Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Yesterday evening was the perfect night for a ride. I went out to the barn with the intention of riding Cash, but he got an eye injury this week. The barn owner let me ride a cute little Appaloosa instead. She warned me beforehand that he would want to go where he wanted to go, but he wouldn't hurt me or do anything spazzy. Well, that's just Appytude for you.

I got on bareback and rode for about half an hour in the outdoor arena. He did pull some when he wanted to go back toward the gate, but it was nothing I haven't dealt with before. I did what I usually do, and made the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. As long as he went where I wanted, he got nice relaxed rein contact and me quiet on his back. If he started to barge off in his own direction, he got a gentle leg aid to block him from barging. If he didn't listen, he got a stronger leg aid and a rein check. As soon as he quit, back to me being gentle and quiet.

Overall it was a fun ride. He's a mellow horse who has a been-there-done-that kind of attitude. I just walked and trotted, but spent a good amount of time working on my sitting trot. I was very pleased to notice that I didn't get nearly as sore or tired as I expected. In fact, I still feel great today! I guess the gym is helping more than I thought.

Anyway, here's a picture of the view from Caddo's back:

After my ride, it was time to work with Halo. She whinnied and came when I called, which made me a happy horse mom. I was thrilled to see that the barn owners have finally opened up the bigger pastures for the horses during the day. Halo had spent all day enjoying fresh grass and more room to run and play with her buddies. She also made a new friend, a cute chestnut arab with a flaxen mane and tail. The benefits of having spent the day out in a bigger field were evident in her workout. She was very relaxed, and had less spastic energy than she usually does during her mid-week workout.

Though she was fantastic on the longe line, there was one setback last night that is going to require some work. While tied at the hitching rail she usually stands relaxed with her head down, or tries to eat grass on the other side of the rail if she can. Tonight she was doing that, but managed to get her head caught under the lead rope. What ensued was a panicked spazzing, backing up, and sliding on the mats until her head came free, and then she continued to set back for a few more seconds. Thank god that hitching rail is rooted in cement, or it could have been a huge wreck.

She quieted quickly after the episode was over, but she now has a big welt on the side of her neck where the rope was caught. Poor filly. Ideally, it would be nice to have somewhere to tie her above her head where something like this couldn't occur. However, there isn't a safe place like that at my barn. What I am going to do instead is spend some time teaching her a cue that Tara, one of her former owners, worked with her on before I got her. Tara taught Halo that pressure on the poll means "put your head down." Halo still responds to the cue, but it is time to take it to the next level. I plan to start working with her with the rope until she will give to pressure anywhere on her neck, head or face. She also needs practice with ropes being tossed over her face as would be done with reins. Right now she's still a little head shy about that. With how good Halo has become about longeing, I guess I should be glad she's given me a new project to work on. I just wish she hadn't had to injure herself to let me know that I needed to work on it.

At the end of the night it was time for worming, so I weighed and measured her to make sure I was giving the right dosage. Halo weighs in right now at about 800lbs according to the weight tape, and she is 14h or so. What she lacks in height, she is definitely starting to make up in width. As soon as she finishes shedding out, I'm going to post some new conformation pictures.


Leah Fry said...

I'll be interested to hear the technique you use to accomplish the yielding to pressure. That's always stuff I can use.

spazfilly said...

Have you ever read any books by John Lyons? I'm not one to follow the methodologies of any one trainer down to the letter, but he does have a good basis with his "conditioned response" program. Hopefully I can achieve that with Halo, and I'll keep posting!