Monday, January 11, 2010

Riding Galahad

I had a chance to ride Galahad out on the trail Sunday afternoon, something I’ve never done before. The weather was still cold but warmer than it had been the week before, and the ground was snow-covered. We followed Romeo, an experienced trail horse, so that Galahad would know where he was supposed to go. Galahad is still learning about steering.

He actually performed quite well. He spent a lot of time looking around and leaning this way and that, so it was obvious that he would have loved to just take off and run, but he didn’t. He was wearing his bridle and snaffle bit, but I had the reins looped over the saddle horn and was guiding him with the rope halter. All it took was light pressure on the rope reins to get him back on track. When he started tossing his head, I just spoke sternly to him, and he quit.

The problem, if there was one, was me: I was on the alert, not quite nervous but getting there, the entire time. Understandable, since I’m an inexperienced rider and he’s only been ridden 20 times or so—not much for a trail horse! But Galahad is exceptionally willing and calm for his age, and I’m a dancer with good balance, a good feel for my “partner’s” signals, and quick reflexes. It’s unlikely that I’ll get dumped. Still, I worry.

I did hop off when we encountered a young couple being dragged along the trail by their pit bull mix who seemed very interested in Galahad. I didn’t want to take the chance. Galahad, predictably, made no fuss at all. Later on I led him to a bench along the trail, where our groundwork on sidestepping up to walls, benches, and mounting blocks paid dividends. I was able to mount without any difficulty. However, when I went to bend his head toward the bench, he spooked and hopped backward several steps. Instinctively, I just rode it out, turned him, and got him stopped. No fuss, no problem, no nerves, in that moment. So, what’s my problem? I do just fine when the chips are down!

This seems to typify my biggest obstacle to riding, and maybe to success in life in general. In my mind I rehearse all the possible bad outcomes of everything I undertake. Why don’t I rehearse the optimal ones? It would certainly be more helpful than what I’m doing now. No answers, at the moment.

Think I’ll try that. Visualize positive outcomes. Yup. Just as soon as I’m sure Galahad won’t dump me off….

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