I had been slowly working with Zane all week in anticipation of riding him at the end. I knew he would be a pain, having been a total pasture ornament for more than 4 years. The last time he'd had anyone on his back was exactly 4 years ago, when he gave a man the ride of his life (and nearly death).
Too bad he's removed the video.
Anyway, before that it had been since I was pregnant with Jake that I'd ridden him. I wasn't afraid of him because honestly he's always been a very level headed and quite lazy mount. But I did want to make sure his ground manners were somewhat present and that the gas, steering and brakes all worked without any backfires.
So the first day I went into the pasture with a halter and lead and a handful of carrots. It became apparent fairly quickly that he was herd bound with his little band of mares. It took a swat with the end of the lead to get him to take even one step away from them. The next day, I took my dressage whip. He was a bit more attentive, but still didn't want to go far from the mares.
The next day he seemed to be listening a bit better so after our leading session I knotted the end of the lead through the other side of the halter and hopped on him. With the mares right in front of him (and my Dad telling me the whole time that I was nuts) we walked forward a few steps, left a couple, right a couple and whoa'd. Then I hopped off.
My plan was to lunge him without tack the next day, with tack the day after and the day after that I would actually ride. But then it started raining. And raining. And raining. And three days went by and then it was Saturday and I was determined to ride even if it meant we both got drenched.
Once I penned up the mares, the bugling started. It never really stopped, but he did quit doing it constantly after a while. Once he saw the actual tack, and realized I meant to *gasp* put it on him, the nervous pacing started.
At this point I was basically making him walk circles around me if he wouldn't stand still. My proper saddle pad was filthy and sopping wet from my ineffectual efforts to clean it with the hose, so I was trying to use this western saddle blanket. It didn't work out, and eventually I just went with no pad. Also, I'm well aware that the noseband is all jacked up. I didn't want it to be tight at all so he wouldn't feel trapped.
Getting the girth on took a while. He would walk in circles for 5 minutes, then stop for 1. As soon as I went to tighten the girth around we went again.
Eventually I got him all tacked up, got my helmet and gloves on and asked Dad to bring me the lunge line.
Course, I hadn't been able to find my lunge whip so I was stuck using the dressage whip. He did figure that out... eventually. But not before any suggestion that he work caused a nice little buck and kick out maneuver. Jason was on camera duty and wasn't able to get any of pictures of those.
So around and around we went until the head came down a bit and he started listening to me. And then...
I was up! As an aside, I'm so making myself a mounting block before my next trip down there. Getting him to stand next to the fence long enough for me to haul my butt into the saddle was a royal pain.
He's mid whinny here. See his nostrils? Haha. My goal was to stay off his sides, and as light on his back and mouth as possible. We did big figure 8's in the front yard, never getting close enough to the horizon line for him to see the mares (who were penned up down the hill). I didn't want to push it.
I can't tell if it's because I'm fat, or the grass is so high or what but I feel like I look really big on him. Like he's a pony or something. But he's a solid 15.2hh.
One of the better halts, near the end. Course, he's still looking for the ladies.
The whole thing left me with a huge grin. My Dad said he was amazed Zane did so well. I told him you just have to be patient, and he said that you really had to be more stubborn than the horse. :)