Saturday, March 14, 2009

First Ride!

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.


Ann from Montana said...

Yee Haw!!!! Most excellent!

While not a rider or trainer, I have benefited from video of me doing a variety of "sporting" things - always helps to see oneself "in action".

Great first ride - glad all went so well.

Andy said...

Well done, and good thing you squeezed it in yesterday. I don't know how things are down there, but it's snowing something fierce in the city right now.

Buck said...

I could not be happier with today's results. Better than I could have hoped for.

VERY cool! I really enjoyed the photos, BR, and am looking forward to the video. Your weather looked cold and damp, but your spirits (and Kenya's) were obviously anything BUT!

I don't think this post was long-winded at all. It was just right, from my admittedly non-professional POV. Well done. Ooops... I meant BZ, of course. :D

Daphne said...

Loved the pictures.

I'm glad to hear your first ride went well, Buckskin!

Christina LMT said...


Kudos to all three of you, and though I bet it was tough to stop when you did, I'm positive you did the right thing. It's the whole "quit while you're ahead" thing, right?
Great pictures and I'm looking forward to the video.

Laura said...


Buckskins Rule said...

Thanks everyone!

Andy: It only snowed briefly here, in the morning, but the rest of the day was miserable, so I was definitely glad I got this taken care of on Saturday.

Christina: It was most certainly a "quit while you are ahead" moment. I certainly thought about going on for awhile longer, but I'm glad things ended when they did, and the way they did.

Bag Blog said...

Congrats! All your hard work and patience has paid off. Back in the 90's we attended several horse clinics put on by a guy named Marty Martin out of CO. He was a Pat Parelli student, which sounds very much like the training you are doing on your horses. I googled Marty, but did not come up with anything. Parelli, of course, is quite famous.

Michelle H. said...

On the contrary, I don't think this post was long winded at all. It's great to find out the machinations of riding and training horses. Marvelous pictures and glad everything went well.

alison said...

Congratulations that's fantastic!