Back in the tack

Finally some kinder temperatures! Good enough to get back in the tack and feeling pretty balmy at 30 degrees. When I pulled the blanket off, it was clear that she hasn’t really suffered in the cooler weather. Plenty of cover over the ribs to be sure.

I groomed her and tacked up and she had an amused look on her face the entire time. We went in the arena and she started out in a perfect flat-footed walk, which surprised me a bit since they have been locked in the barnyard to avoid some ice in the pasture. But she did very well in walk and trot and only had one little tiny moment of extreme roundness that I wouldn’t even characterize as a buck.

We did the caveletti and the cross rail jump in both directions, which went very well. Yay.

Jump from a canter

They stayed in last night due to the snowfall, so after their breakfast and cleaning stalls, she was a fidgety cricket in the cross ties, even managing to poop in my plastic barn chair. I suppose that is why I have a plastic chair.

When I got on her, she was all back-up and goofy, so we walked a fe minutes to get her to settle. When we started trot, there was a lot of tail swishing. This happens with her sometimes if the girth is a little loose. Since she hasn’t sprung much of a wither (yet, I hope), the saddle tends to slide forward, sit on her shoulders and make her uncomfortable. So I got off, readjusted the saddle, snugged it up and carried on and she was much better.

We did a fair amount of trot work including cavaletti work, which she is doing well at. Then we did the cavaletti followed by a turn to the to cross rail in trot. She was straight and in rhythm to it every time, and when she started landing in canter from the cross rail, then it was time to approach it in a balanced canter.

We spent a little time balancing up the canter, especially in 20 circles and then presented to the jump. By the grace of the Universe, the distance worked perfectly and she jumped it happily, in unchanging temp and straight. And we quit for the day.

Supposed to be very cold (below zero) tonight and (high in single digits) tomorrow. She has a blanket on and will be in the barn tonight, but probably out tomorrow as it is supposed to be sunny, and on the south side of the barn it is usually very pleasant, even when very cold.

First cross rail

We warmed up with some walk work, asking her to come from behind and to yield in her poll, both of which were on track relatively quickly. Then, in trot, I introduced the idea of half halt, and she is picking up on that very well, even maintaining tempo independently at times. I think she could turn out to be a nice light horse in the hand because she really has pretty good natural balance, is attentive and wants to please.

Then we trotted from the cavaletti to the cross rail and she trotted right over it as if it was a cavaletto. It was pretty hilarious actually, and she rec’d much praise for the effort. She was pretty proud of herself. The second time she actually jumped it, the third and fourth she ran out left (completely unsurprising. There seems to be a stage early in the game where they think, “You know, you could just go around. Let me show you.”). But the fifth and sixth attempts she did excellently. Four times over was enough cross rail jumping for the day. Very good girl.

Canter work and trot cavaletti

We did a fair amount of canter transitions and some cavaletti. She is getting much more balanced in her canter departs! She rarely gets a wrong lead now and while in canter, she allows much more influence from her rider.

We also cantered through the standards with the poles on the ground which she did without a problem. Most a review day, and it went very well.

Raised Cavaletti

I’m glad I didn’t look at the thermometer before I went out to ride today because when I came in the house and looked, it was 16 degrees, and I might have been moved to ride the couch this Sunday afternoon rather than the horses. But all in all, it wasn’t too bad out so off to the barn I went.

Jay was out puttering around and came into the arena, and after Abby and I had a warm up, he helped me with cavaletti. I started out with the exercise we finished with yesterday, the two cavaletti on the ground and one raised cavaletti. She did well with that, so after a few trips through, Jay raised the middle one. She coped well with that, and so after a few successes, we added the third raised cavaletti. She is learning balance and strength, so she isn’t stellar through them yet, but it was good enough that we thought you’d like to see it, so he shot two videos with his phone:

Cavaletti

I tacked up and had a long walk warm up to help with relaxing in her poll and being more consistent in the connection. Then on to trot where the work carried over nicely. Then some canter work where we had a bit of difficulty with leads, but worked it out.

Then we introduced cavaletti work into the mix. We started with 3 rails on the ground and when she mastered that, raised the last rail onto a jump block lying flat on the ground. She did quite well with it and I congratulated her and let it be for the day.

Then Magee and I rode Abby and Eddie, who she had been riding in the arena, out for a walk in the pasture to cool out. That went well, and when we got back to the pasture gate, Jay had let loose the puppies, so we took them on a walk around the pasture again, with us still on the horses. The ran around like crazy, chasing each other and Abby was fine with it.

Walking with the dogs

We rode in the indoor and had some nice work in walk and canter. The trot work is coming along, but it is probably the least developed gait at this time. After our session in the indoor which had included enough canter work that she was pretty warm. It was a nice evening, so I took her out for a cooling walk in the pasture. Jay saw us heading out and decided to come along with the dogs. The puppies were running around like the possessed, to the point where when they galloped by they sounded like the finish line at Prairie Meadows. Abby was wary of them, but I think was more concerned about them running into her legs than anything. That was a legitimate concern. We worry about the same thing! But she managed it well and dealt with all the dog antics and the newfoundland bear stalking behind her, which really unnerves some horses.

Pretty fun day.

Christmas lights

So I tacked up in the balmy 18 degree weather, which seriously felt that way after the last few days. We had a long walk warm up in the arena, while, since it was dusk, I wondered if the timer on the Christmas lights Jay strung up might click on while we were riding by, and just exactly what Herself might think of that. She’s a pretty good sort, so I thought she would deal, but it was interesting to think about.

On to trot work, which was a bit exuberant at first, but came around nicely. She had a lot of energy today and it really helped with her coming over her topline and down to the bit. (Just another reminder from the Universe that the neck and head are simply decorative expressions of what is happening behind the saddle.)

The Christmas miracle of the canter continued today. She did manage to buck twice, but they seem to be just youthful exuberance, and they pass after one. She is staying between the rein and leg aids much better these days, which makes canter work much more organized.

Disappointingly, the Christmas lights came on after we were done. Maybe I’ll ride slightly later in the day tomorrow. 😉

Ten degrees and counting

Temperatures started out in the morning around 1 degree. There wasn’t much wind, so I turned them out with a bunch of hay. In the afternoon I went out to the barn, not necessarily to ride because it had warmed up to only 10. However it didn’t feel that terribly cold and Magee was there and was game to ride, so she rode Sammy and I rode Abbey in the indoor.

We had a long walk warmup where I worked on Abbey coming over her back and relaxing her poll, which she is starting to achieve more consistently. Trot work is improving, but she loses her balance slightly, quite often, as a green horse will do. However, she clearly gets the idea and tries, and earns much praise for it.

We practiced sidepassing with some quite acceptable work. More praise.

We initially had a few wrong leads, but after that, canter was a Christmas miracle today. She was able to maintain an even tempo and had some moments of stretching over her topline. All in all it just felt a lot more organized. We didn’t work long in canter because I didn’t want her to work up a sweat in the cold.

Magee had been warming up Sammy while Abbey and I were working. Abbey had a walk cool down while Magee jumped a few jumps with Sammy. Great fun for all.

All horses are in the barn tonight. I know they can withstand the cold, especially on a nearly windless night like tonight, but the barn is nicely snug with the 5 horses in it, everybody gets to eat their own hay without negotiations, and they can lie down in soft bedding. So I kept them in, pretty much because I can. 🙂