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JR Session 17; Wizard Ride 61: Give, Give, Give

March 22, 2009

Wizard

Saturday, 3/21/09

On Saturday, we had beautiful, gorgeously gorgeous weather. I longed JR for about 15 minutes in the dressage court and then we went for a hand walk on the trails with Mary the Morgan and her owner. Both horses were fantastic. When my saddle is adjusted, I plan to start taking JR under saddle on the trails.

I let JR have a bit of grazing, groomed him, and he ate his dinner. I rode Wizard outdoors. There was a riding lesson in the arena near the gate, so I rode Wizard at the far end while my friend rode Mary the Morgan. I’ve ridden Wizard outside a few times, but always at the end by the gate/barn and only light work of walking a bit of trotting. Today was a big test, since there were a lot of trailers pulling in and out, horses entering and leaving the arena, and we were at the end closest to the woods and away from the barn.

I started the session by longeing him. He was fine to the left but got nervous when he longed to the right. He stopped about 5 or 6 times. As far as I can tell, it’s a combination of avoidance, distraction, and a little stress. It’s his peaceful protest. As soon as he longed clockwise to my liking, I hopped on and rode. He’s gotten much better at the mounting block, by the way. I fixed the budding issue by giving him a peppermint when he’s standing still, and simple repetition.

I walked Wizard in both directions. I could tell that he was nervous by the way he was playing with the bit and scrunching up his neck. When I asked for a trot, he bounced, wiggled, and further scrunched his neck. He listened to me, but was completely off my leg and hands. We tinkered with it a few times- he continued fiddling with the bit and tried to bounce into a canter a few times. He also ducked his head verrrrry low, not in a productive way, but in a nervous and evasive way. I thought to myself, “Wow, we have not had a ‘bad ride’ in a verrrry long time. I guess I’ll do my best to end on a good note.” Sigh.

The riding lesson ended and we moved our horses out of our little corner and used the rest of the ring. Then, a funny thing happened. I kept riding. And we had a good ride.

I channeled my inner Walter Zettl and every time I felt my hands grabbing to steady Wizard, I said to myself, “Give”. And I gave instead of taking. And when Wizard felt tight, I said to myself, “Keep riding”. I went over my mental checklist repeatedly, kept riding, and gave, gave, gave. Wizard settled after about 10 or 15 minutes and began to seek contact with the bit. He began to relax his topline. I gave. He began to relax his trot and move more fluidly. I kept riding. I rode for a total of about 30 minutes. It went from ugly to reasonably pretty with a little hard work and a little faith in the horse :^)

When we were done, I let Wizard graze for a little while. There were about ten cows at the barn for Saturday night team sorting so I led Wizard in the arena and let him see the cows. From what I was told, Wizard has actually done team sorting once before. He went right up to the cows and sniffed noses with one of them! Perhaps if hunter/jumpers are not his cup of tea, he’ll be a good cow horse.

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