Today was the first day in almost 7 months that I have ridden Ella. I’m almost 4 weeks postpartum since having baby girl and I’ve been itching to get back in the saddle for so long! It was beautiful outside, the perfect day for a ride! When we pulled up to the barn, all the mares were way out in the pasture enjoying the lush grass. I grabbed her halter and headed out. She walked right up to me as if to say “hey mom, whatcha doing? Haven’t seen you in a few weeks!” She’s always been easy to catch, that’s one of the many things that I love about her! As we were walking back up to the barn, she started hollering to each of her buddies from all over the ranch. I’m thinking “great, this is how it’s going to be today.” Not being ridden in a while, I didn’t really know what to expect from her. We saddled up and I took her to the roundpen to longe her for a bit first. It took her a little while to calm down and give me a relaxed trot and lope, all while she’s still shouting for her friends. Oh Ella.
Once she seemed to mellow out and pay attention, I tightened the cinch and climbed aboard. I flexed her on both sides like I always do. At first, she was a little stiff. No biggie. She softened right up, and I asked her to move out to evaluate exactly where she was mentally at that moment. Surprise, surprise, she was still more interested in her buddies in the pasture than paying attention to me. I decided that today’s session would just consist of taking her through her paces, backing, sidepassing, and pivoting once or twice, just enough to get her soft and listening well.
After a few laps, I started feeling that connection that I was aiming for. She just needed a little refresher. We then transitioned to a little bit of bridleless work. She gave me a solid “whoa” and backup from each gait (with no hands), and a great sidepass and flawless pivot with the neckrope. Right there was our opportunity to stop on a good note, and we did. I flexed her one more time, dismounted, and walked her out.
Was it the perfect session? Absolutely not. But that’s the reality of horses. Let’s be real – it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Some days seem perfect and flawless, and other days can make you question everything and start doubting yourself. Just remember that horses, like people, have a mind of their own, and have good days and bad (especially when they’ve had time off). What truly matters is how we react to them! Just take a step back, take a deep breath, and press forward.