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[Riding] Rodeo Roman, Trail Rides (and signings)

NOTE: My riding posts are actually originally written for the discuss.horses group over on SFF.net (the online home of SFWA). I repost them here in LJ 'cause I know folks like to read them. Usually, I try to re-edit the posts before reposting to remove any SFF.net specific stuff and suchnot, but tonight it's late and I'm too tired. All you should need for context in this case is that one of the most active posters on discuss.horses is Elizabeth Moon.

I was bad; I didn't post last week. Alas, I've been kind of swamped. But I'll post about last week /and/ this week! Tada. Of course, not a terribly large amount to write about this week...

Last week, I was on Roman, but Roman was in a Mood. We got moving quickly enough, though he just didn't want to keep going and would stop whenever possible. Normal enough behavior for Roman, of course, but he was a bit more insistent.

I got to spend my time focusing on 'ride another lap at two point... okay, now do this lap up-up-down... okay, next one down-down-up...' and other general balance and seat exercises. My classmate was focusing on learning diagonals, and I got to play demonstration again for part of the lesson. After riding a number of laps in both directions at two point and up-up-down, and down-down-up, I took a break for five minutes while she focused on my classmate. Then it was time to try cantering.

I got a good canter out of Roman, but then he just decided he had really Had Enough, and did not want to move. Prod. No, I'll walk. Prod. Fine, I'll trot. I'll trot REALLY FAST, but I refuse to canter. So I tapped him with the dressage whip.

Roman had, at this point, had quite enough. He bucked. Now, I've gotten to the point where when Roman does his little skip-and-jump bucks to express 'I am not thrilled with this,' I stay seated. Roman clearly expected me to stay seated, but I didn't; we were moving too fast, as he'd never done this at such a speed before, and I began to slide out of my saddle.

I actually started to pull myself back up, which I was proud of... but then I saw where we were going. We were right along the arena wall, and just ahead was the gate into the spare stalls. With the (unfastened) padlock fixture sticking out right in line with my shoulder. I realized there was no way I could pull myself up in time, and tried to go limp. A moment later, wham, into the padlock fixture!

I found myself on the ground, and Roman took off around the ring. He stopped after half a lap, and let the instructor on him with a rather terrified 'oh, god, I didn't mean to actually knock her OFF' expression. The instructor got on and rode him a lap, though he was kind of skittery and kept looking over at me. When he was led back, he nuzzled my shoulder in a sort of 'oh god oh god I'm sorry PLEASE still give me treats afterwards?' manner.

I did get back up, and got a perfect canter transition out of him after that. I guess he wasn't in the mood to argue the point on cues anymore! Didn't really keep trying much longer, though; my arm was scraped and bruised, and I figured I'd stiffen up. And it was pretty much the end of the lesson time anyway.

I groomed him, cleaned his tack, and still gave him the treats; I am such a sucker.

This past weekend, I went to the tack shop and picked up some new brushes, my own dressage whip (Edward Goddard! And it's a prettypretty blue), and a new bounce pad for Roman since his old pad is... well, a disaster. Brought them into the stables (and took the puppy along). Visited with many horses, shared some of the pony donuts I'd bought (molasses, oat, cornmeal, etc.)

This week I had something after the riding lesson to get to, and carpooled with a friend. Since it was so lovely out, it turned out we were going on a trail ride through Bridle Trails, which I hadn't done since about last August. It was my classmate's first time riding outside of the ring, and he was kind of nervous; backed off to let me mount up on the outside mounting block first (meanwhile, I got to wrestle Roman away from the grass), and then had issues with feeling secure on the horse while we walked them on gravel. I ended up most of the way to the park, walking in circles while I waited for him to catch up.

Once in the park, the trails were pleasant. Roman, of course, as usual felt it manifestly unfair that I was walking him through a giant salad bar and not letting him snack. ("Eating ferns while you have a bit in your mouth is BAD, doofus!") We made a long circuit, we two students and the instructor just talking. None of the ride was particularly unusual to me; I've done enough trail riding that it wasn't new, and I even knew the route.

Still, it was lovely, the birds were singing, it was warm, and I /did/ notice one thing. Before, my leg position could've been better and more secure, and I always felt uneasy and unsteady going down hills. (A problem I noticed my classmate had.) My leg position has improved markedly since last August (heck, since January), and now I went down the slopes of the trail without feeling at all unsteady. That was a nice change.

When we returned to the stables (a bit earlier than our lesson would usually end), my classmate commented it was the most fun he'd had on a horse, despite his initial misgivings. I groomed Roman -- and gave him some thrushbuster (he'd already been bleach-watered by someone else), since alas, he has That Smell to one hoof, though no visible thrush -- and cleaned up tack. Fed everyone, in a bit more of a hurry than usual, and made it out of the stables earlier than usual.

We were stuck in traffic on the bridge on the way back, but still made it to the U Bookstore not too terribly late. And there, of course, I met up with our own Elizabeth (who says to say hi to everyone, and will be home soon enough). I arrived in line, presented books for signing and two boxes of local chocolates (not for signing), and I think the first thing she asked me was, "So, how was he this week?"

Forget the books, let's talk horses! ;)

Stuck around for a while after the main signing to talk a bit longer. It was nice to finally meet Elizabeth in person, and -- of course -- to discuss horses. When she finished signing stock, we all went our separate ways.

Tomorrow evening, I leave to head off to Canada, whee!
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Comments

I had wondered what happened when you mentioned being bucked off last week. Now I know.. and I'd love to have a lesson in reading horse expressions someday! :)
As the friend Rachel carpooled with yesterday, it was surprising to me how well Roman matched her descriptions of him and his behavior. He really does roll his eys and sigh like an aggrieved child when he's not getting what he wants, and he's every inch the drama queen she's written he is.

And she's right, she's a total sucker, and Roman knows it.