I’ve now gotten three rides under my belt since starting the challenge and Comfort is still being pretty consistent about being brought in from the field. I am pretty excited about it! I have been making two sacrifices, though. First, I am not mounting from the mounting block when I don’t have a buddy on the ground. Second, I am not letting Comfort sniff the saddle. Since getting Comfort, I’ve had a pretty firm philosophy that her sniffing the saddle is her giving me permission to ride her, which trainer bestie told me about and I really liked. Lately, if I try to let her sniff the saddle, it just gives her a lot of time to think and wonder and possibly worry or even feel like I’m chasing her with it. I’ve decided to let her sniff the pad and get going. Otherwise, she has way too much time to start getting weird on me. I’d really like to go back to doing that, though.
Improvement with mounting! Even though Comfort isn’t really improving with the part where I get on her, the part immediately after has improved dramatically! Usually Comfort always walks off when I get on. The last two rides, she’s stood quietly and waited for me to tell her to go forward. I am QUITE excited! I consider that a win even if she doesn’t have all the pieces together, yet.
My last lesson, Comfort and I had a little incident and I fell off. She and I were having a PERFECT ride and we were trotting around the corner when she suddenly did this weird left right left lightening dance move all in .5 milliseconds, and I came off. I really don’t know what happened. My friend says maybe she got worried about how well the ride was going and freaked out. My instructor says she’s a pony and that stuff just happens with them, and I’ve got to stay vigilant. I know Comfort isn’t mean. I am just really unsure what that was about. I didn’t see anything she could have spooked at and neither did my instructor. Whatever the cause, I don’t think I made it happen, but I do think I made it worse by coming off. Sometimes, it’s just out of your control. I need to be prepared for it to happen and be balanced when it does but not anticipate it happening and make her nervous. It’s hard for anyone to stay balanced on Comfort, and I’ve been getting a lot of “you have really good balance” from friends and my instructor, lately, so I think I’m definitely improving, even if I don’t personally see it. The only indicator I have is when I get on other horses. I think – gosh this is easy! I really don’t feel like I’m going to come off at all! Even if a horse took off with me, I’d feel super stable up there. There’s so much more horse to wrap yourself around.
My instructor told me that at the rate we are going, I’m really going to feel great about where we end up by the end of the summer. I hope she’s right. That would be so exciting. I feel like we are really making good progress! I know falling off sounds bad, but other than being embarrassed, I really didn’t care. I felt like it was an extremely successful lesson with Comfort offering things on her own that completely exceeded my expectations and overcoming things that have traditionally been hard for her. I’m really proud of how she did!
Oh and on our second ride she improved on a difficulty she had in the last lesson and also put the bit in her mouth all on her own! One point for bridling! She was a little stiff, worried, forward, and distracted, but she tried SO hard for me. It was late, it was about to rain, the horses were being turned out left and right, the humans all left. I mean… I’d be stressed out too! Despite her feeling this way, she really tried to do her best for me. We did some great lunge work and I felt good about the ride.
So, a quick overview!
Bridling wasn’t on the graph, nor was standing after mounting, so I’m pretty excited to be making new headway and not just getting better at the same old stuff, although some of that has been improving, too, yay! The only thing we haven’t started with is standing quietly at the mounting block for mounting (which she used to do, but I am not going to get sad about it, I just need to keep moving forward). I feel good about the progress we are making, especially since the thing that is working out best is the most foundational – getting her from the pasture. This makes me feel like every day as we work on all these little things, she actually wants to do it and be with me which has probably been the most meaningful thing I’ve gotten out of the challenge so far.
Just as a visual to see where we’ve been I thought I’d include some previous graphs.
Last time I checked in on the left and the time before that on the right.
Well that’s it! Next I’ll have a relaxed day with no riding. Just some basic leading practice and some standing still and doing nothing practice. Maybe I’ll practice some other stuff too like a quick lunge to work on downward transitions. We shall see. Until then!