Saturday was my birthday, so I had a bit of a birthday week last week. I went hiking on Wednesday. I took Friday off of work. I bought myself some clothes I’ve been eyeing on Amazon. I got Amber and I some tack (because her bday is April 20, so close enough right? lol). I usually don’t take days off of work or anything for things like birthdays, but it was a good excuse to make myself take time for me – a bit of a mental health day, wanting to do something for me to bolster my spirits. And of course – determining to ride Amber around – hence the new tack.
Even her western saddle is a little big on her right now with all her muscle loss, so I “needed” a breastcollar that would help the saddle stay forward. I went back and forth on A LOT of breastcollars, worried that they were all actually too small (I wasn’t wrong). So I found the longest one, and coincidentally it had a matching bridle, AND the design matched the collar I bought Choco about a month or so ago, so I mean it’s meant to be, right? So, it came home with me.
I know Amber misses riding as do I, but I’m taking it really slow in terms of riding. I’ve looked back through memories, and put together that when she started grinding her teeth was most likely around the time her laminitis was really bad, and it was around that time I took to hand walking instead of riding since I didn’t want and was hoping that she wouldn’t associate riding with pain. Since her foot has grown a lot of sole and we’ve moved to the cloud boots, I’ve saddled her up a few times, but she’s been very wary when I throw that saddle on. So I do think she associates riding with being in pain, but as usual she shows her discomfort very subtly. So I’ve been going slow, making sure I’m riding western, and playing around with a few buttons but trying to make her understand these are in no way training rides.
She was wary at first, but when I rode her Friday, I knew that one of the only ways to show her that it won’t be as bad is to actually have her do it. So we loped. Just down a long side, and she was acting a little cold-backed, but I knew she was just expecting something bad. But the reins were loose, and I sat back on her, and it felt just like the old times as she eased into it. We slowed, and then walked around while I patted her and spoke to her. She had her fast walk going, and was certainly expecting more, but I hopped off shortly after, just hoping that she got the right idea.
I think she did. She full on pushed the side of her face along my chest and stomach, and actually let me hold her head for far longer than she usually likes me to. Best birthday gift ever, that moment.
Saturday she was super happy, and gave me a bit of a wary glance when I saddled her but the moment we got in the arena she walked around and felt super content. We jogged the teensiest bit, and after she didn’t have her fast walk – just her relaxed one, so I think I’m on the right track. It was a great walk ride.
Sunday I hopped on with a bareback pad. I had wanted to saddle up and walk again, but I figured in keeping with our these-are-super-chill-rides-with-only-minimal-expectations a bareback ride was still perfect. She had no wariness as I tossed the pad on her, and she opened her mouth to grab the bit. That alone made me confident in my decision. Well, that and she got super upset at Whisper when I handled her because mother must never handle another horse when she can see. Yes, dear. She gets that way when we’ve been riding a lot lol. So we walked around easily, both of us happy and very relaxed. I had her spin a little, just to play around. Perfect end to a really great birthday, made even better because I had determined to make it a good birthday.
I gave her a “break” again after that. She got turned out in the arena to wander the next few days. She’s always been a wanderer, but being cooped up in her stall has now REALLY made her wander all over the arena lol. Which is great. She’s out for 20 minutes or an hour and half, and enjoys her time out.
Either way, it was a perfect weekend.