It finally happened! I got to ride outside. After what seemed like the winter that would never end, this weekend it was finally warm enough—and dry enough—that I was able to take Luc out into the sand ring. But before we could enjoy the sunshine, we had to endure the horror that was tacking up inside.
I’m not sure what set Luc off, but just being inside was enough to turn him into a giant sweaty mess in a way I haven’t seen in a long time. Despite the fact he’s come inside everyday all winter long, today was the day his brain just couldn’t take another minute of it. He was unable to stand still, jerking and startling at every whisper of a sound. He was so stressed out his body was shaking and I could see the pulse pounding in his neck.
More than once he tried to bolt down the barn aisle, only to realise he was attached to the crossties. It had me very concerned about the type of ride we were going to have. But in typically Luc fashion, as soon as we got outside, he calmed down and all was right with the world again.
There was just one small problem with riding outside—mounting. There’s only a small mounting block outside, and unfortunately I have short legs, especially compared to Luc’s very long ones. After a bit of a struggle, I was able to pull myself up into the saddle, and we were off. We kind of moseyed around the ring for a bit before I put Luc to work, mostly because we both seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and more inclined to bask in it than do any real work.
But since that’s not the greatest workout for either of us, I only let it go on for so long before it was time to do some real work. I picked up a nice active trot and we worked on circles, serpentines and some extension. Then it was up into the canter. It was nice and relaxed, forward and round. Looks like the sunshine was doing both of us some good!
Since he’s become a bit anticipatory when it comes to swapping his leads automatically, something we’d prefer to avoid him learning, Jen, Luc’s owner and my sister, has been schooling counter canter. So I thought I’d work on it as well. Giving him the best chance possible of succeeding, I bent him to the outside, slide my inside leg back, and gave a little squeeze.
He immediately picked up the lead I’d asked for. What a good boy! We went a few strides and through one corner before I brought him back to trot. I didn’t want him to become unbalanced and switch to the opposite lead. Then we tried in the other direction and he happily picked up the lead I’d asked for. It seems he knows his leads better than I thought.
I ended the ride there since he was such a good boy and we’d accomplished everything I’d set out to. We then cooled out by walking up and down the driveway. He was mostly relaxed, apart from when the pack of barn dogs came racing out barking and playing.
Unfortunately, our time in the sun didn’t do him any good when it came to going back inside. He was just as stressed out when we untacked him as when we’d tacked him up. Hopefully it was just an off day and this isn’t what we have to look forward to all summer.
I have to admit that I’m so excited to finally be back riding outside—and that I can’t wait until the fields are dry enough for Luc and I to go cantering through them!