Yes, that's right; Club Dirt. Sandy had been doing so well, and we'd taken our first two solo rides a couple days ago. Then Tuesday morning I figured we'd ride again...without my beloved Jay to start us off, and I didn't work enough of the nerves out of him, so as soon as I got on he was ready and willing to get me off.
This boy looks like a poster child for the Pendleton Round Up when he gets to going, let me tell you! I saw him do it the first week he was here; head tucked between his knees and shoulders flying high into the air before his feet drop to the ground in a thud and his head flies up...then down...then up...all in a rolicking motion that makes a sea sick person wish they'd taken their dramamine before mounting up.
And that's what he did with me. At first it was a trot off just as soon as I landed on his back. I had my left rein shorter from the mount, which was good as I could pull him into a circle. But rather than slow down and relax as he found himself doing something he'd done before, his fear elevated and his head lifted; he began dancing on the front just a little and pivoting rather than circling. And just when he seemed to relax just a wee bit and I thought to change hands and take him the other way, down went his head and up came those powerful shoulders. Hump wump bump...a couple of good rolling moves and that was it. I was sunk and rolled off backwards over the cantle and into the dirt.
Welcome to Club Dirt...I'll be your seating hostess. Would you like to start with a mouthful of gritty sand on the rocks?
I managed to pull myself up onto my feet and caught the last couple of good bucks as Sandy reached the wall on the other side of the round pen. He turned around, eyes glazed with fear and shot straight back at me, panting and snorting and wondering what the heck had just happened. His eyes were wide with fear and uncertainty. I have him a pat, apologized for letting him down by not working him first, and wondered just how bruised my body was going to be by morning.
I spent the rest of the afternoon working him from the ground, then called Jay before heading for home, leaving an absolutely pitiful message for him to find later in the day. Poor guy. He's an absolute God-send, really, and if I were about to jump off the ledge of a building, he's the guy you'd want to call to have come talk me down. He got me back up into the saddle yesterday and talked both Sandy and I into relaxing, and today it was solo again, but of course with my 'rock' standing in the pen with me to help me through those initial jitters.
I'm not convinced that Sandy will be ready to ride through the obstacle course in Sacramento. He's come such a long way, but his lack of self confidence gets in his way even though he's trying hard to understand what I'm asking and to please me. By the end of today's ride he was once again listening closely and working hard to understand the direct rein and leg cues I was giving him, and Jay was encouraging me to pick up the program another level. But we've all agreed that it's better to be safe than sorry once we reach the show in four weeks. It's a bit disappointing, really, as I think this is a terrific horse and would love to show him off. He's just one who needs a little more time to discover how truly wonderful he really is and I'm not willing to push him beyond his comfort and security level. (Okay...and I really don't want to visit Club Dirt in front of 5,000 people, either!)