Back to the barn

In better news, the weather, my health, work schedule and every other star aligned last week for me to set up my first lesson since early December. Not only that, but I also went out today and rode!

Last weeks lesson was my first time on Jillie, a big black (warmblood? chunky TB?) mare my trainer M acquired in the earlier part of last year. She’s about 15, and while at one point she was jumping 5 foot supposedly, it was way too young/too fast, and whether because of that or the 101 other reasons horses get hurt, she had a rear leg injury that wasn’t rehabbed particularly well and she’s delegated to flatwork. Which is perfectly fine, because miss Jillie has a proficiency to about Third level in dressage (!!!). Possibly Fourth. Shoulders-in, haunches-in, half-pass in trot and canter, counter-canter, balanced 10m circles at the canter – it’s all there.

And I got the chance to learn a bit from her! Granted, she’s still out of shape – she lost over 200lbs in the first six months TM had her, but is still pretty round (could be fluff… the stretch of below-zero days [without windchill] we had in the middle of January probably took care of her and anyone else that was legit overweight). Moreover, I am quite out of shape, so we weren’t doing anything exceptional.

Still – she was SO much fun! After we had walked out the creaks and cobwebs, we started working on suppleness and bending with haunches and shoulder-in, just at the walk. The great thing about this mare is the more lateral work she does, the better she goes – but then she starts anticipating! As I discovered once we had started the main exercise of the lesson.

Prior to that TM had me work me just doing a few canter circles where we transitioned from 20m, to 15m, to 10m, and back out going both directions. Then we added in trotting the diagonal, walking at x, and half-way between C and the wall leg-yielding over to the letter M where we picked up the trot, and then canter at C. After doing the whole thing a couple times we then took out the trot set-up and tried to go for a canter from the walk. This being toward the end, both Jillie and I were tiring, but our last transition was much improved from the one before it! TM is convinced there’s a pirouette, or at least half of one, in there, and that as her fitness improves she can start moving towards that.

Then there was my ride today on this fluffball.

20180130_162416.jpgall up in your business, always

Mr. River was recently sold, but due to a Crazy Mom (new trainer to my trainer), this little girl’s dream pony is back at our place. With some of his old tricks making their presence known. Like, not being able to bridle him unless you literally have one of your legs behind his front one and also keeping the halter on.

I rode him for about 30 minutes, and my goals went from…

  1. Get his heart rate up with some steady trot work (lots of circles of varying sizes, serpentines, figure 8s, long and short diagonals)
  2. Some canter figure 8s using 20m circles, trot in the middle
  3. lots of smooth transitions

To…

  1. How about basically smooth transitions and just trotting quietly?

This was an unfortunate combination of several things. For about fifteen minutes after our warm-up I was trying to establish a contact with him, and TM (who was doing a lesson with someone else at the time) reminded me he’d probably had someone rip his mouth apart long before she got him, and he doesn’t really do contact – oh and he also likely needs to see the chiropractor. The first part was something she’d told me the last time I rode him (like… 4 months ago?), and while I remembered his other quirks, that was not one of them. Sorry River! He’s actually super sensitive to both rein and leg aides, so I immediately changed tactics, but I had him rather annoyed by that point. Hence the goal changes! At the end of our ride I finally had some steady trot and no head tossing on the transitions so we ended with that. Once off, I think he was able to forgive me. I tried to take a few pictures of him but as he wanted to literally be RIGHTNEXTTOME I opted for a video instead. Unfortunately its more creamy blur than anything but whatever he’s still cute.

He was even happier once I pulled out an apple after we got in the crossties. So, two fun rides in less than a week and while my frozen, cracked fingers hate me it was worth the psychological benefits!

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