Friday I rode Tex for the first time. Brett's ridden him quite a few times since we bought him but no one has ridden him since Brett came off last August. I've been doing a lot of ground work with Tex since January. We started with haltering and then worked on standing at the tie rail and at the mounting block. Mostly, though, we were working on building a bond of trust; trust going both ways. We've made huge progress and a few weeks ago I started thinking about getting on. The weather finally cooperated and I used my day off work to ride both Lucy and Tex.
Brett was nervous about me riding Tex. He told me later that he prayed all night long that I would be okay. And he was really nervous when I went out to ride. He came along and took pictures. Fortunately he didn't tell me how worried he was; I knew he was a bit apprehensive but had no idea how deep it ran. Of course, he's come off of Tex three times and he didn't want it to happen to me. I get that and I would not have gotten on if I didn't feel safe. He told me that when I was getting ready to swing my leg over Tex's back, he was praying "Dear Lord, don't let her come off... she's the breadwinner." When he told me that at dinner tonight, I almost spit my wine across the table I was laughing so hard.
Tex was very good for me at the tie rail. I didn't tie him. I draped the lead rope over the tie rail so he wouldn't step on it but I didn't loop it at all. It just hung loose. At the mounting block he stood perfectly still. Lordy, he's a big horse. And he's twice as wide as Lucy. I felt like I was sitting on a Mack truck.
We didn't do a lot. We walked around the arena, mostly. I wanted him to relax, not worry, be confident and happy. We accomplished all that. He sighed a lot; licked his lips; dropped his head and stretched over his back.
We did a little backing. Once he figured out what I wanted, he backed from my seat. We tried a bit of trot but he seemed uncomfortable so I didn't push it. I praised him everytime he tried to understand and do what I asked.
Afterwards, I stood next to him while he grazed on the tall grass growing outside the pasture fence. He would lift his head periodically, turn to me, and let me rub his forehead before returning to the grass. For Tex, who gives new meaning to the term "head shy," it was a huge demonstration of trust and of how far we've come.