Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 2: Getting started

We started off the week with all sorts of good intentions. I pulled macho out and grabbed my tack from where I've been storing it in my office, only to find the Vienna reins were missing. I've never been in such a big barn, and I forget how important it is to never leave a thing out! Not sure if they got left in the arena, the tie rail, or actually were taken out of my office. Hope they show up, but will have to rethink the lunging plan.

So with the loss of equipment heavy on my mind, I set out to lunge. This time we tried the line over his poll to connect to the other side of the bit. This did seem to help. It is not my preference, but neither is rocketing around! Our goal for the session was walk trot walk transitions. I only slipped in a little canter, and stopped it before he could build to the kite flying stage. He was certainly improved. I just want to slow everything down with him.

So with that same idea I came out on Tuesday with the plan for a walk only ride. He expects walk trot canter and gets anxious, so I switched it up. We did 20 minutes of walk exercises. We started out with a loose rein walk and just letting him walk out on the buckle. He did great. As expected, when I picked up contact he thought trot, canter, stress, etc. He also has some contact evasion issues. He clearly has been taught, even if only briefly at the rescue, that rein contact means put your head down and in. So my biggest goal right now is encouraging him to accept the contact without hiding behind the vertical or fighting by tossing his head up. We focused on straight even contact, following hands, a marching walk, pushing his nose out and forward with the swing of his walk, and subtly lifting the reins when he got too low.  Then I added in changing bend first with circles, then serpentines. He is very attentive to change of weight, so he responds beautifully to seat bones. The work was great. He threw in a ¼ spin and kick out for good measure. Guess he thought we should be trotting! And that would be why we're walking. Hoping to find his brain again before we ask for more.

After our ride he was turned out with his pen mates into our very muddy outdoor arena, where he coated half his body in awful mud. Of course it's too cold to rinse, and he wasn't dry enough to knock it off until after I started teaching afternoon lessons, so he got to stay that way.

Wednesday I got out early enough to find the indoor arena empty!!! So I didn't waste a second getting the mud off, I just turned him out immediately. Our gate is not really meant to hold horses so much as deter them from leaving while ridden, so I had to stand guard there to be sure he didn't just shove through. But that was fine, he clearly didn't need any encouragement to run! I only encouraged him to not run me down or jump the wall! He ran for 3 minutes straight before even stopping for a breather. Clearly he had some pent up energy! He totally forgot to even roll.

Hope I can catch a free arena a few times a week for this. After his gallop, I just cleaned the mud off, and got on with my day. Thursday and Friday didn't allow any time, so aside form mud arena turnout and more rolling, he got off easy. It's looking like major snow really next week, so either I'll have the place to myself and extra time, or I won't be able to get out at all. We'll see what the storm brings!