Friday, January 29, 2010

Ok, I Admit

Today was not our best day ever. It definitely wasn't the worst, but we had too much unresolved conflict.

Izzy had another big spook at the beginning, but again we worked through that, which was good. We also had some very nice moments in trot, specifically when we worked on shortening and lengthening. That said, the footing was pretty crappy and we were steering around someone else the whole time, so it wasn't quite the workout I pictured. Izzy decided she didn't want to go through a mud puddle, and then she thought she would ignore my leg. She ended up going off my leg nicely, but then she didn't want to go forward.

She's a little bit like her mommy, in that she gets really upset sometimes, especially if she doesn't quite understand what I'm asking. Unlike her mommy, however, I can keep working through it because her brain does stay with me, it just gets frantic. I'm thinking that we both would have been better served if I incorporated the walk breaks I've been using the past few days to let her know she's doing alright.

I miss summer.

So, my plan to improve: I'm doing some extra work for Cathy this weekend, so I'll see if I can get on the lesson schedule for this upcoming week. To keep progressing, I need input. I need to do a lot more canter work (and transitions), so given the choice between braving the indoor alone and riding in crappy footing with someone else, off to the indoor we will go. In the iffy footing, I really feel like it's unfair to ask Izzy to really take a big, forward trot, and even if we get it, we have to stop almost immediately to avoid hitting someone else.

Also, I timed out workout today: 35 minutes. That's probably ok for now, but I want to build towards working an hour at least. She can develop fitness at slower speeds so when it comes time to start earnestly conditioning for an event, she will have a huge head start.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Confidence Win!

One of the first days I rode Izzy last year, she spooked and I fell off. I hadn't been riding regularly, and it really screwed with my confidence.

Today however, I got on in the neighbor's outdoor arena, walked off, and she spooked like hell itself was coming after her. It was tense, but I stayed on. I wasn't really even in danger of coming off, despite her frantic leaps into the air. Then, we went to work and I got her focused, and the day was fine. So, several things:

1) My goal is for us to compete at training level (in dressage) this summer, maybe starting 1st level in the fall. Our biggest hole right now is the canter, so I'm working it in to our routine more and more.

2) Region 6 championships are here next year, so my goal is to qualify for them at first level. It would be my goal to go, except apparently, that's really expensive and depends on my job situation.

3) My five year goal is to get my USDF bronze medal, which means two scores of 60% or better in first, second, and third level. I've ridden through first before, but this is going to involve a steep learning curve for both myself and Izzy. She can do it. We'll see if I can afford the lessons. ;-)

4) Dressage is great, but I want to jump, too. I'm hoping to have Izzy doing beginner novice by the end of the year and perhaps move up to novice next summer. I haven't clarified my goals here yet because Izzy has never jumped, so it does depend on whether or not she likes it.

And yes, I forgot to check the time again. I do need to do this, because I need to be building her fitness level.

Also, I've started running and working out at home. Hopefully, we'll both be much fitter in a couple months.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mon Dieu! Le cheval a de côté.

Yes, that's right. More French! This time, the horse went sideways. ;-)

Fortunately, the other morning cleaner showed up this morning, so I was off the hook (but I did have my muck boots). Instead, Cathy and I took our horses over to the neighbor's outdoor arena. Cathy did because her horse HATES the Doom Bubble, and the nieghbor's outdoor was relatively ok, despite all the rain. I did it because it's more fun to ride with other people, and hey, it's a new experience for Izzy and I.

Lunging was a mess. A nightmare, even. Izzy is still in a covered pen, so she doesn't get to stretch her legs a lot during the day. That means that if she has a day off, like yesterday, she is completely nuts when I get her out. Rearing, bucking, spinning, you name it, she did it. I can tell my confidence is improving, because it didn't bother me to watch her. I just waited until she was done, and then we went on.

When she'd had her fill of silliness, we mounted up. We did a lot of transitions through the halt to really get her listening to me. I need her to be able to focus on what I'm asking no matter where we are. And then, we did something we've never really done before: a leg yield. Yay! The horse went sideways!! More specifically, I focused on my body being correctly positioned to influence her, and I asked her to move her hips over more than her shoulders. It felt wonderful!

