Friday, October 11, 2013

Parting ways? Not if I can help it!

I decided to warm up last night by trotting the perimeter. Both directions. The goal is to work up to cantering the perimeter both directions, but I want a quiet horse that stays under me, so I don’t want to rush things. You see, there is a huge horse-eating crevasse down one side that hides behind some seriously thick growth. The path varies in width from 4 to 8 feet, obstructed on the other side by a fence. There is no cause for alarm here!

So, we had a nice steady, comfortable trot going on, and we had no concerns when we trotted along with the horse-eating creek on our right and the fence on our left. Fancy Pony looked at a gravel spot before moving right along, but she never broke gait or slowed her pace. We finished the first trek and took a brief walk break while we turned around. OK, Fancy Pony, let us trot the perimeter the other direction, now!

My trusty steed trots off again with the creek and crevasse on our left, and the fence on our right! With barely a glance at the gravel spot, we’re moving right along until…


Have you ever stayed on your horse by sheer force of will? Seriously. I’m hanging off the right side by my left elbow and thigh. I can see the ground coming for me…

I get back in the middle, turn her back around, and we go trotting down the line again. Guess what happens in 20 feet??

Are we really here again? Force of will. Has to be. Physics does not explain my ability to stay on top of the horse!

My trusty steed now has no confidence that the crevasse won’t eat her. Psycho Mare has returned and doesn’t even want to WALK down the path. I’m not sure how much more my elbow and thigh can do to keep me in the saddle. Besides, this was supposed to be a POSITIVE BREAK FROM THE ARENA and it was quickly turning into “not positive”. On the other hand, I WILL NOT reward such behavior by heading back in, either. So, we walked. She jumped several more times, but at least the spinning ceased. She balked. I sent her forward. She sat and swished her tail. I sent her forward. She jigged. We halted and enjoyed the scenery. We walked on, and I breathed for her. She relaxed a little.

Upon our return to the main drag, we headed into the arena. I established a nice trot and got my 2-point assessment out of the way. She trotted. I 2-pointed. She relaxed a stretched her topline! I continued to 2-point. She got bored. I continued to 2-point. She thought about walking. I put my leg on her and continued to 2-point. She stretched further! I continued to 2-point. I felt my core start to wobble a little. I continued to 2-point. She ignored my leg and decided this time, she was going to walk anyway. I continued to 2-point! She decided I was just dumb for not sitting down, so she halted. I continued to 2-point. I kicked her back up into a walk, and I MAINTAINED MY 2-POINT! She walked about 6 steps, and my core gave out.

This is a huge improvement from last week, where I lost it when she changed gaits! Maybe one day I can 2-point through all of my transitions…

We went on to practice nice, quiet canter work. I tried to make her look like a hunter pony by cantering on a long, loose rein. She would lose her balance, and we would circle. She let me move her shoulders around some, and I was able to lift the inside a little. Then we popped over some cross-rails before calling it quits. She had already showed some interested in jumping the 3’6” oxer, but I didn’t think we were actually ready for that, yet. There is no doubt in my mind that she can clear it, but we’re still focusing on other things. Like, where to take off!

The first approach to the cross-rail was quiet and relaxed. I 2-pointed and breathed. I waited. As calm as can be, she took the long spot! I wasn’t ready for that, so I tried to follow with my hands so I didn’t punish her for jumping, and she landed without the head dive, and cantered right off. That’s something else we’ve been working on – cantering away on the far side.

I'm too sexy for my canter...
You see, I started over with the jumping training after the first massage. She has been jumping on the lunge, and we’ve been riding poles under saddle. We started over cross-rails again by trotting them. She has been so wonderful about trotting in and trotting out while I focus on steady position and waiting for her to fold me up in the take-off. She is so relaxed about these cross-rails that when we canter into them, she trots out the far side! This doesn’t actually seem like a bad problem to have. However, we will canter courses again, so the game has become “exit as you enter”.
I knew I wanted to circle left and take the cross-rail again, and she had landed on the left lead, so we were set! I sat, rode my circle, lined up the jump, and rode the same line, this time, I just closed my hand 2 strides out to say “wait for one more, don’t take the long spot.” She waited. I looked right to prepare for my circle right to the same jump. She landed on the right lead, and I sat and circled. Again, I lined up the jump, and she took the long spot! *sigh* I didn’t want to pick a fight, as I knew I didn’t have enough core left to back it up. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and we can always come back with gymnastic lines to fix it. I just took one more right circle, asked 2 strides out for the “wait”, and we got our jump from a more comfortable spot. We rode out the far side on a relatively straight line and halted about 4 strides away. She was somewhat supple! Once halted, she was mostly square, and she was alive with attentiveness and ready to do whatever I asked next! I was so happy with her willingness to listen, I just hopped off right then and there! We were done. I loosened all buckles and we walked back to the barn. She seemed pleased with herself, and I felt it was as good an ending as any after the way our ride started.

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