Friday, September 30, 2011

"Better take along some glue..."

I haven't ridden English all summer, but now that fall has arrived, my calendar has opened up, and show season is over - which means the trainer's calendar has cleared some, as well.  I'll be starting lessons again soon, so I've been meaning to put on some riding time in breeches.  Ordinarily I'd just switch to English tack half the time on the trail, but with Thunder along.... I feel a bit safer ponying him from the security of a western saddle where I can dally if I need to.

Anyway, I decided tonight was going to be and English night.  T and J were packing up shotguns to go dove hunting, and I didn't want to waste such a beautiful evening on housecleaning.  I'd originally intended to just hook up the trailer, since everything I needed was in it, but J blocked the hitch when he pulled in, and I hated to make him go back and move it - it wasn't that much trouble to transfer my saddle, Sunny's bridle and a couple of brushes to the truck, after all.

"Better take some glue along!" was J's comment, seeing me in breeches.  Ha, ha... Funny!

Little did he or I know exactly how prophetic that comment was going to turn out to be.

I collected the boys, set them to guarding posts, and commenced brushing.  Sunny untied himself as soon as I bent over to brush Thunder's belly.  I retrieved him and retied him, regretting the fact that I'd neglected to bring along the Tabasco sauce for his leadrope.  And realized I'd forgotten the fly spray in the truck.  Went back after it, and returned to find Sunny wandering off again. 

Wound his lead around the post without knotting it - sometimes that fools him for a while - got them both fly sprayed and feet cleaned out.  Then back to the truck for the saddle and bridle.  Hauled it all down to where the horses were (still!) tied.  And discovered that I'd forgotten one very critical piece of gear... the girth.  Ooops... Guess I should have brought along that glue - LOL!

I swear by this point Sunny was laughing at me.

I did remember the bridle, though, so on it went, and I wriggled my way on.  Thank goodness for short horses!  But as I've learned the hard way in the past that breeches are much slipperier than jeans, the circle loping I'd planned was right out.  For the first 15 or so minutes I concentrated on getting a good working walk, being very deliberate about corners.  I pretended the tall weeds were cones to circle and weave through, and focused on looking ahead and hitting the marks I'd set.  When he was responding nicely at a walk I picked up a jog-trot and did some big to little to big circles.  Then it was back to the walk and some counter-bend reverses to both sides.  Going clockwise round into a counter-bend to the left and reverse to counter-clockwise is coming along prettily.  He's really starting to step under and yield his shoulder - at least from on top it feels good.  

Counter-clockwise circle into a counter-bend to the right, reverse to clockwise circle needs work.  So we did.    He's stepping over, he's just not flexing /bending/yielding through the neck, shoulder and back.  Hmmm....Possibly related to his lack of interest in picking up the left lead?  I think it will be easier to reinforce the bend with a saddle, where I can really open my left leg and use my right side more effectively. 

All told, about 45 minutes of work. Not nearly as long as we've been riding, but more intentional than just pointing him down the road, especially without Thunder attached.  Next time though?  I'll be sure to double-check for ALL the necessary bits and pieces!

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