I finally got to ride Pluto today. I don't even remember how long it's been since I've ridden. It feels like a very long time. I didn't really have any goals other than the simple act of sitting on the horse. I figure if we got only that far, it would still be more than we've done in a month or so.
Many people from the farm were out today at an Old People's Riding Club (OPRC) event. As a result the farm was very quiet. Pluto was bored in his field and happy to come out. He was absolutely filthy due to his habit of grinding dirt into his hide as soon as he gets done being cleaned, with repetitions frequently thereafter. I didn't bathe him but I did spend quite a bit of time with various brushes, combs, and scrapers, removing excess hair and dirt. He looks more like an appaloosa than ever this year. He greyed out around eight or nine, and ever since he has been growing back more bay or chestnut spots. It's pretty weird looking. Fortunately his coloring is a lot less important to me than his movement, and his movement is pretty nice.
We walked the half mile to the arena with a minimum of fuss. One last person was getting a horse ready to go to the OPRC event. Pluto was quite interested in all the noise coming from the trailer. He could see the thing rocking around as the horse inside stomped, but he couldn't see the horse. Fortunately no explosions resulted (from Pluto.)
I did something a little differently this time. Generally I visualize myself riding before I ride. This time, I visualized Pluto being ridden. That is, I wanted him to give me a slow, gentle jog, so I visualized a slow, gentle jog. And that's what he gave me. I accused him of pretending not to be telepathic up until now and he flicked his ear at me. Then he quit the gentle jog and took up his normal vigorous trot. So I guess the lesson learned here is not to be accusatory immediately after you've gotten what you want.
We worked on backing up today, as that is a very weak point with us. I went through my standard useless sequence (which produced no backing up) and then stopped to ponder. Then I visualized the horse backing up. And I said, very softly, "beep. beep. beep." And dang if the horse didn't back up. Of course, that didn't work the second time I tried it. Nevertheless we managed to come to a meeting of minds and backed up several times, so I'm calling it a win.
At some point the horse in the pasture next to the arena realized his buddy was gone, having been towed off (stomping) to the OPRC event. So the lone horse took off bucking and galloping around his field. Pluto was riveted and getting jumpy, so I decided that discretion was the better part of riding solo and I hopped off. By the time I got the stirrups wrapped up and loosened the girth, the other horse had settled back down. Grrr..
I called it a day and walked Pluto back to his field, where he promptly ground dirt back into his hide. It was like I had never been there.
I figure we're good, now. We should be able to resume regularly scheduled riding on Wednesday with Tara.