Then I had Cathy watch us, because I was so proud that we were doing something cool-ish. She had me do a small half-halt every time I asked Izzy to move over, to check her forward momentum. It did help, but it also confused Izzy at first. Poor pony. I also tried to incorporate a concept I heard about this summer; every time Izzy did something really well, I dropped to a walk and let her stretch and think about it. Good halt? Walk and stretch. Nice leg yield? Walk and stretch. If she focused on something outside the arena, I did pick her up immediately and go back to work. I wanted her attention on where we were. The breaks were only 10ish strides, but I want her to understand that she did something well.

The other change I tried to make was that I realized I need to keep better track of time. Iknow it takes me about an hour and forty-five minutes to groom, lunge, ride, cool out, and re-blanket, but I'm not sure what the time distribution is. I had my phone on me today to check the time, but I completely forgot to look at it. Oh well. Next time, I guess.

And here are some pictures of Izzy from earlier this summer. I should get some current ones, but she's all fuzzy...
This is back when everything was still white. I need to do some serious washing.
And this is her cute pony face. <3

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lesson Learned

Always, always, always bring your muck boots to the barn, even if it isn't your day.

I hadn't even gotten out of my car at the barn this morning when I got a call from the morning cleaner. She had car trouble and wondered if I could fill in for her.

A couple important points:
1) She fills in for me all the time, so I owe her big time.
2) She's one of those really nice people I'd do almost anything to help.
3) It rained hard, all night long.
4) My muck boots are at home.

I even looked at my muck boots as I was loading up the car, and thought, "Oh, I'm not cleaning today. There's no way I'll need those."

HA! Apparently, I now needed them badly.

We managed to get it figured out, though. I borrowed Cathy's boots, since she was gone for the morning. They're too big, but they're waterproof. I hope the other cleaner's car gets fixed today so I'm not on the hook for tomorrow, but either way, I'm bringing riding and mucking boots with me from now until the ground dries up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mon Dieu! Le cheval s'est presque arrêté!

In case you're like me and you don't know any French beyond "Mon dieu!", the title says, "The horse almost stopped", which was as close as the online translator could come to "half halt".

At any rate. We continued to work through the weekend on transitions through the halt, which has resulted in so much improvement. Izzy is much more responsive, both about halting and about going forward. We handled the Doom Bubble all alone on Sunday, and we rode outside in the wind and the mud today.

Here's what the title refers to: after about half an hour of warming up and doing transitions, I asked Izzy to halt, then go again before she stopped. She did it. That means, we did our first quality (and rudimentary) half halt. Obviously, I've had to rebalance her under saddle before, but this one caused a definite change in her way of going. It also confused her somewhat, poor girl.

Other than that, I also introduced backing. I've waited a long time to do this, because in my mind, a horse that rears as an evasion doesn't need any help learning to get her front end light. We have back a few steps here and there, but today I was actually asking for it. I got a variety of reactions. First, she did it. Then she completely locked up and wouldn't do anything. Then she ran backwards and wouldn't stop. We managed to work out a happy medium and just take a few balanced steps back. We're working towards an exercise I read about in which the horse halts, backs, goes forward, backs, etc. The idea is to swing the horse's weight and balance back and forth, which takes a great deal of coordination for both horse and rider.

Sounds good, right?

PS I really like my title. You may see more French in the future, but rest assured, I don't understand more than two words of it.

PPS I'm sorry if you saw this post before I edited it. I accidentally translated to Spanish! Ha. That shows you how much I know about foreign language.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The outdoor arena footing was good yesterday and today, so I rode Izzy in it. We have had two amazing days in a row, and I've probably jinxed it by talking about it now. Whoops.

Anyways. I've been working on keeping my reins shorter and doing the trot/halt/trot transitions that Katie recommended for us. I start by doing halt/walk transitions, but I make sure that we're walking forward, not just toodling along. It's going really, really well. Because I'm using my seat more,I'm sitting deeper in the saddle, which makes us both more secure and balanced. Then, when we start trotting, it's so completely natural that everything just flows. Outside distractions are blocked out. We had one transition from a forward trot to a square halt to a forward trot. It was gorgeous.

Say with me: ahhhhhhh. These are the days.

Canter/halt/canter transitions are stewing in the back of my mind, but we probably need a lot more practice cantering before we do too much with that.

I rode Cassie again yesterday, and she was wonderful all over again. As the weather improves, I'm going to have to look more into the reining thing. It's not like we'd ever compete, but it sure sounds fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Love Tbs

Yesterday was a crappy, windy, cold day, but it was above freezing and it had been blowing for two days straight, so the outdoor arena was sort of dry enough to ride in. It's is an amazing opportunity to have access to an indoor, but I sure love being outside.

