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September 17, 2014: Lessons Learned: Pre birthday Ride

Last night, a wonderful evening. Seeing as it was the eve of my birthday, Pete had earlier offered to pay for a lesson at the Sindorf Center. As it turned out, Beth’s arena was somewhat dry, at least dry enough for the first group’s lesson. She said in a text message that there would be no second group lesson because the ground was too wet for jumping. Instead, we’d go for a trail ride.

Seeing as there was to be a trail ride, we took Hrimmi and Tinni along so they could also participate. The arena session subsequently began with me first walking Raudi around the arena, both ways, and around the obstacles. Raudi was calm,

somewhat focused, her buddies being at the distance. And she remained calm when Vickie pulled in – her trailer contained her new horse June Bug Carter and Hunar. When they passed, both Hunar and Raudi whinnied to one another. I refocused Raudi, by having her practice side passing along the fence.

I mounted up and then did a short warmup, walking and trotting both around the obstacles, some of which included cones, jumps stands, puddles, and ground poles. Finally, Beth and a new rider, Jerry Anne, entered the arena. Jerry Anne rode Sunny, Beth’s steady eddy horse. Raudi and I listened and then practiced mane holds and high and low rein positions. Jerry Anne and I then rode in circles, first over ground poles and then over a ground pole and a low cavalletti. We did this at the walk – because Sunny was slow, Raudi and I went to the outside and did this at the trot. Her trot has been bobbly lately – I’m hoping that an upcoming hoof trim will take care of this problem.

Vickie then entered the arena with June Bug Carter. She did not appear to be the same horse she was a few days previously. That horse crow hopped, reared, and threw in a few bucks for good measure. This horse was not collected, but she was relatively calm and well mannered. And she seemed to know where her feet were, as is evidenced by the fact that she trotted nicely over the ground poles.

We finished up and Raudi and I returned to where Pete was getting Tinni and Hrimmi ready for the trail ride. In the meantime, Beth and her other students put their tacked up horses in the arena, where they blew off steam. Big horses, a thundering mass. I was glad to be on the far side of the arena fence. And I was glad that earlier, Raudi and I had gone for an uneventful solo trail ride.

I was not fearful about doing this ride, but I was a bit concerned about how the ride might go, knowing that Beth’s horses are more arena than trail savvy. I needn’t have worried. All the horses, including ours, did just fine. Pete ponied Hrimmi, who walked nicely beside Tinni the entire way, the pair, together splashing through the innumerable puddles. I had Raudi follow directly behind Hrimmi, a situation she doesn’t like, but will put up with.

We eventually came to an airport runway, and here Beth suggested we trot. Vickie and Hunar, parallel to Raudi and me, immediately took off. I then saw Hunar give Raudi the eye. Quite clearly, he was saying, “hey honey, let’s go.” Raudi, being Raudi was up for the challenge. She bolted and I somehow got her back down to a walk.

We then all walked, side by side, down the gravel runway. Raudi remained nicely forward the entire time, going at a fast walk on a loose rein. It was then that I knew that things were fine and were going to remain just fine. This was affirmed when at the turnoff back onto the trail, an airplane, coming in for a landing, flew directly overhead. As Pete later said, had we been a minute or two slower, we would have had problems.

Once again on the trail, Pete took the lead for a bit. Then Raudi and I voluntarily took the lead. She was attentive, alert, and again forward, but not unnecessarily so. I could tell that she was pleased to be out front. It occurred to me that she didn’t used to be this way. At one time when she was on group rides, she was the sluggish horse who pinned her ears back and paced the entire time.

It also occurred to me that I too had come a long ways in a short period of time. I used to be the group’s white knuckle rider who rode in the rear, and because I was so fearful, I spent the entire ride time being hyper conscious about my horse’s every move. Not this time. Pete announced that the following day was my birthday. I responded that because it was such, that I got to sing a song. And so, I sang “I’ve been Working in the Barnyard.” Raudi, listening to the top tune in what I call “Raudi’s Greatest Hits,” flicked her ears back and forth.

It was near dark (streetlights were on) when we got back to Beth’s place. I tied Raudi to the trailer, sought out Beth, and asked her how much Pete and I owed her. She replied “No charge. We were just having fun tonight.” My response was “Oh, so we pay when we’re not having fun.”

On the drive home, I again thought about how far Raudi and I have come. This day was a case in point. Raudi and I went for a solo, early morning trail ride, did arena work, and then went for an evening trail ride. She is obviously now my number one riding horse.

Next: 249. 9/18/14: Post Birthday Blues