For the past few months, we have been slowly getting Dyna into riding shape. SAFE volunteer Jane has been doing groundwork and trot poles help her gain some stamina and balance without having to carry a rider. Three weeks ago, I started riding her and slowly have increased the amount of time and work asked of her. She has remained sound and happy with the work.
In the beginning, Dyna was a bit nervous. Not knowing much of her history, I am always cautious. She could have been an angel on the ground and a bucking bronco under saddle for all we knew. But luckily we got along with no major issues. By my assessment, she may have had a rider in the past with strong hands who used spurs. She was concerned that my leg might kick her. Her reaction to the rein felt ready to brace against me and root which is typical of horses who have had riders take up contact without a release or soft hands. Once she realized that I am a very patient rider and that I wasn’t going to ask more than she was capable of doing, she relaxed. We had a ton of releases the first days with good deep breaths and lots of yawning. Every day since has built upon the last. She remembers what we had worked on and is continually improving her flexibility and lightness. She isn’t ready to use two reins just yet but she is doing well on one rein and starting to listen to my seat. Another sign that things are improving is that her mouth is getting quieter as she realizes that there is a release to the pressure immediately when she gives.
After the first week of riding and checking her out, I felt comfortable enough to let Jane begin cooling her out for me and have since worked up to having Jane ride for her from the start of the work sessions. It is important to us that she is safe for our volunteers to ride and having them able to get on her without issue helps us know that we can begin showing her to potential adopters. Jane is doing a wonderful job.
Don’t let this senior mare fool you, Dyna has a TON of life left in her! She sometimes needs to kick up her heels and play before getting to work. We always check out our riding horses with a little groundwork before riding and Dyna on a few occasions has needed that to get out some playfulness. We already have taken her out on the trails and she was relaxed and confident about her surroundings. She is going to make someone an amazing safe partner to enjoy both for light arena work and trails. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this great mare!
Here are some photos of Jane working with Dyna at Safe Harbor Stables.