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Riley the pony looking over his stable door

Riley Runs Away

On Monday morning I arrived at the yard and tacked up Riley to ride in the indoor school.  We did walk, trot and poles on the ground in walk.  For the most part he was good however did start to misbehave towards the end by stopping and I had to push him on.
Riley and I working In The School
I turned out and mucked out as usual and then went home until it was time to return and bring him in.  I arrived at the yard and the other horses on the yard had been bought in, so he was in the field with the horses that live out. He doesn’t walk to the gate when he sees me, I always seem to walk over to him which I did and put his headcollar on. We started the journey back to the stables which involves walking through another field, past the manege, then onto the yard and past other stables before reaching the barn where he lives.  He was very good as he usually is until he saw a lady lunging her tiny Shetland pony and it all went horribly wrong. He put his head up in the air higher than I had seen before so I reassured him and tried to keep him calm as we headed towards the gate of the other field and just as were about to come out of the field he ran off and I lost the lead rope.  As he had stopped, I walked over to him to once again walk him through the field.  I took the lead rope off and led him by his head collar so that if he did run off again, he wouldn’t have the lead rope dangling.  As we arrived at the gate, I once again attached his lead rope and he once again ran off. I knew this was now a tricky situation and so I decided it was best to ask for help from someone on the yard who came to my rescue and bought Riley in for me although not very easily as he was spooking and objecting and then when he got into the yard he slipped and landed on his knees before making it to the barn. I always like to tie him up outside his stable, so I did that and took off the outdoor rug and put on the stable rug.  He stood quietly and you wouldn’t have known about the experience we had just had.  I then led him into the stable and he began happily munching his haylage with everything else forgotten. I came home wondering what had happened and feeling upset as it had taken me by surprise, and it made me question if I was the right owner for Riley.

I quickly jumped off in fear

The following morning, I decided to ride Riley before I had my usual Tuesday lesson on one of the riding school horses.  I woke up extremely anxious and had intermittent teary moments which I carried with me to the stables, so everything just seemed too much.
Putting on a Brave Face
I went ahead with riding Riley although felt very on edge so when someone else wanted to come into the school with their horse I jumped off immediately scared how Riley might react.  I then took him the manege and walked him round and when he put his head up because he could see horses galloping in the distance I quickly jumped off once again in fear of what might happen. I led him back to the stable feeling despondent wondering if I had the confidence that he needed me to have. My riding lesson was on Paddy a horse that I had ridden plenty of times and one that I feel very safe riding, so I had a good lesson.

Feeling Like a Failure

When I returned to the stables on Tuesday evening to bring him in from the field, I was deep down apprehensive although tried to keep myself calm and visualise myself bringing Riley in without any issues. I was only partially successful as he did look startled a couple of times however, I managed to keep him walking and we made it to this stable.  I tied him up outside as I usually do to change rugs and took the turnout rug off and put his stable rug on.  He was becoming increasingly agitated and kept moving around and he wasn’t at all relaxed so I thought the best course of action was to get him into his stable as soon as possible so he could calm down and have his haylage.  I hadn’t finished putting his stable rug on properly as I thought once he was eating I would do it then.  This proved difficult as he was grabbing some haylage, walking quickly round the stable and then peering over the door so I didn’t feel safe and stood outside the stable until he calmed down.  This once again made me upset as I was feeling like a failure.

The Great Escape

On Wednesday morning I had a lesson booked with Heather and after some challenges tacking up one of which is him objecting to his girth being tightened, we made our way into the indoor school.  I stepped on to the mounting block and Heather held Riley however he was moving around so much it was impossible to mount.  So, Heather walked him round to the other side of the block and I got on him that way.  The lesson itself was helpful.  Riley was fighting against the bit and Heather told me just to ignore all his antics and carry on riding so that’s what we did and worked on walk and trot. After the lesson, I turned him out as normal for the remainder of they day and then started mucking out his stable and filling his haynet. After about half an hour, I heard a commotion in the yard and discovered that a tree had been blown over and had taken a fence down and some of the horses had escaped. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Riley was one of the four horses to have absconded so along with a few of the yard staff, headed out to find them and bring them back. We found Riley and his friends having a high old time in the neighbouring farmer’s crop field and set about trying to round them up whilst attempting to avoid any further damage to the poor old farmer’s turnips. After returning them to their grazing field, a fast fence repair was effected and the day continued as normal. As the Wednesday riding lesson had been so helpful, I booked another lesson for Thursday morning so once again after tacking up we headed into the indoor school and once again had difficulties mounting although once I was on board, he behaved much better.  Riley had the added distraction of another horse in the school and I was pleased with how well he dealt with it considering he hadn’t been keen to share the school before.  We once again walked and trotted and this time we added in some 20 metre circles.  Riley did have a spook by the door of the indoor school as some horses went passed and luckily, I stayed on board and he jumped sideways and stopped quickly.  I was beginning to start feeling positive again and on a bit of a high.

Not Tall Enough

Friday morning, I arrived at the stables with the intention to ride and after grooming began to tack up Riley.  He has never liked having his bridle put on however this day he fought against it and I lost count of how many failed attempts we had.  In the end I asked David on the yard for assistance as I wanted to see if there was something, I was doing wrong and it appeared not as he also struggled but got it on quickly by comparison.  Part of the problem for me is that Riley throws his head up in the air when putting the bridle on and being petite I can’t reach that high even though he is only 13.2hh. By the time we got the bridle on both the indoor and outdoor arenas were being used for lessons so I decided to walk Riley in hand for ten minutes up the lane behind the riding school as it is my intention to hack him up there.  It is a private lane and the only cars that use it are the homeowners of the handful of houses.  He was very alert walking up the lane as he is experiencing so many new things. Saturday morning, I didn’t ride so the plan was to turn him out and muck out and let him have a day off.  Before he can be turned out there is a change of rugs so off with his stable rug and put on his outdoor rug, this was easier said than done as he wouldn’t stand still and I was struggling to do the task safely.  I managed to get the stable rug off however couldn’t put his outdoor rug on as he just seemed more and more unsettled so I asked someone to put the rug on whilst I stood by his head and held his lead rope.

I just love him to pieces.

A Week of Ups and Downs for Riley and Me
Sunday morning, I was determined to ride so got to the stables early.  I started to brush his legs and he was once again moving around and I didn’t like the situation so I let someone else tack up as I wanted to keep calm for riding as I am already fearful and didn’t want to be stressed over both things. We mounted on the opposite side again so that we could ride, and I walked him round for about 25 minutes, changing the rein and halting.  Five minutes into our ride someone else came into the indoor school and they were trotting and cantering so I didn’t feel comfortable adding trot into the mix of things. I am finding that currently I am experiencing highs but also plenty of lows.  This evening when I arrived at the stables, they were already bringing the horses in and as I had put wood pellets down that morning, I hadn’t finished Riley’s stable like I normally do.  So it was a mad dash to finish his bed, refill his hay nets, bring him in and then after that he wouldn’t keep still whilst doing his rugs so it all just seemed hard and yet when all that is done and I am standing in his stable watching him munch his haylage I realise I just love him to pieces.  
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Sharon Howe

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