Thursday, September 8, 2011

One at a Time

To take the pressure off for now, and to deal with the "dreads" and try to get the joy back into my riding, I've adjusted my riding schedule and goals.  For now, I'm going to the barn planning to ride only one horse a day.  If I feel like riding another horse, that's fine, but there's no requirement.  This means I can devote as much time to grooming as I want - I like to groom and all my horses enjoy it - and when I'm riding, I can take as long (or as short) as I want.  If I ride 6 days a week - that won't always happen because of weather or other things I have to do - each horse should get ridden at least two times a week.

My horses will still progress, and things will get accomplished, just not as quickly as they might.  I still believe that the ideal training schedule is 3 days on/one day off, or 5 days on, two days off.  But there's a lot to work on each time I ride, and that's enough, and all my horses are far enough along in their training that they won't "lose" things in between rides.

I've had three really nice rides over the last three days, so perhaps my new approach is working.  On Tuesday, Pie and I worked on the grassy area behind the barn, for a change, and did a lot of walk and trot work, including transitions - my objective was for him to be with me instead of with the horses in the pasture.  On Wednesday, Drift and I worked in the arena on his walk/trot work - not a single balk! - and also on turn on the forehand - he's making very good progress on that, and he was very focussed despite the stiff winds.  Today, Pie and I rode in the arena for a while, working on walking with energy in a straight line - remarkably hard to do and we used cones to help our focus - and also turn on the forehand, and walk/halt transitions and backing, with softness.  In the turn on the forehand work, all I wanted was one nice step around at a time - I go very slowly with this as it's easy to rush the horse who's figuring out how to move the legs.  Pie struggled a bit, but got it eventually.  Pie's a horse that can benefit from some arena work - he's got good basic training in a round pen and some diverse experience, but he needs work on his softness, responsiveness and basic things like riding in a straight line when the trail doesn't define the line - if you don't have soft and forward, you can't have straight. Then we took a brief trail ride with Sugar, whose owner was nice enough to include me on one circuit - despite the high wind (hence, no ride on Dawn - I don't ride Dawn in a high wind), Pie was very good and pretty relaxed.

Dawn's neck now has areas that are losing hair and the top layer of skin, but the skin underneath looks pretty good.  I'm continuing to gently scrub those with my fingers, using soapy baby shampoo water, and then letting her air dry and applying Thermazene antibiotic ointment.  At this point, it looks a lot like rain rot, but at least it's not on the saddle area.  If we get a warmer, less windy day, I'll be back on board Dawn and I think she'll appreciate the opportunity to work.

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