The best present I ever received .. a riding arena! Thanks Tonji!
It took a lot of convincing to get Tonji to give up more square meters of land to the horses, but I told him I needed it for my safety! Back in the day, I quit taking English riding lessons because I didn’t want to spend my time riding inside an arena. So boring! I wanted to go trail riding! And now that I have a farm full of trails, I want an arena! Hayyy! No wonder Tonji was so resistant to the idea.
Horses, it turns out, are maintenance on four legs. They are either getting better or getting worse. Even if you buy the most expensive, most well-trained horse in the world, he will not stay that way without training. And you have to earn the horse’s respect. It can’t be passed on. So even if I did the right thing by starting off with well trained horses, I still have to train them. I have to make sure that they know that I know what they know. You know?
I’m following the Clinton Anderson training program. The first part is groundwork. You make the horse move his feet forwards, backwards, left and right while you are on the ground. Then there are riding exercises. Clinton Anderson says to do the riding exercises in a “safe, controlled environment like an arena”. He also says you could do the exercises in a pasture. I tried. Maybe if I were a horse whisperer or had more skills or was gutsier, I wouldn’t need an arena. But I got stuck at riding exercise # 3 Cruising Lesson. The goal of that lesson is to teach the horse “cruise control”. He should be able to trot for 10 minutes straight without you steering him or prompting him in any way. Then to canter for 5 minutes straight, without steering or prompting. You’re just supposed to let the horse go wherever he wants as long as he doesn’t slow down or speed up. When I tried the Cruising Lesson in my old makeshift arena, I ended up stuck in the trees!
And so Tonji agreed to build me an arena. My idea was to make it just like the one of Marco L. in Lipa, 40m x 50m, sand footing, flat as a pancake. But Tonji refused to cut down a single tree, bring in a bulldozer, or fill the area with sand. So instead I have a 30m x 60m, flattish, fenced-in grass area. I’m glad he insisted. I enjoy the grass and the trees. There’s a Pied Bushchat couple that hangs out by the fence. I can hear Grey-backed Tailorbirds in the bushes. There are Long-tailed Shrikes and Pied Trillers in the trees.
Right outside the arena there’s a patch of Lantana camara, which is toxic to horses, cattle, and other animals. But it’s also a sweet little butterfly feeding zone!
And two colorful moths.
Thank you to Romana Pahilanga delo Reyes from the Paruparozzis: Butterfly Watchers of the Philippines Facebook Group for the butterfly IDs!
My training program is now back on track! No more running into trees. Batman though, has managed to come up with new ways to alarm me.
Weird New Things Batman Has Done Since We Started Riding in The New Arena:
1. Shake his entire body, while I was riding him. It was just like when a wet dog shakes off water from his body, except that he was totally dry.
2. Rub his butt on the fence.
3. Roll on the ground with his saddle and bridle on! Twice. Good thing I was not on him at the time. I got off to do more groundwork because of the butt rubbing which was followed by pawing on the ground.
4. Pawing on the ground. One horse website says that there are different kinds of pawing, and one of them means: “Check it out. – The paw is softer with head in a low position. This sign is usually seen when a horse wants to roll in unfamiliar ground, it is checking the ground condition. During scent locating, some horses will also communicate with their riders using this sign. “
Takoy is still the same, steady horse with a tendency is to slow down.
I like to think the horses are getting better! Happy Anniversary to you too Tonji!