Friday, July 6, 2012

Straight lines and circles

It was 100' here at noon, 98', at 4 PM, and by 5:30 it had dropped 15'.  A stiff north wind, clear blue skies... gorgeous.  The boys had sweaty marks just from standing around, but they were loafing in the shade enjoying the breeze.  Turning up the driveway with the windows down I could see Sunny's head pop up and hear his welcoming whinny.

They met me at the gate, and as I juggled halters, leads, fence panel and electric wire I missed having my folks here all over again. 

I set up the ground poles and tacked Sunny up western.  We cruised around the field on a loose rein for a while, then walked the poles a few times before I asked him for any collection.  The breeze felt great, and he had a bit of spring in his step.  We bent, counter bent and half-passed at a walk, then picked up a trot... and up popped his nose. 

So we worked on rounding and softening at a trot for a while until he was rolling over and I could feel his back come up and stay there.  Then back to a walk and some more bending and stretching for cool down.

I was debating riding Thunder at all - the farm owner pulled out while I was pulling Sunny's saddle off, and no one else was home, and there was some random shooting going on to the north that had both of them looking - but I wanted to at least lunge him. 

I expected he'd be at least a little snorty given the wind and the gunfire (fireworks?), but he circled in both directions without expending any extra energy on nonsense, changing gaits and directions politely.  And whoever was shooting stopped.  At which point I figured what the heck and took him back to the trailer for his bridle.

One thing we haven't quite conquered yet is traveling in a straight line.  It's interesting, because he's not wobbly like a young horse learning to balance the weight of a rider.  But he does tend to want to ease his way over toward the gate and the trailer.  He'll turn on request, we're still working on where the turn stops.  Small turns are easier to do than the large arc of a circle.  Of course, thus far I've worked a lot on turns and asking him to give his face and bend, so that's probably more my fault than his.  But tonight I was very deliberate about asking for straight lines and nice wide curved turns.

I'd pick a clump of weeds, a fence post or some other target and ask him to walk straight to it and then arc around it and head for the next point.  It worked for the most part.   Still haven't been brave enough to trot, but soon.  I think just walk is getting a bit boring for both of us! 

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