the forehand. I asked Isis to walk forward and then stop. Once she was stopped, I asked her to pivot to the right. And she did it. Immediately her attention was back on me. We walked a few more paces, stopped, and then pivoted going the other direction. After that she wasn’t perfect, but she was more focused on me.

Overall not a fun ride, but a good learning experience. My confidence levels are up. I’m feeling better about riding and like Isis and I are building a good working relationship. (Of course, any time I’ve had to kick her, I feel horribly guilty about it. I usually only have to kick to emphasize a cue or something I’m asking for — especially if she hasn’t been paying attention. After the kick, I go back to light cues.)

Sierra had also been a butt when she was ridden earlier, too. Apparently there was something in the water yesterday.

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