11.11.24: Thankful for a Good Seat

Thanksgiving weather turned out beautiful, so I managed to sneak a ride in on a quiet afternoon in the barn. Storm was filthy so I took everything outside in the sun and spent a while grooming him trying to get all the dirt out of his coat. It was a rather futile effort, but I tried. We I had finally had enough of eating dirt, and tacked up. Since it was the first ride after his body work the week before I set him up in the long lines when we got down to the arena. I wanted to check him out visually before I climbed up and see how he was doing.
He seemed to be a bit more of his old self again and was a little bit more squirrely than he had been over the past few weeks. I took it slow and waited until he could settle down again, which took a while. We started out to the left, and he was quite concerned with everything going on around him and not as focused as he had been when he wasn't feeling as well. I kept hearing snorting noises from the other side of the arena, even though there weren't any other horses in the arena with me, and I knew the geldings group was not out in the back pasture so it couldn't have come from them. After several laps I finally noticed that there were 3 deer bedded down towards the other end of the arena at the edge of the trees. I don't know if Storm really noticed that they were there, but he wasn't reacting too much to them. We continued to work and I made sure to keep a bit of an eye on them just in case.
We worked to the left until I felt like we were getting some semblance of consistency, and so we switched around and headed to the right. He struggled some, but I didn't feel that it was near as bad as it had been prior. We worked for a while trying to find the consistency that he had to the left. I was watching for the deer, and at first I had trouble seeing them. Brown shapes against the brown trees behind a brown fence and I couldn't figure out where they were anymore. Finally I was able to identify the three of them again, and I felt a little better as we continued to work. It was an interesting experience and must be similar to how it feels for a horse to see something from one perspective and view the same object from another perspective and have it feel totally foreign. I kept a sharp eye on them as we continued to work and eventually Storm settled down a bit. He had a small spook as the breeze kicked up, but managed himself very well.
I wrapped up the long lines and clipped on his reins and got set up to climb on and he brought me the saddle easily. I decided to do a few laps with my stirrups and then was going to work a
little more on riding without the stirrups like we had in our previous lesson. We hadn't even made it a quarter of a lap into the center of the arena when suddenly Storm spun to the left and headed for the safe corner of the arena back the way we came. He turned around to look as what was scary and I expected to find that the deer had bolted. Nope. The deer stood. up. That was it. ONE deer, not even all three. Just one deer stood up. Not only had it spooked Storm, but Lily was up on the hill where Erin had her grazing and she was startled too. I settled back into the saddle correctly, picked up my left stirrup which had disappeared during the scramble, reorganized my reins and then get moving again. He never quite wanted to go all the way over to where we were before, but I was ok with him simply staying calm. We had to do a few small circles when his head would go up worrying about something, but that usually corrected the issue and we could ride on. It was a challenge for me to manage my emotions so that I didn't get sucked into his, but we managed to settle down and continue working.
(picture of his footprints where he took off)
I didn't feel like we did as well riding as I would have liked, but considering we survived a spook without too much trouble it was a pretty decent success! We changed directions after a while and reorganized again and continued on. The deer laid down at some point but it was uneventful, for which I was grateful. I didn't ride for too much longer before calling it a day. That was plenty of excitement for one afternoon!
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11.12.11: Go Left and Keep Turning Right