On Sunday, it was beautiful, but windy. We loaded up Lily and Cibolo and took them back over to our old stables.
(Here's a photo from the days gone by and a scary barrel that freaked out Canyon way back)
Our old stables are open again, and it really is heaven for horses. I'd consider moving back, but we've gotten really emotionally attached to our present barn.
But when we pulled up and I saw that big pasture, the lighted arena and round pen, I felt a longing.
DH and I saddled up our horses and I warmed up Cibolo. He was doing well, really well given the wind which I thought would have him in fits.
We waited for Trail Rider to arrive with his friend, and rode around the arena. It was great to be in a big arena, cantering around, going through our paces.
It was the trail where I'd finally figure out Cibolo's hole, once and for all.
We headed down the trail, across the stream, then up an embankment. Cibolo got about halfway up, then came apart, crow hopping and jumping up the hill sideways. He was jiggy and freaky for a bit so I got off and worked him a bit.
This is where I glimpsed it. Horsemanship. I realized where his fear was, the slippery footing on the hill, something pings off in his head and it's a long road back.
It's not mud, it's not things brushing against his right hind. It's this incline. Because it happened again. I'd remounted and we headed for the next ditch. He got to the bottom and went to freak out level 3.5 (on a scale of 1-5) - nearly bucking, whirling, scared, scared. I got him to stop. Got off. Walked him up, then lunged for a minute. Then back down the ditch.
You need to know this is okay, Cibolo, I told him.
I backed him up the incline. I made him walk all around it, including the sketchy parts. I did it over and over. Then, at the base of the incline I got on him and we rode up.
That was it. That was my glimpse of being a horseman. I realized my job, finally, is not to just ride well, but to support my horse. To help him cope, learn, move on.
We had one more sketchy moment, and I was off again and it was more backing up inclines. But after that, he stayed rational. The wind didn't bother him. He managed the way back just fine. He wasn't quite all the way with me, but he had calmed down much faster than he had the day I ended up riding alone. I rode him all the way back, and we rode in the arena for a bit. He wasn't happy cantering, but we got through that too.
DH was not thrilled with Cibolo, but I reminded him that I'm attracted to challenging men (a point he had to concede).
He was more shocked that I got back on Cibolo and rode him up the incline after his big episode. "I don't think I could have done that," he said.
You know, six months ago, even a year ago, I couldn't have either.
But now, I can.
Maybe he can be a trail horse. Maybe he can't. I hope I can figure out how better to solve these problems from the saddle and not have to get down to regain his attention. Only time and training (of myself) will tell.
I was going to ride today and work on hills, but it rained. Maybe by Thursday...
(sorry no pictures! It was so beautiful too... )