Me & my buddy Frank

We had another up and down week, Derby and me,  as his back got sore again after my ride on Sunday. I *did* try another shim in my Mattes pad, which could have caused the soreness. Or, maybe after his winter off,  we’re asking too much too soon with multiple trot sets and stretching.  Who knows.

So he had a few days off,  just longing, and after discussing it with Christy, I decided that I’m going back to square one in terms of building fitness.  Hour long rides at a walk for a week.  Then introducing a couple short trot segments of no more than five minutes each, and then gradually increasing the trot, and adding short canters in about a month. And – hand to God – I swear on a stack of Bibles that I won’t mess with the shims and padding.

So on Wednesday we walked,  in hand, in the outdoor arena.  Walked and walked, in the deeper footing, over poles.  Derby signaled his boredom with sighs but plodded along next to me.  Because we weren’t mounted, and because I also needed to get a workout in, we also jogged a bit – the two of us, me in my big Wellies – around the outdoor.  As I was putting Derby away, Kim arrived, running late, and asked me of I could ride Frank, as she needed to get on Prior but both needed some work.  I was more than happy to hop on my old pal, and spent the ride doing penance for Derby, trotting around in two-point, and posting from a half-seat, keeping my butt out of the saddle as much as I could.  Gaahh.  I need to do more of that kind of work.  It kills.

On Thursday,  I tacked up Derby for one of our walking rides.  I had asked Christy if we could hack out off the property a short way, just so I could see how Derby would be.  He’s done lots of trails and schooled XC – and as expected, he was fine.  I was a little trepidatious – I generally am with most “first time” moments – but he was a good boy – even when we had to weave through pine trees and wade through belly-high grass.  We got out a little way – having tackled the parts of the trail I don’t love (pine trees, a drainage ditch, the tall grass) and Derby started acting a bit nervous.  Not bad, at all – just a leeetle looky and snorty.  Because a good experience was important to me – I am putting my own confidence back together and am frankly managing my experiences by setting myself up for success –  I asked Christy to turn around.  She was surprised but I wanted to get back before I had any issues.  A successful maiden voyage was the desired outcome.

We headed back, and Derby felt tense and was a little spooky.  This was all manageable – on the spookiness Richter scale, where 1 is a look and 10 is eating dirt while your horse flees into the next county, this was a 1.5.  No biggie.  And that was the point.   Getting out and back successfully and quietly is the first step I needed.  And it worked – I’m eager to take Derby back out, and am certain that he’ll be fantastic on the trails.  And we learned later that three was another rider in amongst the pine trees, and she had flushed a deer, so Derby’s avid interest in what was going on elsewhere was legit.

We ended the ride schooling bend in the outdoor.  I need to work on establishing a more forward, marching walk with Derby, who tends to get slow.  Anyway, it was a good night.  However,  I still find myself riding defensively.  I have to get it through my head – and into my instinctive reflexes – that this horse isn’t Maddie.  I can trust this boy. I *need* to trust this boy.


About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

6 Responses to Penance

  1. Annette says:

    Good for you for acknowledging your confidence issues and taking it at the speed you need. If fear is involved, pushing too much is often the wrong tactic!

    I have been taking trail walks tiny bit by tiny bit with my TB who, post-track, was ridden on trail rides at a full gallop. To “condition” him by a teenager who didn’t know control first is a good idea. In my case it’s not due to fear, but a full realization that he is physically talented enough for an international caliber eventing career (but not mentally suited for it), and that I am not strong enough to stay on if he should decide to show it off. And I want him to learn that it’s ok to walk and relax on the trail. We’ve progressed to about a mile of walking on the buckle on trails, and it’s SO worth taking it slowly to get where we need to be!

    I hope Derby builds up fitness well, and you get to keep riding other horses so your fitness can stay ahead of his! It’s not fun trying to catch up with a horse’s fitness level, which will be the story of my life with this horse. (And the reason I now ride two horses a day when I can, so I get more work than he does!)

  2. Derby sounds like such a gem. I hope you both enjoy this period of reconditioning, and it does the trick with his soreness. Sounds like you’re off to a great start:)

  3. I hope these setbacks are a temporary thing for you guys. It can be so hard to be patient, especially when you’re new to each other.

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