Friday, June 24, 2011

Back in the saddle again.

You know you just sang the title of this post.

After a full week (Ok, I went out Monday and bathed both horses, dropped off grain, and turned them out.) of not being at the barn, I finally got to go out again! Woo hoo! A number of sad, sad factors led to me being homeward bound. First, I got even more sick than I was before and felt like total un-breathing shite, then the washer broke and flooded the house (and since I used all the towels to mop up the floor, and the washer still isn't fixed thanks to our wonderful landlord, we have no bath towels), and the Saturn's service engine light is on. But the main thing is that we had zero monies. Well, that's a lie. There was six dollars in the checking account and two dollars in my wallet. Poor Woman Showing indeed. Hubby's parents lent us $100 (Yes, I'm 24 and he's 28 and we still have to borrow from our parents sometimes. Don't hate. Times is tough.) and we were able to buy the rest of the grain we needed, a bag of dog food, and enough gas for me to drive down to the barn and drop off enough grain to get us to the next paycheck. Hubby's work pays for the gas for his company truck. Lucky.

I was happy to see my ponies again! Red got abused first--literally. He got walloped in the head when he nipped at me. No bad manners from my ponies. I do not tolerate it. Other than that, he was his usual polite self for me to groom and tack up. I dropped my stirrups to dressage length and gave Red Pony a serious dressage schooling. He was sticky, sticky, sticky with his leg yields but I had my spurs on and we worked through it to get him really reaching under himself and not over-bending like he can do to the right. He did an excellent turn on the forehand in each direction, then two steps of HALF PASS. What?! You read it sister. He was facing the rail and it was one step totally crossed over front and back legs, a BIG pat, a sticky step, then another step of it. He may be a naughty diva sometimes, but he can also be a fancy pants.

We did a great trot work after that. I took up more contact than I usually ride with--which is probably the appropriate dressage amount, but my H/J princess roots have wrecked me a little--and got a big, monster trot out of him. No toe dragging, not lagging, no nose tipped out--real power dressage pony with lots of bending. We did figure eights over half the arena, circles, serpentines, and more leg yields.

The canter was not as superb--at least not to the right. I got him more forward at the canter, but I felt like I was having to lift him up several times. I tried to do a flying change across the arena, but he missed it so I brought him back down to the walk and tried again. And again. The problem was that he doesn't like the feeling of the spurs asking him to go forward. He doesn't mind them for bending help, but forward cues make him tense up and refuse to go faster/into the next gait. I finally just jabbed him hard until he went (I know, I know. Poor horsemanship, but it worked.) and he picked it the front only. So then we had to come back to the walk and try again. This time he got it and we did lots and lots of circles going to the right, all the way down to a tiny ten meter circle. He was working super hard to get it, but he did and I let him stretch out and go all the way around the arena.

But that's not all! After some walking on the buckle, I popped him over the fences (barrels, crossrail, solid wall, and liverpool/ditch) a few times each at a slow hunter canter. I finally let him finish with that. I hope I'll be able to get out both days this weekend, but probably not at all until next Friday.

Bobby got the draw reins today. I put them to the sides and got my dressage whip and set out to have an equally successful schooling on him as I had on Red. His leg yields were so-so, and we attempted his first turn on the forehand with little success (only about two steps that I actually was satisfied), but he did do two really nice rein backs. I was actually happier with his trot than with Red's. I didn't have to push as hard to get him to open up as Red and he was really rhythmical and balanced. Definitely a case where draw reins were used right and really helped him out. They'll go back in the box for another month or so.

Bobby's canter. Sigh. We started to the right since that's been his stronger side. Since my stirrups were so long, half-seat wasn't really an option so this was the first time I've sat to his canter in a long, long while. Yikes. My. Legs. Were. Wrecked. Pushing and holding and pushing and pushing and keeping myself in the right position and paaaaiiinn. Those stifles need some more hill work! They're definitely getting stronger, but he's still lacking behind. He was actually MUCH better to the left. Not as rushed and able to balance a little more. I took a little shorter hold on the inside draw reins since he tends to tip his head to the outside going to the left and he responded loverly. Plus, I was actually able to SIT without feeling like I was bouncing all over the place.

I didn't jump anything with him, but I did make him walk in between the ground poles with the tarp in the middle. He wasn't so sure that was a fun game, but after he stomped on the tarp a few times, he decided it was safe enough and walked through like a good boy.

So YAY for dressage ponies! Both boys definitely need more days like that from now on.

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