On Saturday I had quite the ride on my Hola! It was a beautiful crisp day and I was just dying to ride! We didn't have time to haul out to an arena and I was feeling a little hemmed in by the idea of riding in the paddock as the footing and size make it difficult for Hola to walk out without having to be guided every ten strides as we come up against another corner. I was lamenting about how to put together the best ride when Laurie ever so casually suggested I ride her out in the big field. I don't even think I replied at first, I just stared at her like, "Yah, that's not going to happen." The big field is... big. It has no fences. It has no obstacles. It is just acre after acre of grass. Which is kind of terrifying on a young horse. Laurie, being the good friend that she is, didnt hesitate to kick my ass a little. She has so much more confidence in Hola and I than I do. I said I would start by walking her out in hand and then see how she felt. When I got in to the field I was happy to find that the ground was actually pretty firm and that Hola was very tuned in. I was having her jog around me in small circles, turning her back each way and she was just a little jacked but moving her feet nicely. I could see Laurie sneaking a glace every so often to see when I was going to nut up. Finally she walked over and asked what I was going to do. I said, "I don't think it is a good idea, it just doesn't feel safe. I want her to have the chance to just walk out but this is too big of a leap, too quick." So Laurie asked why I was so worried about the open space. I explained that the biggest fear I have is getting hung up and drug. I have had both happen and walked away relatively unscathed (skinned my back and got stepped on a few times.) However I have seen a few people get hung up over the years and there is just nothing scarier. That is why I feel better in the smaller areas. I am not so scared of falling off, I am just scared of not falling ALL THE WAY off. And being in that open space where there is noting to stop that horse should the worst happen is way out of my comfort zone. However...
Sometimes you have to feel the fear and just do it anyways.
I got on Hola. I was more nervous than I have ever been on her and she sure felt it. For the first five minutes of so she was pretty jacked and I kept having to bend her around and send her off again. I loved that I was able to just ask her to go forward without having to be so in her face. I went maybe five minutes or so down the field away from the barn and then turned for home. I was a little apprehensive about how she would react to heading back but actually she seemed to relax some which helped me relax which helped her relax and so on. I really wanted to get off as I felt that I had cleared that hurdle and wanted to quit before it went wrong but I forced myself to stay on until I really felt that we were back in sync and we were both relaxed. Once I made that decision I was surprised at how quickly we achieved that goal. She is so sensitive to my energy that even though I thought that I had relaxed considerably she still felt that I was anxious to quit. The biggest mistake I made was that when I got off I was so excited I "whooped" as my feet hit the ground which spooked her a little. It was SO cool and SO exciting and SO rewarding to finally be out on her.
The next day I really wanted to get on her back in the arena and soften some of the guide I had lost the day before with my nerves. I did a lot of vertical and lateral flexion and asked her to yield her hip. It was actually a good thing that I went back to this as she was really sticky at first. I got her much lighter and then asked her to guide around again a little in a circle and she went beautifully. I stopped her, dropped her saddle and turned her loose.
So today I was really curious to see how much she had retained from the day before and was pleasantly surprised, as I so often am with this filly. She yielded nicely and remembered all of it but most importantly she spent a lot of time licking and chewing and yawning. She obviously was thinking hard about this new life of hers. All of that pissy attitude I was so worried about has completely disappeared now that I have this big saddle on her. I am just thrilled with my good little filly.