On this day I headed out a little after noon with Bob so we'd have plenty of time to unload, locate the stall I'd reserved for him for the day and get into our frame of mind via ground work before our lesson.
The indoor arena was empty and I could tell by the footing that nobody else had been in it prior to Bob and I. There was a lot of activity in the barn that hosts the arena. Horses were coming and going into the stalls which make up the outer walls of the arena. One horse was having a fit that it had been left behind, screaming and kicking inside the stall.
Bob's tense body and bulging eyes told me he was concerned and nervous about all of this activity and noise. Good! I wanted him exposed to all of this. He needs to learn to ignore it.
We had ample time for ground work before Rachel, my friend and trainer (frainer) arrived with two saddled horses in tow. She apologized, saying she was behind in her schedule and asked if it would be ok if she rode while she gave us our lesson.
Excellent! I have wanted her to ride with me so I can observe some of the guidance she gives me. Sometimes I just don't get it when she tries to explain a concept to me from the ground. I have thought that watching her on horseback demonstrate her point would be helpful and indeed it was.
Another positive - our hourly lesson lasted over two hours since she was working horses. Bob and I got in a lot of saddle time.
After I'd put Bob into his day stall to munch on some hay and take a break, I did the same. A few hours later Bob and I were back in the arena for Ladies Night #3.
Tonight there were ten of us on horseback. Rachel had used poles to design three lanes around the arena. This night was about feeling how your horse moved. We set out in the lanes at a walk and were instructed to close our eyes and try to feel our horses' back legs. As we passed Rachel we were instructed to tell her the precision of the back legs (i.e., right/left or left/right). We then tried the same thing at a trot and then for those brave enough, the lope.
I haven't accomplished the lope with Bob yet although Rachel has. My husband refers to the accomplishment as "getting your wings" and right now I'm missing mine.
It appears that Bob hasn't been loped much in his former life. He takes off like a bullet into a full gallop, frequently on the wrong lead. During my lessons Rachel rides Bob for a period of time to work on slowing him down and finding the right lead. Initially watching them at the gallop/lope drained my confidence (me ride that??? No way!) But they are making headway and I no longer gulp as I observe. My wings will come.
The rest of Ladies Night #3 was spent riding straight lines and doing rollbacks - something Bob and I do well. This night was two hours of high concentration.
By the end of the second hour of Ladies Night #3, which made for four hours of riding for Bob and I in the last six hours, I was feeling every bit of my 50+ years in every part of my body - saddle sore. I could tell that Bob was also worn out. I'm sure Bob was as happy to get me off of him as I was to get off of him.
We were both relieved to be heading back to our trailer and loading up to go home. The days are already getting shorter. We used to drive home to brilliant sunsets but now drive home in the dark. It's always a welcoming sight to see the barn lights on and my husband coming out the door to help me unload as Bob and I pull up.
Later today I head out with my Cowgirl Pals to go sorting. I'm grateful to have a horse like Bob who has opened many doors for me. As we pass through those doors I expect that being saddle sore will no longer be an issue as Bob and I get in better shape. In the meantime the lessons and Ladies Nights, along with sorting events are paying off in spades for Bob and I.