Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All Horse, All the Time: Three Stars

Some of you may have noted that my blog now has a subtitle: all horse, all the time.  This is a joke (not really) in my family.  My non-horsey husband (who does assist from time to time with hoof picking and even grooming from time to time when I am out of town) coined the phrase, I think.

Today was a wonderful day - it involved all horse, all the time, and all three horses were stars.  It was an unusual day, weather-wise - the highs topped out in the upper 70sF with some wind - just plain beautiful, although the horses found it a bit warm now that their winter coats are coming in.

My day started with an outstanding ride on Dawn - we had the indoor to ourselves, which was lovely.  If I kept my head up, my elbows to my sides and my posting just barely there, we had marvelous softening and engagement at the trot.  Her canter work was also wonderful - she was round, and soft, and very forward.  In fact she was beautifully forward in all gaits.  We'd done some marvelous flying lead changes yesterday on the center line in both directions, and there was only one buck when she couldn't get her feet organized.  So today we did no lead changes, just cantered the whole arena and some circles - her power and willingness always astound me.

Pie and I had the opportunity to go on a trail ride with another boarder, so we took it - he hasn't been out on the trail since before his Lyme diagnosis, a number of months ago.  I had to fetch him from the far reaches of the pasture - he was at least a half mile from the barn and there was a lot of mud to wade through to get out there - but he came in willingly - usually I have to really urge him.  On the trail, he was forward, and interested and just plain happy.  He looked at a number of things, but was always willing to move forward when I asked.  We had to negotiate a number of obstacles - the road we cross is under construction, with barrels and flags and at least a 12 inch step up to the pavement and the same down - but he took everything in stride and was willing and happy.  There was a spring in his step, both coming and going,  despite the heat - usually, coming home he is dragging and sluggish, but not today.  He trotted along right next to the other horse without complaint, and was soft, soft, soft.  This is so different from the sullen, tired, slow and crabby horse he has been recently that it's just amazing.

Poor Red only noticed Pie's absence as we were leaving for the trail ride - the trail goes along the pastures - he was calling for Pie, and when we came back, he came all the way to the pasture gate to wait for him and then they galloped off together.

In the afternoon, I had an outstanding ride on Red.  We started out doing our walk and then trot work, and he was just plain slugging.  It's hard to tell with a horse coming back from an injury if the "slows" are due to discomfort or just to habit - I've been very conservative in our work, but today he didn't seem sore, just sluggish, and I was having to use too much leg.  I got my dressage whip, to be able to reinforce primary cues if necessary so as to not use too much leg, and what I got as a result - almost no use of the whip - was just plain wonderful.  He apparently decided I was serious about working, and we got some wonderful trot sets all the way around the ring and also across the diagonal - his trot was powerful and engaged and forward, and his softness was suberb, and he was completely sound on both diagonals.  It was like riding the wind, or like riding a river - the metaphor I sometimes use.  We'll see how he is tomorrow, but it appears that Red is back - what a feeling.

So, all horse, all the time, and just plain wonderful!

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