Anyways. I rode Izzy after turning her out to run in the arena, and she was pretty naughty. She would have been better if I cold have done a bunch of transitions and made her focus, but the footing wasn't that good. I only rode for ten or fifteen minutes, then I out her away.

Finally, I was able to get my old girl out. (I say "my", but she's really not mine, except in our hearts.) She doesn't do the indoor, so I haven't been able to do much with her in the past couple months. I also turned her loose in the arena, then groomed her thoroughly and got on.

She is such a good girl. She isn't as forward into the contact as Izzy. She'll never be a dressage champion. She is, however, smart, sensitive, and athletic. Despite the fact that I hadn't ridden her in a month or two, she still moved forward perfectly off my legs, and stayed balanced under my weight. She's so sensitive that I can just think about halting, and we do.

If I had more money, I think I'd try to do lower-level reining with her. She's catty and sensitive and doesn't like much rein contact. I think she'd love it, and it's probably lower-impact on her joints than jumping or dressage. Unfortunately for her, I don't even know how to put a western saddle on, and I don't think I know anyone who ride western well enough to train her. Oh well. Maybe I'll get a book and see what we can do. She'd probably do fine in a western bridle, but I guess we'll stick to my ansur, so it would be a fun picture.

So, anyone know a good reining training book?

This is Cassie, my old girl, a couple summers ago.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Riding Pictures

Here are some pictures from last week. Izzy is a bit behind the vertical in most of these, so don't be too picky. We're working on it.

It's weird that I post pictures so far behind when I actually take them that I feel like we've improved bunches in between shots.

Showing off our new gear: we were testing out a sheepskin pad and flexible stirrups with pretty with dressage boots.
Pretty walking. Note the scary tree shadows.
I'm sorry for the crappy lighting. I didn't want to be too controlling when someone else is graciously taking pictures for me. It's better when the flash is off...

Also, apparently there's a reflective strip on my winter jacket.
It bugs me to have her tail up like that, but I keep reminding myself that I'm keeping it clean and letting it grow in preparation for this summer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Little Craziness

Katie came out to ride again today. I warned her that Izzy has been a little weird about saddling up, but just to prove me wrong it seemed), Izzy was totally fine. It's still too sloppy to ride outside, so we trekked over to the Doom Bubble. I hadn't ridden since Friday, but Izzy was quiet all week.

Apparently, she was feeling the effects of being cooped up Saturday and Sunday. She exploded on the lunge line, complete with galloping, bucking, and tearing around like a maniac. I wished I could let her loose, but I'm terrified that she'd kick at the wrong moment and puncture the bubble, which would be bad. Also expensive.

So instead she ran like a complete maniac both directions. She didn't really spook at anything, and she wasn't bothered by Cathy taking other horses in and out of the arena intermittently, which was good. When I had her listening on the lunge, we stopped to get on. She was decent. I just showed Katie what we've been doing, and I got to break down all the things that I do wrong that hamper her. It's like blogging, only in person. Even just that helped. Because I know she can see what I'm talking about, I can explain to her what I'm doing wrong that makes Izzy tight or resistant, or whatever.

After watching us for a while (and seeing no further fireworks), Katie took a turn. She demonstrated what she thought Izzy needed to be doing, and talked me through what she was doing with her. She complimented me on improving Izzy's steering and noticed how much more forward she is now. Because Izzy is more forward, she wants me to shorten up my reins and take a slightly stronger contact, and then ride into it. Izzy tends to curl up, and this will help her reach forward through her body without dropping her head as an evasion. I did notice in the pictures Cathy took of Izzy and I on Friday, that when I thought she was soft, she was actually curling, so it looks like another bad habit that I've allowed. Whoops.

She also had Izzy doing trot/halt/trot transitions to improve her responsiveness to the leg. She commented that Izzy seems to understand what is being asked of her, but doesn't really believe that what is asked is what is wanted. This seems to be a bit of an elaboration on a theme for me... I need to decide what to do and specifically ask for it. This will improve Izzy confidence.

All in all, it went well. I'm sorry for the lack of pictures... I didn't get to them today, but I hope to tomorrow. I wanted to take pictures of Izzy and Katie, but I forgot to bring my camera. Maybe next time you can see pictures of what Izzy looks like when someone really good rides her. It's impressive.

