After Dandy got his first ride, we had to leave for a few days. Upon returning, we yet had to face our first lope. He had felt very mellow and relaxed on the first ride, and I regretted not taking this opportunity to test all three gaits, but that’s the way it went, and we still had that on our plate. Here’s a brief summary of the following rides :
Ride 2 : Suddently facing a bridling and saddling issue. Oops, must have gone a bit fast with that, now will have to go back and make it right. Chose to ride anyway (in the round pen). Horses in the large arena and nearby paddocks. Distracted and somewhat worried, “grabbed his ass” a bunch of time, I forgot about loping, tried to get some good laps at the trot, and found a reasonably good place to start.
Ride 3 : Went back the next day, hoping to get a better shot at loping. Indeed, no horses in the arena (us still in the round pen), nice and forward yet relaxed at the trot, so I grabbed the saddle horn (just in case), and kissed, put a little leg, and off we went, at a very nice lope. No rushing, no panic, just loping around. Didn’t keep it up a lot at first, but went right back to it when I asked again. Bent him to a stop in both directions and called it a day; very pleased.
Ride 4 : the tractor episode. OMG, I still laugh when I think back on it today. Ok, this is my 4th ride, so I’m not all that confident at all, and the horse is still totally green. About two minutes after I got on, an old farmer shows up on an older yet sort of lowish tractor, and starts working on the patch of earth that nearly *touches* the round pen, on his old rackety and coughing, stinky machine, that is so loud I can hardly hear the friend who’s videotaping ! At first I’m in disbelief, like he’s gonna go away in a minute, but the man worked his damn tractor right next to us for the next twenty-five effing minutes ! Of course Dandy was super unsure first, then annoyed about it, and there was some ass-grabbing going on more than one occasion. At some point I thought he was going to lose the plot entirely. All I could do was flex him to a stop and keep him flexed until he showed at least a split second of softening. Which I did, over and again. Miraculously, we went through this unscathed. Not so one of the older horses that was being ridden, much father away from the tractor, I learned later that he’d dumped his rider ! My friend Steph kept on taping the entire time, so here is the beginning of the session, you can actually hear the hellish thing coming in…
After 25 excruciating minutes, with added distractions I didn’t even mention, the old farmer left, most of the horses in the nearby arena were done, and the horses in the outdoor paddocks went back inside the barn. Quiet descended upon us, and I blew a big sigh of relief (so did the horse, several times). I was still a bit rattled about it all, and unsure about loping, but the previous session had gone so well that I took a chance at it anyway. The video you’ll see has been swapped. The left hand canter that is going well actually happened *after* the right hand laps were you’ll see he grabbed his ass big time on the first departure. The more he loped, the smoother he became. I’m pleased to report we have loped many times since, and the ass grabbing episode did not repeat.
Ride 5 : a little unsure as time flies, and we’ve been riding a bunch of times since, but memory serving me well, the fifth ride happened in the big arena, and in presence of another horse, to boot ! I was doing a bunch of groundwork, with the saddle on, and at some point the time seemed good to just step on. Of course I had about zero steering so I tried to stay away from the other horse by bending into some circles, while keeping some forward. I only walked and trotted, and the following ride was in the round pen again (I think), but from the one after that, it was all in the big arena (which doesn’t mean we won’t revisit the round pen in the future, actually it’ll probably happen very soon).
Dandy around this same period, dealing with his saddle issue… stay tuned for the current state of affairs !