After about a month and a half of no riding, the time had finally come today for the first lesson of the autumn semester. Naturally, I looked forward to it a lot, but I was also (as always) concerned about the weigh-in, given how tight they are with the limits on the smaller horses (including Murphy). Fortunately, I had managed to shed that extra kilo or two added earlier during the summer, so I’m fine for another semester. Hopefully the training I’ve started doing (I am trying out some Pilates, as I’ve seen that recommended for riders before) will help me keep them off even over Christmas.
There had been a few changes in the stables over the summer, as one horse had had to be put down (Aina), one had been sold (Roxette, a small pony who didn’t quite like being at a riding school) and one had been returned as unsuitable (Ikaros, who turned out to have some loose bone fragments in one leg), but the rest were fine. For once, Murphy seems to have gone through the summer without any injuries, and I was very happy to get assigned to him. Even though he did turn out to be extremely dirty.
At first, Murphy didn’t seem too happy to see me, probably because a) he had food he thought I might steal and b) I had to give him a thorough brushing to get the caked mud off, but pretty soon we re-established the ground rules. Like, no biting off Linda’s head. He mostly kept to said rules, even when getting his girth tightened down in the arena, and he didn’t try to act silly when I mounted up either. So far, so good.
Getting him to play along once I was on his back was a different story, however. First, he wanted to get closer to the new horse, Winston. Not sure if he had nice or naughty thoughts on his mind, but he was very curious about him. Winston, alas, didn’t seem to like Murphy one bit. I suspect he’s fairly low ranking (he’s a very peculiar colour, a grey skewbald, but basically he’s grey/white, and in a mixed herd they often rank at the bottom), and may have felt intimidated by Murphy.
Apart from wanting to chase down Winston, Murphy decided it was time to pull out his whole bag of avoiding work tricks. At first, he wouldn’t move straight ahead, but kept drifting one way or the other. Once we had had a serious talk about that, he decided to try the full speed ahead approach, and that lasted for most of the remainder of the class. Walk was fine, and we managed some pretty nice transitions to canter (I kept still, whee) thanks to him being pretty energized, but the trot was much too hurried and I had two tons of horse in my hands.
I tried to set him back more on his hindlegs, and I did manage to do so for shorter stretches, but I wasn’t really able to make a lasting impression on him today. He had far too much energy and was clearly in need of being reminded just who is in charge when he’s being ridden. I did get him to stop testing me in more obvious ways, but he wasn’t very cooperative about doing the right kind of work. He may also, I suppose, be a little out of shape after having had only light work the last two weeks and a full month’s rest prior to that.
On the whole, given the kind of exercises we did and given that I haven’t ridden for some weeks, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t get any further with him today. Since next week is a theory class and since I’ll miss the week after that if I end up going to the WorldCon, I am pondering whether I will try to get a private lesson later this week or early next. It may be better to wait a couple of weeks, actually.