Friday, March 23, 2012

Great Time with the Boys!

I just got back from my day with the boys, and they were both outstanding!  They have both made noticeable progress from last week, and I had very good rides on both of them.  Thankfully, the weather has finally cooled down and the temperatures were in the 60sF.  My drive up and back wasn't that pleasant - it was pouring down the whole way, but I'll take it if it means temperatures are more seasonable.

Pie was up first.  It was raining, so I brought him in the (very small) indoor to groom and tack.  I rode in my saddle this time - Heather's fits me and the boys well (old #2 tree About the Horse saddle), but her stirrups were slightly too short for me and couldn't be lowered further, which played hell with my back last week.  Neither Pie nor Drifter has been ridden in the indoor since their first week, so both were pretty "looky" when we started out.  After I got on Pie, the rain eased up for a bit, so we were able to do most of our session outside - they have sandy soil so even when it rains the outdoor is usually useable.  We've got Pie back in the ported Mylar snaffle - the version Pie uses doesn't have headstall or rein slots:

- it allows room for his large tongue - and he did very well with it - Heather raised it a bit as that made him more comfortable.With Pie, I worked on his softness - it's consistent at the walk now and getting there pretty well at the trot, and his forward and responding instantly to cues are improving - Trot NOW is the message!  I carried a dressage whip to give secondary cues so I wouldn't overcue with my leg.  Heather had me work on selecting focus points as we moved around the ring - and had me select focus points that were high - tops of trees and tops of buildings, etc. - in order to make sure my head was up which meant my posture/balance were more upright which helped him out. He's not built downhill, but he's still learning to carry himself from behind, so I need not to look at his head or drive the energy downwards as it makes it hard for him to carry himself.  We also worked on consistency of gait - either short or big trot, but maintaining it regardless of whether I was riding with contact or not - and lots of transitions, making sure he moved through and didn't collapse on the forehand.  He did spook once - probably a pheasant or wild turkey behind the trees - and although I lost a stirrup we just kept on going, and he was looky at one end of the ring, but we just kept on going.  He did great, and the finest moment was when we did a transition to walk, I loosened the reins, and his head and neck just stayed where they were in a lovely soft curved position - his neck is actually starting to develop muscles in the right places and is getting away from that "upside-down" look!

After I rode Pie, we tied him in the indoor for him to cool off and chill out while I rode Drifter.  He pawed and wiggled for a minute, but then relaxed and took a nap.  Drifter came into the indoor with giant eyeballs - he's been in there a few times but only at the beginning of his visit.  We ground-tied for his grooming and tacking, and although he had to be moved back into place a couple of times, he was pretty good.  Drifter was great - he started out great and kept on that way.  His most usual evasion is to raise his head to get above the bit and get a release, so I kept my reins short and that wasn't an issue except briefly a couple of times.  Drifter's back in the double-jointed KK bit with a lozenge, and Heather raised that bit as well - I've been keeping their bits a little too low:

We worked on his consistency of softening at the walk and trot - it was very, very good - he was like butter in my hands, and his consitency of straightness and also gait was much improved - I was able to put him on a loose rein/take up contact/put him on a loose rein again, without loss of rhythm or stride length.  We did a number of sets of slow sitting trot to faster rising trot and back again.  One thing I was delighted with was his upwards transitions - there wasn't he slightest resistance at any point.  Although he was momentarily distracted when a horse came into the ring and later left, he did well coming back to me. Then we worked on transitions, making sure I was thinking "flowing forward" in the downwards transitions, and keeping my eyes up and not on his head.  We did a number of walk/halt/walk transitions and walk/trot/walk transitions, with the objective of maintaining the flow as well as the softness through the transitions.  He felt really good, and most of the transitions were also really good, our last trot/walk transition was just like flowing water and felt that good, so we stopped there.

Drifter also had the chance to stand tied for a while and did very well - only a few moments of pawing. I dosed both of the boys with worm medicine and we put their rain sheets back on and out they went.  I'm planning to be up there Wednesday and Friday of next week to ride them, and I'm really looking forward to that.  Pie is coming along like a young, green horse should and is a really great horse with a nice mind, and Drifter is beginning to let go of his resistant behaviors and show us the cooperative, athletic horse that he is.  I couldn't be more delighted with how their training is going!

They each claimed to have worked hard, but I worked harder, as I rode both of them - it was great to see and ride my boys!

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