Hey guys! I'm alive, I promise! ..Even though I've been sorely neglecting the writing aspect of blogging as of late.
But hey, you at least got some interesting (in my opinion) pictures while I was running around over break!
You didn't miss too much. As you can tell if you saw any of the pics, riding was a big factor. And lots and lots of brushing and love for Orion. I was so proud of him the whole time! I completely anticipated having to fight with him over cleaning his feet the first Saturday that I was with him, as per the normal first-couple-of-days-after-I've-been-away-for-a-long-time routine. Imagine my surprise when, instead of putting all of his weight on the first leg I ask him to pick up (it's the one that took longest to heal and he always gives me grief with), I barely had to encourage him, and the foot was immediately in my hand. Good boy! I was shocked and then elated. Apparently those ground manners lessons and that day working with feet in particular over Christmas break got through to him. He was a perfect gentleman, with only one or two exceptions, the entire week.
One personal milestone I overcame (albeit a little shakily) was loping - for the first time since my fall during Thanksgiving break. I've been too timid to go above a trot since then, even though it's Orion, who has a much smoother gate than the pony I was on and listens to me much better. I learned to completely trust him last week, which is something I haven't done yet while riding, by no fault of his. After the fall, I was so nervous something would happen every time we went faster than a walk, that I didn't trust him or myself, and I didn't completely realize it at the time. Once I tried fixing that mistake last week though, things changed. With the exception of the first ten minutes of our ride on Wednesday, he responded to every cue I gave him instantly and he didn't try to fight with me at all. We loped uphill, which is how I've been informed is easiest way to learn and get used to) twice on Sunday. It was a group ride with four of us, and the first hill is one I have only let him trot in the past. I knew he wanted to go though, and everyone else was going to, so I grabbed some mane, gave him a little rein, clucked, and there he went! I was sitting so stiff because I was nervous and not used to it that Carly told me she could tell I looked nervous - and I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. - lol
The second time was tons better - it felt amazing in fact. It was a huge hill that seemed to go on forever, and most of the others actually ran it. And while I was trying to test myself that day, running was not on my list of things to do just yet. I gave him more rein again and just let him do what he wanted up the first half of the hill - which apparently was just to trot. Halfway up, I decided I actually wanted to go again, so I just tried to relax, barely touched my heel to his side and smooched, and boom! We took off again, but this time I was more balanced and relaxed and actually loved the whole experience. My friends said I actually looked pretty good (they were already at the top and had a full view), which made me happy. The thing that made me happiest of all though, was that I felt like I had a connection with Orion during that experience. That sounds really corny and cliche, I know, but I don't know how else to describe it. It just felt like we were really working together, and that's how it was for the rest of the week, too.
We had a couple of happenings on Wednesday. For some odd reason that I still can't comprehend, Orion suddenly decided as we were about to ride out that he didn't like the gate that we always ride through. Every time we got within 3 feet of it, he instantly stopped, and instead of walking forward when I asked him to, he went every way but - backwards, sideways, you name it, he did it. At one point, he backed himself into a brush pile, and at another got so close to my friend's horse that he nearly got himself kicked. I ended up having to dismount and go into the barn to get my crop. :( I hate using it, even though I don't use it excessively. I'd rather he listen to my other cues instead, but for some reason, that day he just didn't want to. After about 10 minutes of fighting with him after he had first balked, he finally walked though, although a little stiffly and unhappily. Once we had been on the road for a few minutes, he straightened up and was perfect for the rest of the ride. We even got to semi-chase down and catch my friend's horse after they had a fall and the horse decided to head back home. He got some extra brushing and attention when we got back for being able to pull that off. :)
All in all, those were the main highlights of my break. I may embellish with a few more stories later, but for now, I feel I've rambled enough. :)