Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Back to School!
Tuesday is my Monday, so River, Jessi and I started out the week with a back - to - school day. River's belly is looking really good after her surgery, and I'm going to start taking the stitches out one or two at a time over the next week, so I don't irritate her. She still likes being scratched in that area, but the stitch removal might pull a little, so we'll take our time.
Today's lesson was to graduate River to the English saddle from the one time we put the bareback pad on her a couple of weeks ago. Yes, we could throw the Western saddle on her, but we are not in any hurry, and want to take things one step at a time with her. The English saddle has flaps on it which will fly up and down when she starts to move, so she will get extra stimulation out of the corners of her eyes from that. She has only had a girth on her the one time, and not for very long at that, so it's still very new to her.
Because River has had some time off, we wanted to work on some of the basics before we put the saddle on her. Jessi worked her with the flag to re-familiarize her with being touched all over and to see things come and go from both sides of her body.
We will be riding River in a bit as well as in a hackamore, which means she needs to get used to things being put in and out of her mouth. A good way to introduce a horse to this concept is to use the lead rope - it's a lot softer and nicer than metal. River made a great "bleh-bleh" face, but was really very good about it.
One last thing before saddling up was to remind River of the feel of a girth on her. Here, again, the lead rope comes in handy. A little walking with the rope around her belly, and we're good to go!
Jessi showed a curious River the little, tiny, kid's saddle that I used to use for lessons. This part was pretty easy - she was fine with it being put on her repeatedly from both the left and the right sides. Jessi also flapped the flaps (that sounds funny) up and down a little. Next, she cinched her up - tight enough so that the saddle wouldn't fall off should River get away, but not so tight as to scare her.
Jessi then asked River to unlock her hind end a little, and walked her a bit before tightening the girth all the way up. River was still fine with all of this.
River and Jessi walked around some more to let River keep getting accustomed to the saddle and the girth. Then it was time for River to be on her own, and learn what it feels like to wear clothes! She wanted to follow Jessi out of the arena, but we were all there to support her from the sidelines.
At first she walked around with her back hunched and her legs stiff.........
Then she flew like Tinker Bell with her little tiny wings!!
A few more fancy moves...........
Then she was able to settle in to a trot for awhile and turn to face us, licking and chewing - she was accepting her lesson. That doesn't mean, however, that this was the end of her shenanigans! I let her stay in the round pen with her new clothes on while I gave a lesson in the other arena, and every once in awhile she would feel the girth again and do some more airs above the ground.
River adjourned to her stall and wore her saddle a little longer, then off it came. She almost seemed proud of her first saddle marks ever - well done young missy!
(Remember, you can click on all the images to see them in full size)