I’ve talked a little bit about the random fear I’ve developed in the… last almost 7 months (I’ve somehow missed Nay Nay’s 6 month anniversary) of the outdoor arena. But, for some reason, this ring scares me. Nay Nay isn’t spooky AT ALL. But he’s anxious.
When we started riding together in December, our first trip over to the barn was… a mess. Nothing bad happened, but he was a pile of anxiety and his brain leaked out of his ears pretty quickly (this also happened at home quite a few times in the early days). He never offered a buck or a rear, but he was on high alert and his motion was up and down vs forward. When we ended, he was done and I could barely get his halter back on and needed help to load him back on the trailer. This was NOT one of my finest moments.
Since then, Nay Nay has become a solid citizen. His ground manners have improved, I can control him, and he is used to the arena. We have our bad days, but for the most part, things are fine. We walk into the indoor and we are, more or less, home. Even after 10 weeks off, he was fine going back inside.
The outdoor? That’s been another story completely.
We’ve ridden out there once. On a very warm winter’s day, we had a lesson out there. And it went ok. We tried to ride out there on our last ride before his time off and… it didn’t happen. There was too much activity and he was just too stressed out so we rode inside instead. For me, the outdoor has just become this… big target that scares the shit out of me. Why? No clue. He was ridden out at the rescue. Probably because we’ve gotten so comfortable inside. And I hate riding inside. But it’s become my safety net.
But at least the outdoor has a fence. Or at least it did. It currently doesn’t. They just re-did the whole thing this past week to make it larger and there’s not a fence right now.
I picked up a lesson on Friday morning and it was hot and humid and gross. We rode inside. With the side door open for air (I’ve NEVER seen this door open ever, but…). The lesson was fine. We walked, we trotted, we cantered circles each way. It was good. Nay is crazy weak to the right and so is my right leg so it’s very hard getting him straight. Lol. Eventually, I may need to re-introduce spurs to help my leg out… I just can’t get him off my leg and there is only so much kicking I can do.
To end on, my trainer decided we were going to go outside and “walk around” which of course meant more than walk. The footing isn’t perfect yet and is a little deep which can make a looky horse tired. But, we walked and… nothing crazy happened. So we trotted. And circled and trotted around the whole arena (and one time around is exhausting). And we went the other way. And no one died. So we cantered.
The canter was less successful and I rushed the transition and we picked up the wrong lead. I wasn’t allowed to correct it so we cantered until I could correct it. And picked it up wrong again (he was distracted). He had a moment down the long side cantering on the wrong lead where there was a flashback to his life as a racehorse, but let’s all remember that he only won $1400… But, as I was reminded not to touch his mouth and just let him go, he slowed on his own after a couple tosses of his head and we cantered slowly on the wrong lead before walking (pulling = doing something wrong vs cantering slowly on the incorrect lead = perfectly OK).
After a successful intro to the outdoor, I made it my mission Sunday to try and ride out again. That said, a brief incident at home (Subi couldn’t find Jiminy before we left) left Nay Nay slightly anxious and he was still a bit anxious when we arrived. I thought about starting inside but made myself go out and work on the lunge line instead. So we lunged (a lot) and Nay Nay screamed, but whatever. I finally got on and he was OK. Tired, but OK. We trotted and trotted and occasionally screamed.
All screaming stopped when we were joined by another horse. 3 may be crowd, but he’s thrilled to have one horse with him.
I even cantered. I was nervous to the left as something bothered him right before we went to canter (no clue what), but we did it. The right lead? Absolutely perfect and likely one of our best right lead canters ever. So I’ll take it.
It may take me a while to get comfortable outside (and a fence would help), but we’ve taken the first step.
aw those are great pics ❤ and yea, i totally get feeling nervous about the outdoor, esp one without a fence! with charlie, i could do a lot of hand-walking every day around all our arenas before our first rides in them, since obvi he lived at that farm (and, um, yea. fence). it's just so hard with a new horse to know how they're going to react to every new thing… sounds like so far Nay has done a really great job with everything you're introducing him to. soon enough hopefully he'll get his first trail ride too!!
Definitely! Having a fence would definitely help me! LOL! Nay takes everything in. It’s just hard because he’s not spooky or hot, but he is anxious which is another thing entirely. He’s better when his brain is engaged so he doesn’t have time to worry or stress. But, soon this ring will be old hat.
And trail riding. Hopefully we can try that when things get more normal!
Isn’t it crazy how those mental blocks get in there? You can logic all you want, there’s nothing different about X than Y but it just doesn’t help at all. I’m glad you guys had a couple of good experiences outside.
Its hard to break down those mental walls we all build and then when we do it feels fantastic! Great job forcing yourself outside and doing it anyway
I get that way too. The indoor just feels so safe with the walls all around you. But the more you go out, the easier it gets. Shiny took about a week of rides to settle completely outside.