Sunday, March 14, 2010

wild mustangs and spooky horses

I don't think my Enbrel is working very well as far as my arthritis goes. I haven't been able to take it consistently for a few months because of so many illnesses and I'm starting to feel it. I'm not doing as badly as I was before I was on any medication, but I've been having trouble sleeping because my shoulders, elbows and hands ache so much. Gah. It's very frustrating but I guess in the grand scheme of things if this is the worst of it I've still got it pretty good. I can still knit and walk and those were things I couldn't do very well (if at all) pre-medication three years ago.

I had a riding lesson scheduled yesterday but I was too exhausted and achy so I asked if my daughter, EJ could take a lesson in my place. My instructor was dubious because Doc, the beginners horse is lame right now from founder and she as rule usually doesn't teach kids until they are 8 years old and my daughter just turned 6 years old. But she's been going on lots of lead line rides on my horse, Girlfriend and she had a riding lesson in New Orleans when she was 5 years old. So they gave it a try.

I was really proud of EJ. She rode Oh No, who I think I mentioned before has a tendency to fall asleep in the arena. And he's really big and that makes EJ nervous. Doc is under 15 hands and shorter than my horse whereas Oh No must be almost 16 hands. But my instructor had him on the lunge line and he listens to her. I've never actually seen a horse who doesn't listen to her. I stood outside the arena with another girl, Megan who boards her horse there and a mother of another student. Megan kept muttering, "Oooh ... good job. Oooh ... look at that. Very good!" which was making me glow with pride. I actually thought she did very too and paid attention really well for a 6 year old. I think she's a little too young to focus consistently for regular lessons yet but I was proud of how well she did for such a little girl. She's got a natural feel for posting and seems to have already started to develop a good seat. She looks very secure up there, not sliding around like some of the very beginner kids.

Speaking of a good seat, I still have grand aspirations to have a good seat although I know it just takes time. I can tell my seat is a lot better than it was just a year ago. I'm not feeling like I'm losing my balance as easily and getting more confident. Although I rode Girlfriend briefly after EJ's lesson until she started to spook because Megan was lunging her new horse, Atlas and he was acting up a bit and she would crack the lunge whip to get his attention and it was freaking Girlfriend out.

I never did figure out if it was because Atlas was being erratic or if it was the sound of the lunge whip cracking. I got the feeling that it was the sound of the lunge whip because her body would go into "flight mode". I'm guessing that when she was being trained for gaming that the trainer would crack the whip like that as an indicator she should go faster and because she rarely hears that sound it was instinctually priming her to gallop despite that I was holding her back. Although, initially it was because Atlas tried to gallop off away from Megan for a moment. Girlfriend did her little jump in place then danced her way into the corner with her head facing the corner which is her M.O. for "I am spooked". So, I got off of her and walked her around for awhile and waited until Megan had Atlas walking before I got back on her.

Five months ago Atlas was a wild mustang on the BLM land so the fact that he is already so well trained is pretty amazing to me. That he will walk, trot and canter for the most part quietly around Megan with a saddle on his back is impressive to me. He seems like a very sweet horse but he obviously has a wild streak. I like it because his wild streak feels to me a lot like Girlfriend's hot spirit.

Later in the afternoon I went back in the arena to talk to my instructor while she was helping Megan lunge Atlas and my instructor said, "Get his attention. He's focused on the new person who walked in the arena and he needs to stay focused on you." I looked over at him and sure enough he was staring right at me. I could almost hear his thoughts, "Are you a wolf?" I've never seen a horse look at me like that and I couldn't stop looking a him because it was such a different look in his eyes than I ever seen from my lifetime of only knowing domestic horses. I'm pretty excited about him being at the stable and getting to watch him as he is trained.

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