What Happens in the Arena

Last Saturday I rode with Ruby and Sugar's owner, Mrs. Davis. I rode Ruby and she rode Sugar. We first groomed them in the paddock, I braided Ruby's tail, then we walked them to the big arena. They both have sticky feet when we walk them alone to the arenas but since she walked both of them at the same time they didn't stop once. 

Surprisingly, Sugar was the more energetic one but then, I've been working with Ruby much more. Before saddling up we let them run around in the arena first while we got the tack out. They ran pretty well and were starting to sweat. They rolled in the sand, but Sugar chose a spot to roll right next to the fence. When she rolled over toward the fence her leg got caught between the rails. It wasn't really caught badly at all but every time she tried rolling the way she would put her legs out between the fence so she couldn't roll over. She only tried once or twice and than laid there and didn't move. Mrs. Davis and I waited to see if she could figure out how to get out herself but she's didn't budge. In fact she looked so relaxed she looked like she was going to sleep. We waited a little while longer and then Mrs. Davis went around the outside to her to encourage her to get up. Ruby didn't help very much by galloping around but it didn't get Sugar excited at all, nor did she seem to notice. So since nothing happened I walked to her from the inside. She moved her head a little to see me approaching toward her head. Mrs. Davis couldn't reach Sugar very well to do much but we moved her legs out and I was able to push her over onto her other side. After that she got up fine and started racing Ruby around again, so she wasn't hurt. Mrs. Davis was very worried about her but was relieved to see Sugar was fine. 

I've had the same problem with Ruby in the round pen. The first time it happened I was alone so I was worried. It was actually easier to get her to roll over the right way but I felt like panicking especially since she wasn't my horse and  I started thinking of everything bad that could be happening. What was amazing about it was they just lay very calmly (too calmly) and waited for someone to help them instead of panicking and kicking which would have ended up in a disaster! 

Sugar looked completely fine so we saddled both of them and got on. We thought about doing some ground work first but we did a little in the paddock before bringing them up and since I usually work so much on the ground work before riding, we thought it was better just to get on straight away. We did do some desensitizing and I trotted Ruby around before mounting. When we were both on, we worked on flexing and a bunch of other exercises we've been learning from the Clinton Anderson Method. For the first part we walked them around  and practiced flexing, stopping and backing up. We did a little cruising and they wanted to follow each other. We worked together on the different exercises, one of us would do a lesson while the other would correct them if they saw anything out of place. Then we kind of did our own thing and I noticed Ruby and Sugar weren't so crazy about being together anymore. 

I worked on what's called 'Follow the Fence'. I've been watching the DVDs on that and this was my first time working Ruby on it. I did this after I did cruising with Ruby at a trot. Follow the fence is where I was teaching Ruby to go at a walk, trot or canter along the fence to keep a straight line unless we were turning in the corners. At first she kept going off the fence but soon I got her to stay along the fence very fast. We were doing it at a trot and once in a while changing directions. That worked out SO well and Ruby understood very quickly. 

I practiced my cantering as well since I had a fear of doing it with not so good balance. My fear was that I wouldn't have any control over her. So I started overcoming my fear by cantering her in a circle so I could stop her with a one rein stop. Another problem was she also needed to get better with her cantering. When riding, she always goes at a fast canter which gets me a little scared. I had to practice her cantering so she would conserve her energy and go at a nice canter. It was hard for me as a beginner with a horse that would go too fast when I wasn't very ready yet. When I had riding lesson years ago, I was only taught how to ride at a walk and a little bit at a trot. I learned posting which was really hard at first but now it's simple. I never got to ride cantering even though my teacher said I should practice it whenever I go riding for awhile. I did canter Raleigh but had no control at all since it was more of a run than a canter and I did it at one end of the arena and let me run to the other with always a little fear in me but it was so much fun for some reason so I did it more. I wasn't too scared since I knew Raleigh was going to the gate...every time. And he was an old boy so I didn't think he was ever going to buck me off. He seem to have joy in rubbing my leg against and a few other terrible tricks that I didn't know how to get rid of at the time. 

Anyway, by going in a circle, I was able to control Ruby better and it was helping with my balance the more I did it. She also didn't start out so fast as much. I got her to canter in a circle and then I would stop her and let her rest before trying it again. I worked her a lot, more than I thought because Mrs. Davis could see how drenched in sweat she was so we stopped and went to unsaddle them. I wasn't paying too much attention to what Sugar and Mrs. Davis were doing when I was cantering Ruby but she didn't looked as worked out as Ruby did. We took both of the horses to graze for awhile and then back to the paddock for the night. I helped put the tack back and fed a couple of other horses I was caring for at the moment.