PS When Katie was cooling Izzy out, we tried to see how big of an overstep she could have in the walk. It was like 6"! Wow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ideas and Issues

I rode Izzy again on Friday. We did a lot of bend/counter bend, and I tried to focus on influencing her with just my body as much as possible, leaving the reins alone. Overall, she did well. Also, Cathy took some pictures, so I will hopefully get those up on Monday. They do show the inside of the indoor with the reflected trees, which is pretty interesting.

More exciting yet, Katie is probably going to come out and ride again. I'm selfishly hoping that she'll be able to give us some pointers on what to work on. (However, if she just wants to enjoy a quiet ride, that's ok too.)

Here's a funny story for the day: I showed up to ride on Friday. I was going over to the indoor with Cathy's 9am lesson, so I was getting all my stuff ready. Izzy watched me everywhere I went. I kept thinking, "Aww, she loves me." It was really cute, until I realized that Cathy was gone getting grain, because she ran out.

The pony just wanted food. Silly mare.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More pictures

I've had computer difficulties that are finally being worked out, so I actually have more pictures today.

This is Izzy earlier this year, modeling her fancy new bridle. Thankfully, the snow is gone now.

She wasn't standing still well, because she wanted to see what I was doing. I had to tie her up to get a decent picture.

Here is my beautiful bridle in the tackroom.

And my beloved saddle.

Izzy and I are really loving that saddle. Now that I tighten the correctly-sized girth enough, it doesn't slip at all, and it is super comfy to sit in. I'm probably not the best person to ask about comfort, though. I get used to anything.

Apparently, Izzy got out this morning and was galloping around wildly. She had to be caught by the girl cleaning. Naughty pony. She was quietly eating by the time I showed up, though.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Walking Tour

It's raining a lot today, which is sad. It is apparently also terrifying. Izzy had to have some outside encouragement to get in to the Doom Bubble this morning, most likely because of the horrifying dripping noises on the outside. (You know what they say about dripping noises. Or, if you do, please leave it in the comments.

After we got in, though, she was wonderful. She lunged fairly quietly, stood to let me mount, and off we went. Cathy was riding her horse at the same time. Cathy's horse was being stupid, because she HATES being indoors. I watched them go around a little, and was really thankful for my less-fancy-but-way-calmer horse.

I used to do dressage clinics pretty regularly with a lady who comes in from the Portland area. It drove me nuts because she would tell me to do something, not give me enough time to start doing it, and tell me to do something else, and want me to have the first thing done while I did the second thing. I hated it at the time, and my Dad labeled her "the riding nazi". I have to admit, though, her methods were effective. She made me think right here, right now, and she made me realize that what I was doing was the problem, not the horse.

I can apply what I learned from her now, and thanks to her constantly telling me what to do, over and over, I can still hear it in my head. "Outside sitting bone in the middle of the saddle. Tower out!" The more I'm progressing with Izzy, the more it applies to us. I feel like we're finally reaching a harmonious place together where I can begin to finesse what we've worked on up to this point.

Hurray! And now, the tour of the Bubble of Doom (aka an inflatable indoor arena).

Well, ok, first is a picture of Izzy, done working and happily eating breakfast under her shelter. I moved her back into a pen because I like when she's dry.

Sorry I don't know how to rotate this. These are our stars: Cathy (foreground) with Ben and Tonia with Dart, the old schoolmaster.

To get to the arena, we go down the driveway (I told you it was wet).

Then down the road.

Almost there.

Go in the gate...

Past the barn and the scary much wheelbarrow.

Into the claustrophobic box.

And into the Bubble of Doom!

It's really like being in a thought bubble. Even the sounds are sort of muffled and weird.
I don't remember the exact dimensions, but you can comfortably lunge two horses and it's about the size of a small dressage arena.

To get in or out, you have to open this window on the claustrophobic box. It's particularly scary when going in, because cold air comes whooshing out.

This is inside the box on a cloudy day with no flash, looking away from the well-lit window. I see why Izzy finds it intimidating.

So, I hope that help you all understand just how much of an accomplishment it is for Izzy to make it in there. Because it was cloudy and miserable out, the roof was pretty much all the same grey. On sunny days, the trees show up on the side, and that is pretty terrifying, too. I'll have to take more pictures, if the sun ever comes out again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weather Starts Improving

It's thinking about being nice outside. It was actually 40f when I got up this morning, so the ice is melting and the arena started thawing. I checked Cathy's outdoor arena this morning, and it was probably ok if I was desperate, but between strong winds and having a nice, wind-free indoor just next door, we made another trip to the doom bubble. It's not as threatening as it used to be.

