Evaluating the Past Riding Season and Setting New Goals

With the change of seasons it is time for me to reflect on the past few months and think about what I would like to do during the winter months. Think about what my horse is telling me that we should work on.

We made some strides forward and experienced one issue which makes this past riding season pretty normal. My first thought, when I reflect back, is how can it be over all ready! It seems like we just went out for our first ride of the season! Right from the first ride I could tell he was becoming a more experienced trail horse. We are both more relaxed and enjoy our rides. He doesn’t worry about dogs attacking him and when something does surprise him he spooks in place instead of the spin and run!

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Thinking about all of the places we rode this summer, two parks were new to Tez, Zumbro Bottoms and Lake Elmo Park Reserve. I had ridden them before with Sahmira but it had been a long time since I had been at Zumbro Bottoms. We also rode at our usual places which include Murphy Hanerhan, Lebanon Hills, UMore, Wilderness County Park, Crow Hassen, Hay Creek and Fort Ridgely. I think that is most of the places for this season. It is pleasant to think back to all of the rides. One place we didn’t get to this season was riding along the Minnesota River in Jordan due to the rain we had in September. Hopefully that area will be fixed up for next year.

We also participated in two clinics at Liz Graves where we worked on control of our horses body such as shoulder in, and bending in the rib cage. Making sure that you keep your body soft and straight while asking for these manuevers. We worked on building a better relationship/rapport with our horse by thinking “we” not “me’ and changing our vocabulary as I discussed in a previous post.

I was disappointed in our Limited Distance Ride at Fort Ridgely but became more aware as a result of the experience. Initially I was confused and disappointed in our ride and Tez’ behavior, I rode through his antics which was a confidence booster for me but after the fact I realized he was acting the way he did because he was out of alignment and needed a chiropractic adjustment. At the beginning of the ride I thought his action were because he was excited and they may well have been. It also may have been what caused his problem. The second loop was the part that confused me as I expected him to settle down to business like he had done in past rides. I finally did get off of him and walk him in. I finally figured out he had a problem the next time I rode him out on the trail in a relaxed atmosphere and he bucked repeatedly. OK, now I understood that there was a problem and I had to go through the list in my head. Could it be his teeth, was he off, he didn’t feel lame, or was he out of adjustment. I had a different saddle on him, and had Liz Graves check that for me, so I knew that it wasn’t saddle fit. As I said, I am more aware now. It is all about me learning and Tez is a great teacher!

This coming winter I am going to work on building our rapport, working together. I am going to think “we” not “me”. We are going to go on walks together, spend time together without working, without trying to accomplish too much, spend time together and hopefully he will want to spend time with me. This will also gives us some much needed exercise and keep us at least partially in shape over the winter. I would like to lose about 10 pounds and that will help me be a better rider for him. I really want to build a partnership with him.

I am also going to take a few lessons this winter to improve my level of riding. I haven’t taken lessons for a couple of years now and I have really stalled out. If we make some progress on our goals this winter we will have that much more fun next summer out on the trails! And that is what riding is all about for me, enjoying nature with my horsey companion and hoping that he feels the same way!

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