Thursday, January 31, 2013

From Meh to Yay

Yesterday was meh.  The day started out pretty well.  Dawn and I had a nice ride in the early morning -  after her upset the day before, she was mellow and relaxed.  We did some very nice trot work, and also some canter - she's having difficulty holding the right lead and tends to want to come back to trot.  I suspect her left hind may be developing some arthritis - she'll be 16 this summer so that wouldn't be surprising.

But my rides in the afternoon yesterday weren't the greatest.  Red was anxious and bracing, and fussing about transitions from walk to trot.  He may have been a bit sore since he'd had a day off - he probably should do something almost every day, even if only some vigorous walking, because of his arthritis.  We ended up working for a while, and he did some good work but our connection was lacking.  Pie was a bit sluggish and his lack of bend was back.  We worked for a while at trot and canter, but the softness and connection wasn't really there.

All of this, of course, was because I wasn't riding well.  I was distracted - this happens to me sometimes when there's a lot of activity in the ring.  So I expect I wasn't mentally present the whole time to my horses, and they could feel the gaps in my direction and leadership.  And I was looking down at my horses' heads, particularly with Red, and the result of this was the energy was going down.  I was also pushing and shoving at Red, which made him even more resistant - there was even some head shaking.  Red's fussing and Pie's slowness and lack of bend were both caused by my bad riding.

I told them both they were very good horses for putting up with me.  As Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.  Meh . . .

Today was much better.  It was beastly cold - the high was about 18F with wind chills hovering around zero all day.  I went in the late morning to check on Dawn, and sure enough there she was huddled by the gate.  I brought her in and she seemed very happy in her stall the rest of the day, even though she was alone in our end of the barn.  Pie and Red were perfectly happy outside.

My objective today was to be there - to be present for my horses.  All three horses got good groomings, and Dawn and Pie got the day off - one of my hips is sore from yesterday, because of all that bad riding and pushing I had done.

Red and I ended up having an excellent ride today.  It was very cold in the arena - about 22F.   I made sure to do a thorough 15-minute walk warm up, including some lateral work.  He was very with me, even when he startle/scooted when an outside door opened making a horrible scraping sound.  I worked on keeping my eyes up, posture open, and not pushing.  I asked for trot by bringing up the energy only, making sure he was soft but not keeping a tight contact - no leg aids or pushing with my seat.  I got a few steps of canter before he trotted, but I just brought him right back to walk and we tried again.  No problem - beautiful transitions and no bracing or resistance.  His trot work was very good - he was a bit stiff but worked out of it.  I didn't push him, but let him trot with the degree of forward he was comfortable with.  As he warmed up, his trot got better and better.  We did a number of quick walk/trot/walk/trot transitions - quick because we only spent a few strides in each gait - and he was great.  Also, after his trot loosened up, his walk was bigger and with more swing than it's had in a while.

I told him what a wonderful horse he was and put him away.  Meh to yay!  (Oh, and there were 58 rides in January - not too bad for our part of the world in January.)

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