And yes, I will try to take pictures tomorrow and get them posted by the end of the week. It is unfair for me to sit here and describe it without visual accompaniment.

I was hoping to expand on what Izzy and I worked on yesterday, but we had a new challenge to deal with. Our usual riding buddy couldn't make it. Cathy brought a horse over to lunge, but Izzy had to deal with that horse leaving. Yeah. Pretty dramatic. I consider it good practice for an imaginary time in the future where we do big, fancy shows. In general, I was impressed by Izzy's response. The other horse left, and she panicked a little bit. I kept her going forward on the lunge, and within two circles, she was pretty much back to listening to me.

Then another girl came in to ride a strange horse (well, strange to us. It's her normal horse). It was fun to watch, because she rides at a much higher level than Izzy and I are capable of right now. We worked on circling, staying out of the way, and not trying to kick the expensive horse when it went by. In addition to paying attention to my seat bones, I tried to keep Izzy's neck straight and influence her balance and direction by shifting my weight. Overall, she was good. We'll hopefully be participating in another dressage clinic at the end of this month or next month, depending on how the scheduling works out. I'm looking forward to that.

In the mean time, here's a little visual history for you.

This is Izzy on one of our first few rides ever.

And here she is a couple months ago: (pre-new bridle and indoor arena).

I will work on getting pictures of the indoor arena and us in it, but that depends on having a camera person, and those are hard to come by when it's freezing cold outside. Oh well. Maybe I'll just do a walking tour or something.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Alone in the Dark

Ok, it wasn't that dark.

Izzy and I braved the Bubble of Doom alone this morning. It was our first time trying that since our lesson several weeks ago. To my surprise, Izzy was quite good. She was a little more worried than normal, but not nearly as worried as I expected her to be without another horse in there.

She actually settled in rather rapidly and we did a lot of spiral in/spiral outs, figure eights, and even introduced some basic leg yielding. Because we were alone, I was able to take her down the long side of the arena and work on straightness a little bit, too. I tried to really focus on what I was doing and how it was affecting her. When she was stiff, I loosened up my shoulders and bent in and out, both with my body and hers. I paid attention to where my seat bones were and how they changed her balance. I tried to keep my shoulders back and my chest open. I was more deliberate about where I was going. I've realized that I spend entirely too much time letting her bounce off the wall and not directing where she's going.

As Mark Rashid says, I need to take responsibility for speed, direction, and something else... Kate would know.

All in all, it was an excellent ride. I really felt like we made progress. The more aware I am of what I'm doing, the better Izzy responds.

ETA: Did I mention that I re-measured Izzy last week, and she grew an inch? That's right. She's 16.0 hands now instead of 15.3. Who would have thought? Also, she was just stocking up. There was no swelling at all after our ride this morning.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Not As Exciting News

Cathy is out of town for the weekend, so I showed up this morning to help feed and clean. As usual, I went over to visit with Izzy first, and immediately something popped out at me: her right hind fetlock was swollen. There was no cut or blood or ooze. I went and got a halter and led her up and down the hard drive way.

Phew. She's totally sound on it. I called Cathy (who was at the airport) and asked her about it. She'd fed in the dark, so there was no way she'd noticed. When I told her Izzy was still sound, she said it probably wasn't a big deal. She did mention that if she's still swollen tomorrow, I should give her some bute.

I think it's because we worked hard on Thursday, and then she went back into her pen. I hadn't moved her back to the pasture yet because the weather's been pretty hit-and-miss, but the result was her just standing around. I think it's most likely that her ankle is just stocking up from the inactivity.

After I finished my chores, I groomed Izzy (she wasn't sensitive about her leg at all), and then hand walked her for about 10 minutes. It looked like the swelling went down a bit. I put her out in the pasture with her friend and dumped the rest of her hay out there. Here's hoping that all is well tomorrow.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

We were in the Doom Bubble again today. Usually it's just our lessoner friend in with us, but someone scheduled a beginner lesson at the same time today. As a result, Izzy and I had to stay on the same end with our friend to avoid mowing over the beginner. We had to do a lot of lengthening and shortening since the lesson horse moves quite slowly. I've noticed that Izzy seems to tighten her body, then drag down on the bit, and completely ignore my body. In large part, I think that's due to me getting stiff, which isn't exactly helped by the cold. She gets better if I change the bend every couple strides, but it's still not great. We couldn't do many spirals today because there were other people around.

