The rain is falling, the wind is blowing, but Mother Nature be damned! I was going to get the first ride over with today! No excuses, just results.
I saddled Kenya up in the barn. Saddling has become a non-event, which always starts us off on the right foot. Then off to the arena, and into the round pen.
I spent plenty of time just trotting her in the round pen. I wanted to be certain that her mind was in the right place, and wear down any excess energy she had. She was being a little stubborn at first, turning to the outside, which is verboten. After a few gentle reminders she "remembered" how this is done, and all was well.
I like this picture of today's action in the round pen:
Notice that I'm standing, and she is trotting. It wasn't like this in the early days. It was as much a workout for me as for Kenya. Now that we have refined the process, I spend much more time standing.
At this point I was satisfied that her attention was on me, and that she wasn't distracted or feeling skittish about anything. It was now or never. I put the training hackamore on her head, and readjusted my cinch. It was decided that I would using a mounting block to get on, just to keep things simple. I stood up on the block next to her, banged my hand on the saddle a few times, and then leaned over across the saddle so she could see me from her right eye. Not a flinch. Without further adieu, I put my right leg over, sat down, and put my feet in the stirrups.
With the aid of my trusty assistant, Mrs. BR, we immediately began working on one rein stops. This is accomplished by pulling the horse's nose around to your foot, and putting pressure against their ribcage, such that one back leg crosses over in front of the other. When a horse is forced to do this, they can't buck, rear, run, or present any other bad behavior (hopefully!). They can only turn in a circle. This is a safety technique. At this point she is still yielding to the pressure from the stick, but by adding leg pressure, she should start associating that with the need to disengage her hindquarters.
About halfway through the maneuver:
At this point it was time to move on to walking and trotting. Again, she is still responding to the cues from the person on the ground, and I am, in essence, little more than a passenger. I am, of course, adding the verbal cue of clucking and applying leg pressure when I want her to move. This begins the transition into responding to the rider.
At the walk:
I'll admit I was a bit tense at first, but I relaxed pretty quickly. We progressed to the trot in short order. Occasionally she would just stop. The first few times I was caught off guard, and thrown forward in the saddle, but that was a case of me not being prepared. Her trot is a wee bit rough, and my back is a tad sore right now. Admittedly, few horses have a smooth trot, but Kenya definitely has room for refinement.
I did notice in the above picture that my legs are too far back. I need to raise the stirrups a little, and concentrate on keeping my feet forward.
At this point, Mrs. BR suggested that it was time to call it a good first ride. Giving in to reason, I dismounted. I could not be happier with today's results. Better than I could have hoped for.
There is a horse show tomorrow, so I think it will probably be Tuesday before I can put in a second ride, although I'm hoping I might be able to squeeze it in tomorrow evening, depending what time we get home. I'll keep you posted.
A friend video taped the event. She's going to burn it to a CD for me. Once I have that, I'll post some portions of it.
Sorry for the long winded entry.