Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fire-Breathing Dragon to Pussycat

It's supposed to get pretty hot this afternoon, so I went to the barn early this morning to ride Red and Pie.  Dawn's still on break until her leg heals.  It had rained hard all morning, so both boys were pretty wet in their pens, huddled up and not too reluctant to come into their stalls.  Pie just needed to be toweled down, but Red had rolled and needed a rinse off first.  Red stood nicely in the wash stall for me on a loose lead - he seems happiest when I don't put him on crossties to rinse him.

Red was up first.  I could tell he was pretty amped up.  Both he and Pie get ridden almost every day, and both are very fit, but being in the pens is harder mentally on Red than on Pie - Pie's pretty happy so long as he's got something to eat, and he's basically a lower-energy guy.  This week I'll be lengthening Red's turnout time gradually - Pie will still be limited to a shorter time in the afternoon until July.

Red could barely contain himself as I mounted up.  We were by ourselves at the barn, and had a freshly dragged arena, which was very nice. It was also still fairly cool, which felt good to us. I could have done some groundwork first to settle him down, but neither he nor I enjoy groundwork very much so we just went for it.  His walk warmup was very energetic - I tried to let him move while giving him some figure work to keep his mind busy.  He did a good first walk/trot transition without springing into canter.  He shook his head vigorously a couple of times to show me his energy level, and he felt at first as if he were on springs, but he was otherwise very, very good.  We worked continuously at a forward trot for about 20 minutes before he began to relax a bit and settle down, but he stayed soft and responsive throughout.  The fact that his work ethic is so good and he's able to hold himself together so well, despite having excess energy, is a great tribute to what a willing horse he is.  I've found that one important thing with a horse like him when he's full of beans is to let him move and not try to constrain him too much, but continue to ask for what I want in terms of quality of gaits - trot work like this tends to settle him down mentally.

After Red settled down and relaxed, we went on to do some more really nice trot work, including some very good shortening and lengthening.

Then Pie and I had a very nice ride, too - there was still no one at the barn so we had the arena to ourselves.  His trot just gets better and better in terms of its quality - he's round, and soft and carrying himself very well from behind, and his ability to lengthen his stride is improving.  Yesterday afternoon when I was riding him, we tried something different at the canter and repeated it this morning.  We did our canter work on a loose rein.  This wouldn't have been possible until recently, in terms of his ability to carry himself well at the canter instead of falling on the forehand and in on the turns - he now stays pretty round even on a loose rein and easily goes deep into the corners without "motorcycling". I pretty much don't have to do anything now but sit there quietly and keep my eyes and focus up on where we're going.  It was just plain wonderful - lovely, rhythmic, forward but not rushed canter on both leads, with deep corners just off my steering with my core.  We went around and around and it was hard to stop, it felt so good.

Now that's what I call a good Saturday morning!

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