Finally, finally, we can ride again now that the rain has stopped, and I’ve ridden a few times this week, just flatting and getting back into a program. Last night when I pulled Val out of his pasture, my usually exuberantly friendly and happy horse was just kind of…dull and even a little cranky. Even though I sometimes get a little sass from him, this was a bit different. He definitely wasn’t colicky or anything, but he just wasn’t feeling like himself. So I scrapped my original plan, which was to school over some small jumps and really work on our canter between fences, and planned to just putter around and do whatever it felt like Val was game for.
I didn’t even put my spurs on.
Walking out to the mounting box I had more of the same mopiness, and I let him just wander around the arena at a walk on the buckle for a bit before I picked up a trot. I actually had to cowboy kick a few times just to keep him trotting, and I opted to hop over a cross rail to pick up our canter, and after a lap or two, I just started popping over everything in the arena.
I let Val make all the decisions, and I used only my legs and upper body to slow down and steer, leaving a loop in the rein. It took a few jumps, but by the end of our ride, he picked up a little hand gallop all on his own and finally felt more like himself and like he was having a good time.
I was actually very pleasantly surprised that I was able to rate him just by bringing my body back, and that I was able to do a couple of roll backs without ever touching my rein.
After our maybe 15 minutes ride, we walked all over the property (which isn’t that large, but he still loves the exploring) and then I stuffed him full of even more cookies than usual, just to make sure the experience was pleasant, and he was happy and snuggly again by the time I put him away.
Even though my original plan was derailed, I think it was good for us to put in a ride that was no pressure and was just fun for the both of us. I found out as I was leaving that he was just super worn out from playing around with his pasture mates like a lunatic the past few days, but even still, I left feeling like we’d done exactly what we needed to. It’s got to be fun for the both of us. What do you do when your horse just isn’t feeling like him/herself?