"Post from the past"
April 6th 2008 (evening)
This afternoon, I rode Catlow in the round pen again. I tried to get a canter out of her, but I could not get it again today. We did, however, ride over the tarp today. It was no big deal; she walked right over it when I directed her there. She was so calm that after I had trotted her quite a bit in the round pen, I took her outside the barn. I rode her up and down the driveway and around the driveway bushes and such. I also trotted her around the wagon and the tree, and tried to keep her trotting and listening to my cues. Then we weaved our way out the gate (she wouldn't walk in a straight line anyway, so I did serpentines in the direction I wanted to eventually go, and that kept her mind occupied whenever she wanted to think about balking). I really only meant to play around in front of the driveway on the road, but the circumstances were just right (other horses weren't galloping around and freaking her out like yesterday; that's why I took her for a walk instead of trying to ride her). So, we headed off down the road, with me riding her! I stopped at really succulent grass patches and let her graze a bit (it kept her mind interested in being away from the other horses). We went down the trail that leads to the canyon because I wanted to see how the trail was (slightly muddy, but firm in most places). She was on alert and didn't really want to be walking down this trail without other horses, but I kept urging her, talking to her, and having her flex and yield her hindquarters whenever she started thinking about going home. We went all the way to the clearing about halfway down to the bottom of the creek before the trail got too muddy (I didn't want to damage the trail too much). Then we turned around and headed home. Of course, on the way home, she walked at a nice pace and in a straight line, but I would expect that. We periodically stopped and backed then stood calmly for a bit (with ears pricked alert for danger) to make sure she was still listening to me. She was awesome until we got back out into the field and the neighbor kids came tearing down the road on their dirt bikes. Now, Catlow is not afraid of these; they routinely go tearing by her pasture, but she was out in the open in the field and away from the safety of other horses, so she did get a little hyped up, and upset at me continuously moving her one way with bit pressure, then the other way. She was really chewing and gaping at the bit...obviously upset, so I flexed her and yielded her hindquarters (we spun around and around alot even after I stopped cueing!), and as soon as she stopped and flexed we did it the other way, then backed up, then stood still for a bit, then walked on...and that seemed to reset her a bit...she still just wanted to go home, and we did, but she was back under control and not thinking about panicking. Once we got back out on the blacktop, she was incredibly calm, and we continued back home. Then I yelled for Todd to come out and document Catlow's first trail ride.
I am so excited that I actually was able to ride her out. I didn't think I'd feel she was ready for that for a LOOONG time. My goal was to ride her by herself on the trail by summertime, and I just accomplished that today! She can only improve now. I'm also glad that her first ride out was by herself because it gave both of us more confidence, and now I know that she does trust me, so it will be that much easier when I ride with other horses.
So, I just accomplished the big goal I had for this spring. Now I need to reset my goal. I plan to take Catlow to Katie Whetzel's horsemanship clinic on May 3rd (I think Todd can take me with the trailer). I have yet to get a good canter out of her with me on her back (round pen is hard to keep her going), and at Katie's clinic, I can do that in the safety of an arena and under the watchful eyes of an experienced person.