The seemingly endless winter here in New England finally seems to have ended! The snow has melted and the mud dried up, so we took the plastic off the chicken coop, and started cleaning up around the farm. I even put a saddle on Maeve and went for a short ride.
Getting Into Maeve’s Head
After a longer than usual layoff, it took an effort to get Maeve’s head back in the game. Like many horses, Maeve has a short attention span, loves exploring but hates anything that’s different. The thing with Maeve is that it’s all amplified. She takes every behavior and reaction to the extreme. If Maeve had a sleeve, she’d wear her heart on it. Not a thought passes through her mind that she doesn’t express in some fashion or other. Animated is a good descriptor. When Maeve is on, she’s instantly responsive and completely willing. There’s not a better horse. Of course, if she’s off… well, there’s still not a better horse.
Ground Work Pays Off
Physically, Maeve can rebound from her winter sag in a short time. Getting her into a good mental state, however, takes consistent work. Preparation for the ride took longer than the ride itself. We started with ground work at liberty in the field. I’ve been working Maeve at liberty for the 11 years we’ve been together. She enjoys it, and so do I.
Working with an unconstrained equine requires good horse – human language skills. If you can’t keep her engaged, she can just walk, or run, away. Working in a large area gives her plenty of room to hide. That’s all part of the fun. It starts with her usual evade and avoid tactics, and then she starts getting interested. Ultimately, she’s completely engaged and responds instantly to my directions with just a subtle cue. It becomes a dance. When Maeve’s in tune, she gets a soft eye, a sweet disposition and gives me 100% attention. She’s ready for a saddle.
Now, the Ride
The ride was slow and easy, and completely enjoyable. We stayed close and didn’t push hard. Even after the layoff, Maeve felt strong and confident. It won’t take long to get her into riding shape. Here’s a picture of us doing figure eights around a couple of trees. It’s a great practice for bending and footing. The other picture shows Maeve’s soft eye with her ears focused on me.
It’s another beautiful day today. Maybe we’ll venture out a little farther.