Monday, January 28, 2013

Fourth Blog Anniversary, and Nose Rests Are a Good Sign

It's hard to believe that today is the fourth anniversary of when I started this blog.  Lots of posts since then, and a huge number of changes in my horse life and riding.  The death of my old horse Noble, retiring several horses to Tennessee, learning to work with Dawn, and finding two new horses - Pie and Red - and dealing with various medical and training issues - a lot has happened.  My very bad fall in June of 2011, and having to deal with that and really change how I rode, was a real turning point, leading to some big changes and improvements in me that my horses have benefitted from.  I'm riding every chance I get, and have set up my life to make that possible.  Riding, and improving my riding and what I have to offer to my horses, is a real priority now.  I'm almost 60, and although I won't be able to ride forever, I intend to ride every time I can between now and whenever that is - every ride is precious.

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Back to regular horse news - it was a wonderful three-horse day - any day I can ride and have fun with my horses is a good day.  And today it was like I was at a private barn, all my own - all three rides I had the arena to myself, and was the only person to ride in it by the time I was done - the arena is dragged twice a day.

Dawn and I had an excellent ride this morning.  Before the ride, she did a lot of nose resting while I was grooming.  She would press her nose into my chest while I stroked her face and neck.  It was a very good sign - she was feeling connected with me - my connection with her comes and goes although she always tries hard in our rides.  I love it when she does nose resting - you can't ask her to do it, she has to offer it to you - I always feel honored by her wanting that closeness.  Our ride couldn't have been better - she was very forward but responsive in all three gaits and bending well.  Her softness was very good, although she did fuss with her head from time to time - there may be some new dental issues brewing.

Red has been working very well, and today was no exception.  We did a thorough 15-minute walk warm up, then moved to trot.  He fusses a bit on the first upwards transition, so we worked on reducing his anxiety and bracing with some circles, only going to trot when he was relaxed.  We did almost 20 minutes of trotting today and most of it was very good - lots of impulsion.  There were a few moments where he was stiff, but he was willing to work.  We also did some canter on both leads, and ended up with some very nice walk/trot/walk transitions and some relaxed rein trotting.

Pie has been doing really good work.  Yesterday, we did a session with a lot of forward trot work.  The weather outside yesterday was very strange - rain, sleet and snow.  At one point yesterday, it started to heavily sleet - it sounding in the indoor as if it were hailing.  Pie was considerably alarmed, so I dismounted and stood with him for a few minutes, reassuring him until he relaxed and we went back to work.  Some snow had also blown in under one of the arena doors, and at first he was a bit concerned about that, but we just kept working closer to the worry spot and soon he was fine.

Today Pie and I had an even better ride - lots of forward trot with good impulsion and bend, and a substantial amount of canter work.  The arena doors were open, since it was unusually warm today, and Pie was nervous at one end but we just kept on working and he settled very well.  His bending and softness at the canter continue to improve, and we ended with some very nice repeated trot/canter/trot work on both leads - his transitions continue to improve.

All three horses were told many times how good they were, both verbally and with stroking.  Every one is tucked back in stalls and we're all feeling happy about things.

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