The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Next Step with Bridget?

Today, when the horses were all out in the yard, I fetched saddle, bridle, and an assortment of girths, and walked back to the house, wondering who would come forward for a bit of a saddle-up experience. Bridget didn't hesitate - she came over, nosed the saddle, and was ready for action. I didn't bother with grooming - just put the bitless on (which actually she didn't like too much as it involved fiddling with her ears, but it was ok), and then plonked the saddle on and did it up really tight. Which she didn't object to, especially as there were peppermint treats involved.

Actually the peppermint treats were more of a distraction than a help, I think, as she kept nosing me for more.

Having gotten the tack sorted, we headed off, and Bridget stopped half way down the drive to scrutinize the distance. And there she stayed.

So I thought: Ok, maybe this is a good moment to practice mounting.

As I turned to contemplate the ascent, my old nemesis showed up: nerves. Just a tiny sensation of butterflies, but enough to bring back all those years when nerves were my constant companion when riding. Definitely don't want to go back there.

Deciding that my hesitation stemmed from past worries rather than present reality, I went for it. The stirrup hung invitingly; Bridget stood steady as a rock. And then there I was, laying across her back, scratching her far flank, and no longer feeling nervous. Although I did kick the stirrup off my foot, just in case.

Another try, and then we stood some more, Bridget showing no inclination to either advance or to graze. She gave me her forelegs, which I decided meant I should do some more mounting. So I did. This time, she turned her head back to sniff my legs. After a couple more times, when I went to have another go, Bridget moved out of position. So - ok, that was enough.

Next time, I'll probably put my other leg over and sit, but I didn't want to do that all by myself - I'd feel better if there were someone else standing by her head.

Despite the fact that Bridget is only about 14:2,
and I'm about 5'10", the stirrup seems to hang
 at a respectable position by her side.

We went for a short walk. On the way back, briefly, Bridget showed some impatience at being in some way restricted by me, as she had also the other day when we were returning from a longer walk. She didn't pull away or panic or become aggressive. But she plunged and reared up a few inches, as if to say, "Dammit, I'd rather be doing things my way right now."

I try to not react much - but to just stay peaceful. It's not a moment of disconnection, but it's a moment when she realizes she is confined - not so much by the rope and halter (as I'm not pulling) as by the agreement we have that when we're out together, she has to be patient and polite, even at times when she'd rather rush ahead.

I've never bossed her around or demanded. Everything's always been done by agreement and collaboration. I want it to stay that way. She is inherently so cooperative and willing to participate, it would be terrible to get my way by shutting her down. 

Is she beginning to assert herself more as she grows up? She's still so young - only three - and her assertiveness is wound up with youthful impatience. I think I just have to keep being patient and calm and keep setting high standards for manners, while at the same time not asking for too much seriousness from her yet.

She's really grown lately - maybe even a couple of inches since mid-summer. Here she is with her head in the trough. I'm afraid she's a bit of a fatty at the moment. 


  1. I think the issue of nerves is interesting. I do not think that there is any point in trying to hide them - sometimes if I just run with them and breathe through them that is all that is needed.

    Maybe Bridget is telling you that she wants some more energy and action from you now?

  2. Yes, Maire, I do believe you are right.