Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mercy's time to shine

After saddling her up, Ann and I walked her out to the arena again. I moved her into a few circles around me to make sure she didn't feel 'stuck' or grabby. She really just looked bored to be honest, not really enthusiastic, but not spacing out either. As I moved her around, she was crossing over nicely behind and had a good expression.

I didn't want anything to become a lesson, so I decided to let her loose in the small arena to move at liberty. Well, kinda. She didn't exactly want to move out. It took quite a bit of encouragement from the end of my lead swinging at her to get her to move. Once she got the idea, I was finally able to evaluate her movement. I'll be honest when I saw I really can't analyze movement very well, but I can notice a slight limp or lameness. Since she wasn't really moving out too fast or with much impulsion, it was easy to see she moved well enough. The saddle we threw on her was not the best fitting for her. It wanted to rock back, dip into her withers, and lift around the skirt and cantle. Even with the saddle moving up and down with every stride, she remained smooth and even in her gaits and transitions.
At one point I pushed her to really move out (which again, really didn't happen. It was more of a faster lope) and she offered a crow hop. I think she was just fed up with the saddle bouncing on her back. Anyway, whenever I offered her a release of pressure, she immediately stopped moving and faced toward me. I would have liked to have her walk up to me, but what are you going to do? At least she stood patiently with forward, alert ears and a relaxed leg while I walked up to her with the halter and lead.

Of course, I couldn't just stop there and be satisfied. I know many of you will think I am crazy, but I wanted to sit on her. Not ride, just sit. She had been ridden a few times before, so why not? Plus, I had the spirit of youth on my side, didn't I?! ;) I didn't want to fool with a bit so I just looped her lead around. While I rechecked the cinch's tightness, Ann grabbed a helmet for me to use. I also just practiced rocking the saddle back and forth, left and right, to see if she would set herself up to prepare for a rider. She tried, but it still looked awkward. I gave Dakota a pat and threw on the helmet. I was prepared to bail if I had to by keeping my foot barely in the stirrup and a hand securely on the pommel or horn. I was also prepared to pull her head around into a one-rein stop to halt her forward movement at least. I just laid my body over her the first time I put weight in the stirrup and she looked around, but didn't move. I jumped down before she thought about moving. I didn't really want to fool around too much, so the second time I gently let my right leg fall over the saddle and into the opposite stirrup. I was on!

Remembering that the saddle was not the best fit, I only stayed up there maybe a minute or two. I didn't ask her to move, just to stand calmly which she did perfectly. I think she was a little curious why someone was on her again after such along time off, but seemed unfazed. I jumped off and walked her around a little, mostly to loosen up my nerves which had finally caught up with me. I had done everything I could think of at the time to try with her. At that point, it was time to go and think things over. I really liked what I had seen, from her color and behavior, to her personality and age. All that was left to do was to report home to the family.

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