So last night was the third ride for Rugby and I. And it was the best so far.
He needs work learning to stand at the mounting block and I've been enlisting willing souls to help me by giving him a gentle push on the off side. Last night my husband stopped by to help me mount up although I almost could have done it unassisted. It's just one of those things that needs repetition and he'll be fine.
The first time I rode him, he didn't exactly start off on the right hoof. I took him out to the polo arena last Saturday. Everything seemed fine until he realized he was the only horse on the arena. And he started whinnying, and snorting and prancing around. I swear they get even bigger when they get all nervous like that. It didn't help that was the time that they were also switching turn out shifts! And I'm thinking, "how am I going to mount this beast and how long before he quits acting up?"
When all of a sudden, here comes the lady who owns the old school horse, Sparky, leading the old fellow out to the arena. Rugby saw his friend, whinnied at him and started to settle down. She smiled at us and said," I like your horse so much and so does Sparky. We want him to work out for you and for him to stay here. How about I have one of the lesson kids saddle up Sparky and ride with you to keep him quiet?"
Perfect! I thanked her for the great idea and sure enough, as soon as Sparky was in the arena with us, the big galoot settled down. In fact, a few more horses came in as lessons got started and the more horses in the ring, the quieter and happier Rugby is! That's a wonderful thing, especially for my little plan to train him into a field hunter.
He's got a wonderful mouth, he takes the bit with contact but I don't find he hangs in the hand. When you get him together and add leg, all of a sudden he comes right into the bridle and gets soft, but then, when his lack of toning starts to cause him to hurt a bit, he bulges through the shoulder and loses the frame. He's long in the body, so it takes time to get him connected. We are just working the walk and trot now in short sessions but I love how willing he is even with the greenie nonsense.
Sunday's ride had a wild moment. He was better in the arena as there were already other horses there in lessons. Then he saw a horse going out to lunge in the other riding ring that resembled his buddy Sparky. He bellowed to the horse, then snortd, the tail went straight up and he started jumping sideways! I sat low and tight, kept urging him forward and circling him. And in about 15 seconds, (that felt like 15 minutes) he gave up. He kept peeking and whimpering at that horse, and as long as he kept a few brain cells involved with me, I let him be nosy. All we did was walk, stretch, walk over ground poles and work on steering. And he did great.
Last night, I was alone, so I rode in the ring behind the barn. I figured as long as he was close to the barn, he'd be fine. He was. There is a lot to look at in this ring. There's a restaurant on the other side with a busy parking lot and lots of human noise and traffic, a busy road outside the front of the ring, and just all sorts of smells and sounds to distract a young horse. We rode a short 20-25 minute session just at the walk with a little trot and he was a doll. I love this big baby.