Oh well. We worked really hard. When Katie rode Izzy, she said that she knew the aids, but commented that our half halt/brakes weren't that good. I feel like I finally have Izzy going pretty well forward, so now we need to learn to slow down. We did a lot of big trot to shorter trot transitions, but it would take me a whole short side to get her to slow down. Ugh. Definitely need more work there. I'm thinking we may take some time to do what Frizzle is doing with Salem. Still, it's a pretty new concept for her because so much of our time has been spent going forward. I'm really looking for more quality downward transitions, both in and between gaits. She has a tendency to lose all her forward energy in a transition instead of going forward and down... if that makes any sense.

Cathy's out of town this weekend, but I'm hoping we can get on the lesson schedule next week sometimes. Beyond that, do you have any exercises that will help with softening us up?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Bit Experiments

My last post was pretty long, so I left out this part. I found a spare bit hanging up in the tack room, and Cathy said we could try it. It looks like this, though I'm not sure it's brand-name. We were using a eggbutt french link of uncertain maker that fairly closely resembled this.

Izzy definitely appreciated our switch from single jointed snaffle to double jointed that we made several months ago. She's pretty sensitive about her mouth, and she's much more willing to go forward into contact with when the nutcracker action of a single-jointed bit was gone.

The bit we were trying was loose ring, which I am leery of. I know they're supposed to be great, but they can pinch the horse's mouth and my old mare had several bitting quirks, which meant that when I put her in a loose ring, she picked up a whole new vice (clicking her teeth). Izzy isn't nearly as fussy with her mouth, so I tried the new bit and tried not to hold my breath. I did however, firmly resolve to dismount and unbridle immediately if any teeth-clicking occurred. That drives me nuts.

Izzy went surprisingly well. She did flip her head a little bit, but I think that was partly because she wanted to be done working and partly because it was adjusted a little lower in her mouth, which let it bounce around. She also braced against me less, which is theoretically a benefit of a loose ring bit, but she usually only braces when I'm stiff and just letting her go around. I was actively making her work yesterday, so it wasn't a situation in which she'd usually brace anyways.

We'll try it again tomorrow, and see how it goes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How About Them Broncos?!

May I just say, 17-10 win over TCU that came down to the last few seconds? Yes!! This is what I love about football, particularly Boise State.


More directly relevant to my life, Izzy and I ventured to the indoor yet again today. Our lesson Friday ended up not really being a lesson, because Izzy was not happy being by herself. She was galloping and bucking and acting nutty, so Cathy brought in a quiet horse that she needed to ride and gave me some pointers in between schooling the other horse.

Note: I work to pay for lessons, so it's not like there was money wasted or she was disrespectful of "my time". We were just doing what was best for Izzy at that point in time. Plus, Cathy's way more confident in my riding and intuition than I am, so she's pretty sure I'll just be fine.

Anyways. She had us do some spiral in/spiral out and bend/counter bend exercises to get Izzy focused and responsive. We didn't canter, but we had some excellent trot work in which Izzy was light and soft in my hands and pushing from behind while using her back. Lovely, lovely moments.

Today, my usual lessoner friend was back, so we were just going along. It's a symbiotic relationship; Izzy keeps the lesson horse calm, which allows the lessoner to get the most out of her lesson, and I get some time to ride. I moved Izzy in from the pasture this past weekend because it was raining pretty hard, and she doesn't have shelter out there. As a result, her brain was kind of gone. She's much better mentally when she gets to wander around the pasture. She was a nutcase while tacking up; she'd try to kick the other horse, then spin around and almost kick e, then try to bit chunks off the hitching post to relieve stress.

I bowed to the obvious, and decided that we would probably just have a lunging day today, but at least she'd get some of this nervous energy out of her system. She was better while we were walking over to the arena. Once we got there, I took her to the far end and we just did transitions, over and over. Lots of trot/canter/trot, to keep her working and focusing and let her blow through some steam. When she settled a little, I introduced her to shorten/lengthen within the trot, which we hadn't really done before on the lunge. She seemed to pick up on it pretty well.

After 20 minutes or so, I decided to get on. We'd lunged on both ends and she wasn't spooking or careening around, so we would probably be ok.

She was. We did more of what we did in our lesson, and she did some really nice work. We still have our sticky spots, but overall, she's coming around really nicely. Plus, that feeling of comfort and relaxation that we first achieved outside a couple weeks ago is still here. What a good day.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...