We’re a week out from Regional champs and I am afraid to say it – both Faeryn and Faxx are working really well. It was a gorgeous day yesterday – I lunged Faxx as usual and then got on him and he felt very strange at the walk – could hardly get him to take more than a step or two and then he would stop. Last fall he bucked me off pretty spectacularly when I got on him straight out of his stall one morning without lunging him. I got on, he took one step forward and then reared straight up into the air, and then as soon as his front feet hit the ground he started bucking in place. It is much harder, BTW, to stick on a horse who is bucking in PLACE than it is to stick one that’s going forward and bucking. I stuck through buck #3, and the bucking strap BROKE and I went flying. As I laid on the ground, still holding the broken bucking strap, assessing my various body parts and their status, I remembered he reacted the exact same way the first time I put the saddle on him. So, from that day forward, he gets lunged at canter both ways, just 5 minutes or so – to warm up his back.
Last night part of me just wanted to boot him forward, but something did not seem right. He felt very unwilling to go foward, and he felt like he was walking on eggs.
So, I listened to that little voice in my head, and got off, and lunged him again, about 2 minutes each direction. When I got ont he second time, he stepped out smartly in his usual walk. So, that tells me there WAS something wrong. It could have been the saddle pad stretched too tightly across his withers – I noticed that and loosened the girth and pulled it up when I got off of him. Or, his back still could have been cold. I am glad I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and didn’t just assume he was not wanting to work. Then we had a lovely ride – his halts are much, much better. And amazingly enough, I now get better work from him in sitting trot than rising trot.
It was almost dark by the time I got to Faeryn and I turned on my arena lights for the first time since last winter. It is always ‘fun’ to ride them under lights the first time of the season (and one of my lights is burned out – the one down by the ‘scary’ end, of course.) I fully expected a spook-filled ride, given those two things. But I was surprised. Faeryn was focused, business-like and did not spook once! Her canter departs are better, and I am getting better about riding the canter/trot and the trot/walk transitions – pushing her foward through them so she does not dump on her forehand. She still wants to lean on the reins and/or go with her neck too low at the walk, so I used leg and an occasional tap with the whip to get her more up in the walk. I did a lot of trot/walk transitions to get her trot more animated,and also did work on my centerline halts. She did about three in a row that were absolutely perfect – square in front and back. She has been leaving her right hind ‘out’ so I have to concentrate on using more right leg, a bit farther back, to encourage her to step up – but at the same time not let her actually swing her haunches left because of my stronger right leg.
I took Fling for a lesson Wednesday evening and got her trot much more improved and we worked on trot half pass, which is coming along, and then worked on canter half pass, which I felt really was awful, but turned out to be not as bad as I thought! And, in the ‘this is why you need a ground person’ file – she was slightly leading in haunches in all the half passes, which did not feel that way at ALL to me. It still feels to me like she does not have enough bend, especially at canter, but Marie says that isnot the case – she has plenty of bend. So that was a nice surprise – fixing the haunches leading is a lot easier than fixing not enough bend! 🙂