Last week I had my second and third rides on Betty, and we are settling into a routine. I catch her and Z, cross tie them to groom and saddle, and then they take turns tied to the fence while I ride the other horse. Betty usually stands very quietly watching while I ride Z. Occasionally she'll get herself into a pickle with the rope over her head, but she just calmly works herself out of it. What a smart girl. I'm so glad she's sensible when tied. Nothing really seems to faze this mare, though; so, I shouldn't be surprised.
Our second ride was much like the first. Betty had a little bit more nervous energy when I brought her to the mounting block, but she settled down quickly and stood very nicely at the block for me to hop on. The most important thing for her to realize this ride was the ability to move forward. We still did many tiny little circles, and she trotted off in a small panic when I smacked her hiney with the end of my rein to inspire some forward energy, but she relaxed into the ride and even went straight for a few strides at a time. I kept it short and sweet, but I was so proud of my girl.
Our third ride was even better! We walked and trotted both directions mostly on the rail. She balances well and is getting the hang of turning from my seat and leg. I'm riding her in the sidepull, and it's a great tool for teaching her to follow her nose through turns. I've never started a horse with one before, but I think it may be my new favorite piece for starting horses.
During training, people put a lot of emphasis on the first ride, but, the way I see it, I have the element of surprise for that one. To me, the better test is the second ride. The horse knows what's coming and has to make the decision whether they're going to behave or buck me off. Of course, if I have done my preparation well, there won't be a problem, but there's always the free will of the horse to take into account. Since we've got three rides behind us, I think I can finally relax. Betty will continue to progress, and I can stop worrying about it and get down to the serious business of training.
While I haven't sent in my registration yet, we are definitely planning on attending the S.A.F.E. show August 3 and 4. Z will show in some western classes, and I may even ride a Western Dressage test with him. I'm not sure what capacity Betty will participate, but, at the very least, I hope to do some in hand classes with her. We have been practicing our showmanship every session, and she is improving by leaps and bounds. I'm really hoping she will be doing well enough to go into a walk only class. We've got a few weeks left before the show, and I will just have to see where we are at when the big day comes.