Wednesday, March 14, 2012

(Not a) Lesson Day: Three sound, one off

The South Dakota Horse Fair is in Sioux Falls Friday through Sunday this week.  Eric's headed over, which meant lessons got juggled.  My lesson ended up on Wednesday rather than Thursday. 

The weather's holding beautifully, and since I'd have my lesson on Buddy I figured I'd get Sunny in prior to.  It's good to have goals.

Horse 1: Sunny was in the mood to be a pill today, but I persevered.  It took him half the time I had to ride to finally settle, but once he decided I wasn't going to put up with nonsense he gave up and behaved.  Unfortunately, I spent longer on him than I'd planned, which left me with no time to work with Thunder before I had to pack up and head for my lesson, so he ended up a lick and a promise brushing and tomorrow I'll start with him.  Sunny can go second.  And hopefully he'll have his mind on business.

Horse 2:  Eric had the farrier there when I got to his place.  Luckily Buddy got shoes two weeks ago, so he was good to go - but there was a steady stream of horses in and out of the cross-ties, and it did make for an interesting time in the aisleway.  What with one thing and another, Eric was running behind on his horses, so he was just heading out to the arena with Pride when I arrived.  He asked me if I wanted to long-trot Pete for him again after my lesson.  So not a problem!  I collected Buddy, brushed him off and tacked him up and headed out to meet Eric coming back in to answer a question for the farrier.  He wanted to warm Buddy up, so we hung out and enjoyed the spring sun while we waited.

Horse 3:  When Eric reappeared from the barn he still had Pride in tow.  He's gearing the stallion up for open reining this season.  He had me hop on and walk him around while he started Buddy off.  It wasn't a long ride, but it was fun to see where I could steer him with just my legs.  I did my best to keep Pride's nose pointed in Buddy's direction so that I could watch what Eric was doing.  Buddy appeared to have taken the same caffeine pill as Sunny, because he didn't want to settle and behave, either.   But after a few high-stepping, snorty rounds, he decided cooperating was less work, and Eric and I traded.

Horse 2: Back on Buddy,  we started off at a walk, working on collecting and keeping a cadenced walk without dashing off in all directions. Forward momentum is so NOT going to be a problem.  Eric worked Pride and called directions at me - mostly reminders to pulse my inside heel and remember to release as soon as Buddy rounded and stretched into the bit.  We were getting along quite nicely when Eric headed in to swap horses.  I offered Buddy a break to stretch, then did some more collected walk.

When Eric came back he had me step up into the trot... Buddy rounded up for me, but it felt odd in back.  He was off  on his left rear.  We changed directions and tried circling right, and he was still off....  He hadn't looked sore with Eric on him, and we hadn't done anything but walk....  But his trot was noticeably funky feeling, so, that was it for him for the day.  Back in the barn I checked hooves and legs, and didn't find rocks or anything warm or swollen.  Eric'll check him and give him a day or so off if he needs it.

Horse 4:  Since Pete and I would be long-trotting, Eric said I'd be fine to use my saddle on Pete and I could work on my two-point.  Whimper.  We warmed up with some bending and spiral in/out, then settled into a nice loose-rein trot on the rail. 

Eric headed in to swap horses again.  Pete and I chugged along.  Although he rolls his eyes so that the white shows and looks sort of big-eyed on the ground, once you're on top Pete feels nice and solid and not spooky at all.  Even with the dog charging hither and yon and the wind rattling and flapping things, Pete was unfazed and I was comfortable with my relaxed reins. He did one bounce-and-dive spook at something only he could see midway through our ride, but since he didn't add a bolt to the end of it, I just went with him and sent him back to the rail again.

Pete has a really looooong neck, but very little throatlatch.  His head is just sort of stuck there, which gives him a kind of different look, to say the least.  My goal was just to keep him moving along evenly in a semi-round frame.  I wasn't asking for any kind of collection, but I did want him driving from behind and moving around the corners without dropping his inside shoulder, so I kept just enough contact that I could supplement inside leg with a little "rein"-forcement if I needed it. 

While he bobbed along, I alternated two-point and working trot, doing my best to catch my diagonals, interspersing walk-breaks when they felt right.  When we'd worked for 40 minutes or so, Eric had me do some collected walk before I let Pete relax and cool out.  Pete's a Country English horse, so it was head in my lap time - he may not have a throatlatch, but he certainly does get TALL when he's collected.

So I didn't get a lesson, but I did get to ride four horses - which was fun, but I can definitely feel my legs tonight.

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