Monday, February 25, 2013

Game Face

Hubby finally got home Saturday after a weeklong business trip in Nashville, so I didn't go to the barn that day, but Sunday came around warm enough that the ground wasn't frozen rock solid. Kind of, sort of rideable ground on a non-hunting day? Trail ride, here we come!

Bobby was in sleepy snuggle mode when I walked in, but his entire left side was covered in dry pee, including under his chin, so I was like, "Um, pass, you dirty goat." After I got him slightly less disgusting, I indulged him and we had a good head rub and ear tug.

There was enough wet snow still on the ground that things were pretty slippery. As much as I wanted to go out and spend two hours on trail, I had to nix the idea and instead we did our first conditioning work of the year. Almost as much fun, if only because it wasn't arena work. The field we worked in has mowed paths that make a big triangle. We "walked" the short side, "trotted" the long side where the ground rolls up and down, and then turned and did a "slow" canter uphill on the opposite long side. We did three sets.

Our walk was a jig, our trot varied between extended and lengthened, and our slow canter featured prancing leaps and the occasional test of brakes--as in, "Hey, rider lady. Do you know how to pull the E brake? Let's see!"

bobby did this move while cantering...

and this move. (pics are my former pygmy baby mable. aww!)

I never felt like he was out of control, and I never felt like I was going to get dumped or run off with. I kept a firm grip on my breastplate and let him do his thing. Cheekiness aside, he was on the bit the entire time and I could feel how round and up his back was under me. (I will say that I think the trick where you practice your trot lenthenings in an open field was patented by an eventer doing condionting work.) When we were done, I bridged my reins in one hand, stuck the other in my pocket, and he marched home perfectly polite and still perfectly connected through his entire body. A great way to spend forty minutes.

long walk home.
The best part about Sunday's ride was that I finally felt like I was doing something. I can always tell how weak his hind end is by how much he struggles to trot uphill. He was certainly struggling Sunday, but he was able to do it so that was a plus; this time last year, he could only walk or canter uphill. I like that I have a starting point and an end goal, and I like that I'm finally able to take the steps to fix the issue. I also like having a starting point for my own hind end work. Three minutes of two point is my current baseline. Yikes. Trot sets, I cannot wait to embrace you!

cookie face.
Today was dressage day. BO doesn't teach lessons Monday so once more I had a free arena. Fuck. Yeah. We warmed up with some leg yields, slowly bringing them further off the rail until I asked him to leg yield from the centerline. Tracking right, he couldn't quite pull it off so I problem solved at the walk and figured out that he could slip right over if I started asking for it as I was turning instead of once we were already going straight. He got big, big pats for a job well done and we switched directions. He's also been more resistant to the left as his left stifle is worse than his right. He gets inverted and sticky, but the same trick helped him out and he did an okay one this direction as well.

His canter is still a little wild. We spent most of it working on slowing down off the seat without breaking into the trot. He curls behind the bit and tries to lean on me when we're having this discussion, but unfortunately for him, I spent six years riding a horse who lived on his forehand and it's one of the few issues I am completely confident in kicking in the ass. When we were done, he was going on a circle carrying himself with a soft rein. Sucker.

We ended with the first full run-throughs of Novice B and Training A. Novice B was a little hairy at parts, but by the time we moved on to Training A, he had his brain in gear and did a relatively nice test.

Here's the thing about Bobby. He has his Baby Horsie moments at home, he can cop an attitude, and he can be a downright ass when he doesn't want to do something, but when we're at shows, he is one hundred percent business. He has no interest in fooling around. He's there to do his job, he's intense in his concentration, and he's a little bit of a show off. He sees the tack starting to come out and he won't even take a cookie. He just stands there like a statue until it's time to go. He was in competition mode for Training A.

not a face that says, "i'm fancy."
Every correction I made, I barely had to ask before he fixed it. He didn't get above the bit in any of his transitions. The canter lengthening back to working canter only took a little sinking of my seat. The stretchy trot circle never lost rhythm and never got quick despite coming off of a lengthening. His halt was precise and square. He just goes into this mode where he's doing his job, he wants to do it well, and he doesn't want you to get in his way. Tell him what to do and sit back and let him do it.

I can't wait to start showing again.

waiting for him to finish drying off, hence the sweat marks.
such an unfortunate looking dude.

4 comments:

  1. Love it. Bobby is a looker! and I LOVE his "let's do this" attitude.

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  2. Love this post!! Sounds like you guys have been having a lot of fun.

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  3. Sounds like two great days in the saddle - may you have many more such positive experience & roll on show season! :D

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