In the spirit of achieving my single goal for the year, I rode Madigan on Friday. I hesitate to ride him very often, as he has two training rides a week and is not quite four years old. His training rides are age and ability appropriate- no one is asking him for collection or jumping or tiny circles- but I don’t want to overdo it physically or mentally.
But in order to successfully show him, I have to ride him! I’m competent enough to give him a decent ride, and he’s good natured enough to go along, but we’re still getting used to each other.
The forecast for the weekend was cold and damp, so I rode on Friday afternoon. Clouds were beginning to roll in, and the north wind was blowing, but I opted to ride in the outdoor anyway. I briefly longed Madigan, who obligingly shuffled along. I hopped on and felt excited. Here I was on my nice horse out for a nice ride on a nice day!
My optimism was short-lived. About five minutes into walking on a loose rein, a horse in a pasture adjacent to the arena started galloping around. (This horse just does that sometimes.) Madigan looked at him but wasn’t too concerned. Then the galloping horse goaded his pasturemate into galloping around, too. Madigan was a little distracted by this, but didn’t seem interested in also galloping around.
The two galloping horses upset the two cows they live with, so the cows did their own version of galloping around to get away from the horses. Of course, this alarmed the neighbors’ cows, who also live in a pasture adjacent to the outdoor arena. They began to gallop around. Madigan walked on his tiptoes but kept an ear back at me . Then, every animal (including Madigan) abruptly froze and stared into the distance. I briefly considered dismounting, but thought I could probably get us through this.
I couldn’t tell what caught their attention- no deer in the hay meadow, no loose horses, no dogs. Finally, way in the distance (seriously, like half a mile away), I noticed a herd of cattle chasing a feed truck in their pasture.
At this point, I became very annoyed. I was just out here minding my business and that chaos-causing, rabble-rousing horse in the pasture kicked off this entirely stupid and spooky chain of events! So I nudged Madigan with my heels to get his attention. Madigan squealed and hopped a couple of times. I stayed firm, booted him forward, and told him to put the hamsters back on the wheel.
Lo and behold, a couple of hamsters climbed back on. I persevered and gave him the easiest ride I could- lots of walking, a little trotting, emphasis on going forward. He was still distracted even after everyone settled down, but he attempted to do what I asked. I didn’t hold it against him, though. How could I? He’s young and naïve, and when I told him to get it together, he kind of did.
Madigan’s brain is easily my favorite thing about him. It’s great that he’s pretty and has good gaits. But it’s even better that he isn’t panicky and he trusts people enough to return his attention to them when asked. He always impresses me with his sensibility and willingness! I never feel like he’s going to accidentally kill us both scrambling to get away from something. Incidents like this make me think that showing and trail riding will be a lot of fun one day!