|My cellphone doesn't do too bad when there's enough light.|
Last time I did this we ended up feeding each other's fears, and she kept getting startled by little green men in the bushes because I was so tense and scared of those sudden movements. Then I had this riding belt on her that is basically just a leather belt with stirrups. I've used it mostly for mounting and as a makeshift help tool if she starts trotting and/or makes these unexpected sudden movements. I don't like riding with the belt because it makes you sit closer to the center of the horse's back than where you'd normally sit, and then with the stirrups, you'll end up sitting in a so called 'chair-seat', which is very uncomfortable position. My back gets very tense and due to that everything else does too.
Since I ended up with a broken arm when a pony got startled under me before Christmas, it's been hard to encourage myself mentally to handle these unexpected situations better (to go on and stay calm and as relaxed as possible). I hadn't ridden Pretti by myself and/or bare-back since that incident mentioned above, but this week I've been thinking a lot about this problem and I decided not to make a mountain out of a molehill and just get on with it.
I decided not to put the riding belt on her, so I could sit in the correct place and position, although I was certain that if she got startled and trotted more than a few steps, I'd be down on the ground in a heartbeat. The first time I ever rode bare-back was about a year ago and I haven't trotted much. Last time I trotted at all (on purpose and bare-back) was last summer.
So I brushed Pretti all clean and shiny, and put some padding and a reflector 'blanket' on (so we'd be visible enough on the driveway) and headed out. First I walked her for about 10 minutes and then I mounted her using a tall stool. Everything went well and I made a few 'two-step' trot transitions and other stuff. We went for about 45 minutes.
At the end she did get startled by something and started to trot. To my huge amazement I stayed on! Surely I did cling against her neck like a scared little chimp, but I stayed on!! I was startled, tense and nervous, but SO happy that I didn't fall off. I didn't wanna push my luck so I just made a few circles with her and then got down. We walked for about 15 minutes and then got back in.
I'm telling you, I'm pretty damn proud of myself. After all, you can't really prevent the horse from getting startled and reacting to it, but you can learn to deal with it. I have fallen off of Pretti many times due to these situations (even with a saddle), so I guess it's only natural to develop a little fear of it, especially after falling off of that pony and breaking my arm. But I'm learning how to handle the situations both mentally and physically and right now I feel like I have taken a step forward after taking many many many steps backwards during these last couple of months. I'm happy :)