Sunday, April 12, 2009

Western At An Arena

(Turbo at the outdoor tying station near the round-pens)

My two friends that have been boarding at my house moved their horses to a boarding barn across the highway that has a giant outdoor arena, an indoor/heated/sandy-footing arena, two round-pens, a hot walker, and a warm-water boath station. So, Friday they spent the morning moving all their tack from my tack-room and their horses to the new barn. In the afternoon, they came back and picked up me and Dazzle to come see the new digs.

Dazzle was upset that she couldn't see her friends and screamed like an idiot. I put her in the roundpen and she was happy there as she could see her buddies. I round-penned her a little. She was quite distracted, but walk/trot/cantered both ways. Ali and Melissa had round-penned Bayberry and Flash also, and then put them on the hot-walker. Bayberry went on first. She is an ex-racer so we guess she probably had been on one before. She put her head down and plodded along like nothing. Then, Ali added Flash. He tried walking on it backwards. Then he figure it out and followed Bayberry. Last, I added Dazzle. She waited until the rope pulled her, then trotted and stopped. Pull-trot-stop-pull-trot-stop. She finally figured out if she just walked out it didn't pull on her. Then she figured out if you stop and mule-stance against the rope the whole hot-walker stops moving. I yelled at her to walk and she gave me a You're-No-Fun look and started walking again.

After the hot-walker lesson Ali and Melissa hosed off their horses and tied them to dry in the sun. I tacked up Dazzle back at the trailer where my stuff was and she was not pleased to be out of sight from Turbo, Bayberry and Flash. She screamed, dug in the gravel, and finally reared. I yelled at her to knock it off. When I had her tacked up I had a moment of fear where I considered asking Ali to get on first, then decided she'd be fine once she saw her friends.

I lead her to where the others were tied up and she settled right down. I put on the bridle and my helmet and got on. She stood just fine. We went to the gate of the outdoor arena and opened it. The noise of the noble paneling scared her at first, but I assured her it was just a gate and we were able to finish opening it. Once in the arena she was great. I had a curb bit with a jointed mouthpiece and a fairly short shank. She had never been in one before. I was able to ride on a loose rein just fine. We jogged, whoa'd, turned on the haunch and forehand, jog-cantered, canter-whoa'd, everything I could think of. She took the correct lead even on the rail all but one time. She took her RIGHT lead when I asked for the LEFT. That never happens. We only rode about 15 minutes, but she was really good and it was hot and we were both sweaty, so I called it good. We opened and close the gate again going out and I took her back and untacked. She was again unhappy to be on the wrong side of the barn.

I took her inside the barn to the wash stall. She stepped in, heard the drain gurgle and backed out. She refused to go back in. The stall is plenty big enough to walk in, turn around to face out, and be put on the cross-ties, but she'd have nothing to do with that. So, I hosed the side she had half-way in and then that distracted her enough when I asked her to turn so I could do the other side she walked right in. I just held her as I figured being in the stall was progress and she's never been in cross-ties before. We'll try that again next time. After that she stood in the sun with Turbo and Flash while I took pictures of Melissa riding Bayberry. She was dry within half and hour and ready to go home.

It was a great ride and made me think that maybe by the end of the summer we might actually be able to compete in open schooling shows and have a shot at placing in western. Very encouraging.

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