Windy and cold

Temperatures were dropping rapidly and the wind was blowing hard from the north as I got into the tack. The curtains on the arena were moving a bit with the wind, which made her spook a bit, but never more than just a step.

Today’s concept was staying evenly between the reins which at times she did very well at. Canter work is improving as she gets more practice and strength. I didn’t do as much cantering today because I didn’t want her to work up a big sweat with the cold snap coming, and she worked reasonably hard Monday and Tuesday.

After our ride today, all horses came in to stalls and I put blankets on. My camera is acting up at the moment (apparently it is not visual media week for me), but here she is in her blanket in her stall eating that yummy hay that Jim says your horses shouldn’t have. Ha ha. She doesn’t get that all the time, don’t worry.

Abby all tucked in for the night

Abby all tucked in for the night

Jump lesson auditing

I tacked up and rode with Magee and Megan during part of the warm up for their jumping lesson. Then I got off her and re-set jumps for the two for the rest of the time. She was really good about it. After they were done and walking out in the arena, I worked Abby a little more seriously and then did a wobbly, inconsistent dressage test that I made up as I went:

Video fail

So, I hadn’t ridden her since last Wednesday due to traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. She was a little light on her feet in walk and trot and managed a pretty good buck in canter. We did a fair amount of cantering after that, which actually went quite well. She is starting to breathe and relax in canter which is lovely. Nice relaxed walk warm down.

So, after the ride was over, I went to turn off the video camera which I had rolling on a tripod in the corner. After untacking I went in the house to upload it and it had only recorded about 3 minutes before the battery gave out. D’oh!

Solo hack

We started out in the indoor, and after a walk warm up did some sidepassing, which she really decided was difficult to the right today. These things happen and we got through it with only some minor negotiation. Trot went well, with no volunteer renvers (woohoo). Canter had a few humpy bucks and a few wrong leads, but that is par for the course. It all came out fine in the end and we actually did a little more cantering than we have the last few rides and did some 20 m circles in canter which weren’t half bad.

Then we walked out the arena door for a solo hack. She marched away from the barn completely unperturbed. We went down the grassed waterway and across some gnarly frozen plowed ground, which she dealt with just fine. Then through some CRP with grass taller than her head. No worries to her. Then we walked up the (low traffic, gravel) road to highway 210. Along the way, we kicked up a rooster pheasant from the ditch and she only had one hesitant step. Nice shy in place. There was a big truck at the end of the gravel road, looked like waiting for its buddy. She had to go in front of the idling big truck and then go down a relatively steep bank into the wide ditch. She did it perfectly and walked home on a loose rein.

If she keeps this good behavior up, someone is going to request her “Chestnut Mare Beware” Card back…

Canter circles and sidepassing

Abby the Ridiculously Cute

Abby the Ridiculously Cute

Lifestyle note: Elliot is quite in love with Abby which she parlays into complete control of his every movement as he hustles to do her bidding. It is quite hilarious. I try to tell him he is making a fool of himself, but he’ll hear none of it.

I brought her in and tacked her up with no difficulty. In the indoor we did a long walk warm up and I was introducing contact. I walked around for a good 20 minutes and she had some nice moments of relaxation in the poll.

On to trot work where she only did one overzealous unsolicited haunches out left and got over it pretty quickly. We did some reasonably round 20 m circles and had some poll relaxation at times.

Canter work went pretty well in both directions. We had one little blip where she kicked out with her left hind while going right. Her hoof came in contact with the aptly-named kickboard. It made a loud crack which surprised her. Gave her religion apparently as she was quite good after that. Even had a 20 m canter circle in both directions.

At the end of the ride, I was going to introduce sidepassing, but it seems someone has already done that quite nicely. I only have to shore it up a little. Very nice.

Solo hack

Abby, Sammy and Elliot enjoy the new-fallen snow.

Abby, Sammy and Elliot enjoy the new-fallen snow.

I rode in the afternoon when it was in the balmy mid-20s. I started in walk as usual, but especially because I had the side door open in the arena so that after warm up I could just ride out the door for our planned first solo hack. The first few times past the door, she shied mightily at the puppies who were hunting mice in the woodpile. She got over that nicely and then when we trotted by it, she thought she might just duck out the door. We discussed the wisdom of that and carried on in a straight line.

After a few circuits around the arena, Jay came in and was watching us work. She started doing the most pronounced renvers that it has been the lot of this arena to ever see. I sent her forward and she continued in this crabtrot for half the long side. I asked Jay what she was doing and he said, “It looks like her hind end is trying to pass her front end!” LOL. That was a pretty good description. I sent her forward and she got over it pretty well.

When we went in to canter she bucked on several occasions, being a bit cheeky. Poor dear just had to keep going even though she was bucking, so pretty soon she figured out to maybe just canter nicely, which we achieved in both directions.

Since that went so well <cough>, I rode her out the arena door, past the scary coolers that were blowing in the breeze, hanging on the horizontal supports of the windmill, past the dogs and out for a completely sedate solo walk around the pasture. Yay.

All the way around the end of the arena

When I went out to get Abby and bring her in, she walked right up to me and put her face in the halter, a little different than yesterday when I had to follow her for about 30 seconds before she turned and let me halter her. I thought that she must be coming to appreciate my stellar personality, but no, she was shivering just a little from the cold light rain, and thought I might be able to take her somewhere warmer. This despite the fact that she has a beautiful run in shed that Jay made that she could have stayed perfectly warm in.

She was only a bit chilled, so I groomed her and tacked up and went into the indoor. We walked for a long time to let her muscles warm and relax and it was nice to just groove along with her. Then we did some trot work. To the right she wants to tilt her head sometimes. I will be interested to see how that goes. We did some work in figures in trot. She’d really like to follow the wall and wonders why I insist on circles and serpentines and tear drops (and next week figure 8s), but she plays along tolerantly.

In canter, we had some success going entirely around the ring, including the short sides. She had a few, um, really tall strides in a row that could be construed as a series of bucks. Never laid an ear back. Funny girl.

Lifestyle note: Quite a craptastic night out, so she is in the middle stall with Charlie on one side and Sammy on the other. Good to be the queen.

In the Tack

Madison’s Abby Road is a darling 3.5 year old chestnut mare with an oversized blaze. She’s been trailridden and started well and now it is my job to get her just a little more sophisticated in her understanding of the fun of life as a riding horse. Today was the first ride, so there was no pressure, just a getting to know you time. I brought her in and groomed her. She has some rain rot (?) spots that are pretty crunchy, so I got all the scabs off under the saddle but let the others alone for the most part. I cleaned her hooves and tacked up. I put her in a nathe rather than her usual snaffle because I am eventually going to ask her to go on contact and I like the nathe for introducing that.

She walked off a bit when I got on, but I didn’t make a big deal of it, but I will be a little clearer about it on the next ride. For now I wanted to keep it all positive. We walked around the arena and came to the mirrors where she stood for a long minute to admire herself. Just charming, this horse.

Then on to trot where she displayed her lovely tempo. This horse has an onboard metronome. Fabulous.

She likes the right lead better than the left and says that cantering around the end of the arena is haaaaard. She mentioned she might buck, but only in passing. She managed to canter around the end of the arena once in both directions and I let it be. Very nice start.