Tuesday, November 22, 2016

First Attempt in the Arena After a Long Trail Riding Season

First Attempt in the Arena After a Long Trail Riding Season

If you have been following my stories with Cole for a while, you may recall that we have problems in the arena.  It started when I was initially training him.  Though he is hardly what I would call a spooky horse, he was consistently having huge spooks on the far end of the arena--causing him to bolt back towards the door.  Any little noise would set him off--or no noise at all.

I was training him for the trail on the weekends and working him in the arena during the week.  He barely spooked at all on the trail.  There, my biggest problem was getting him to walk quietly.  He wanted to trot, instead.  We managed to work through that, but the arena was much more difficult.  Not because of Cole, but because of me.  Since the bolting kept occurring in the same area, I was getting nervous whenever I approached it.  I would get so frightened, I would become paralyzed.  I remember trying to ride there on my own, and having to stop and call someone to walk back with me.  Even though he got better, I got worse.  Eventually, I couldn’t even ride on that side of the arena.  I spent most of the first winter riding only one half to the arena.  

That spring, I started trail riding, again.  I still rode a little in the arena in the evenings, but I still stayed on the safe side.  Eventually, I was so determined to vanquish my fear, that I decided to work on attainable goals.  I would ride the full arena at a walk for 5 laps each direction.  If anything caused me to abort the plan, I had to start over at the beginning.  It worked like magic.  By starting my rides like this, I was able to conquer my fears and soon I could trot and canter, too.

That is, until I took the whole following spring and summer off from arena to ride on the trail, exclusively.  When I went back in the fall, the fears came back.  I had to do the 5 laps routine, again.

Same with the following fall…

And the next one.

This year, I was determined that I would just ride like a normal person.  After over 5 years of riding Cole, I didn’t need to go through all that, again.

Ellen and I had our first arena ride on a cold and rainy weekend morning.  I hopped on Cole and rode a few laps--and felt great.  Then I decided to try the other direction.  It was the easier one--piece of cake.

That is, until I got to the far end of the arena and involuntarily broke out into a cold sweat.  It was back.  Sadly, I rode to the safe end and did circles.  After a while, I started to do some trotting--but only short distances.  His arena trot is so dramatically different than his trail trot, that it takes me some time to get used to it.  It is big--really big--and scary, too.  Once I get used to it, I manage pretty well, but if I am too scared to walk to the scary end of the arena, the last thing I am going to do is trot there.

Ellen just glided along on Dante.  He did some of the nicest trotting I ever saw him do.  Eventually, I just had Cole stand so we could watch.

And then, I noticed it stopped raining, so I suggested we go outside.  Ellen was a little nervous about that, and where I was relieved.  We are riding opposites.  We did go outside and ride on the loop, and both horses were terrific.  I was just very bothered by what happened to me in the arena.  

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