One of my biggest joys in riding is having happy horses. This means that I accept each horse for who he/she is, the job he wants to do, and I take lessons to improve in that direction. When someone tells me they want to start riding after watching my ride, that is usually enough to make me not care that my ride didn’t win any top scores or ribbons in a show.
There are a lot of little body language things that horses use to communicate this to us, and for me, walking up to me and happily grabbing the bit for a ride is a big indicator.
Thursday night, after what was a good lesson the day before, Bali turned and walked away from me. Only a few steps, but this is rare behavior. I possibly should have just taken the hint and given her a day off, but I walked to her and took her in for a ride. Then, she adamantly did not want to put on her bridle. I wstill kept on, I put my finger on her gums to get her to open her mouth and then we rode, but she just was not into it.
This put me down my path of worry that I had done too much. Is that last little bit of being on the bit going to be too much for Bali? Is her fitness not good enough for that? Was she just a little bit sore from that new carriage and I should have just given her a day off?
After about 20 minutes of Bali feeling not her usual, willing self, she found her forward and seemed a bit more herself. I kept the ride short, already feeling bad that I probably had done a bit too much without enough cool down the night before. She was back to her normal, affectionate attitude (to me…she is rather aloof with others ) that night when I took out her grazing muzzle. I gave her Friday off, and I will make sure to get a trail ride in to have a fun day, and I will try to listen a bit more closely next time.
To me, harmonious rides are more important than higher scores or ‘better’ dressage. I hope this is just a minor fitness issue because Bali seemed ok with it while doing the initial work and I do want to learn to ride the upper level horse.