Gate Work

Plus some other stuff. Mostly going back and fixing what I broke on our last ride.

I took him far beyond his comfort zone on our last ride, this time I went the opposite direction. There is a little pen behind our house, it a converging point of corrals and lanes, a holding place before the final push into the front corral where the loading chutes and head catch are. It is small, but big enough to ride in. An awkward shape, wide on one side narrow on the other. Sharp metal wind break and protruding chunks of cement further reduce its usability as a riding ring.

But for now it was perfect. I wasn’t worried about Rusty bucking me off on the hard cement. I was happy to have fences to confine him while leaving room to trot a circle. He wanted to go away. That same way away that caused so many problems last time. He knew where the grass was and was determined to reach it. There was a fence in the way. He hunched his back and dropped his head, mad that I wouldn’t comply. I sat deep, holding tight to my saddles broad pommel. We made another circle. He wanted his way. I was feeling comfortable in not having died yet. My seat improves drastically once I stop cowering in fear. We worked out the kinks. Not in one clean moment but in a series of questions and deep discussion.

Can you stop when I ask like this I say? I can but only when we are going away from where I want he replies. Will you yield when I squeeze my leg on this side I ask? Whoa, you mean move my shoulder way over here like this he responds? Until we discovered that we did speak the same language. We could find a middle ground where each of us are able to supply input, one persons desires are not law. Yet. And yet. If I ask surely it doesn’t hurt to think about answering politely.

Then we introduced a new question. This is a gate. Can you stand next to it? Will you let me bounce it from your back? Look how fun it can be. All we have to do is stand here, next to the gate, and eat treats. That was easy. Now can you take one step sideways while I hold the gate? One step I said. No, he said, one step is not possible, I must take many. Oh I see, I replied, I am asking too much. Have we worked on side passing at all? Please forgive me, you are so light and responsive, I forget sometimes that you don’t always know what I am asking. And so it goes until I force myself to climb down, scratch his forehead and unsaddle. Relations are repaired and I can’t wait for next time.

There is a video to go with this but it is too long for the blog. It will be up on his facebook page Monday, I hope, when I get into town where there is internet. Check >here< to find it!

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