Shedding and balance

Can spring be far behind?

I  took off her blanket and groomed her and her hair is starting to come off in earnest.  What a lovely sign of spring!  I tacked her up and rode in the indoor as it wasn’t the most pleasant day out and the footing was not great.

So we rode in the arena and she was very good.  She had some moments of real balance and relaxation (along with some moments of tension and quickness of course), but the balance and relaxation outnumbered the other moments quite nicely.  We ended up doing quarter line to quarter line leg yield, to canter depart, 15 m circle, then quarter line to quarter line leg yield the other way, to canter depart, 15 m circle and repeat.  This is a great balancing exercise and she just got better and better.

I let her have a nice roll in the sand after she was done.

Hack out in the sunshine

It has been a dreary week, so 42 degrees and sunshine felt like a good day for a hack.  We walked down the hill to the end of the road and then trotted and cantered back up.  She is not lame in this video.  I am posting.:

 

Sunshine over the cemetery is good reason to have ears up!

Sunshine over the cemetery is good reason to have ears up!

Then we had a walk break and continued on our merry way to Dalandar cemetery.  On the way, we worked on lengthening and shortening her walk and trot through the seat aids to good effect.  Doing the same in canter had some success, but she mentioned that she felt pretty good and spring was in the air, so coming back was a bit less effective than one might hope, but she did eventually come back.

We had a nice hack home in all gaits and walked the last quarter mile to cool down.  Then I untacked her and let her roll in the arena, which she was all about.

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On the trip home

Hilly hack

Only 34 degrees and overcast, but good footing on the gravel, so I tacked her up and rode her at a walk down the hill to the end of the road.  She took a few funny steps on the gravel, so I moved her over to the softer side and she was fine.  We trotted all the way back up the hill, then had a walk to the corner to catch her breath.  She felt really quite well in trot up the hill!  Happy to go.

Too breezy to continue up on the flat, so we turned around and walked back down the steep part of the hill, then had some very nice canter work on the less steep part of the hill.  Then another trot back up the hill, working on coming forward and going back in trot from my seat and she did very well!

Elsa goes on a hack (and tunes into the seat!)

IMG_5713Nice day, so obviously, time for a hack!  We took a nice long walk down the hill, partially because I wanted her to have a nice slow warmup since she hasn’t been out for a hack (to my knowledge) in a while, and because I wondered about the footing on the often-shady hill down to the river.  The footing turned out to be great, so we trotted back up the hill.  Then we had a walk past the barn on our way to the cemetery, and on to some more trot work, working on her responding to seat aids, and it worked surprisingly well, which was really wonderful.

IMG_5717On we went to the cemetery, which we both find really peaceful.  We tarried there a bit because it was quite beautiful.

Then a walk and trot down the road back to the main road.  A crew was working on that old house on the corner.  They had all sorts of stuff going – jackhammers, nail guns, you name it.  She had a little bit of a reaction to the surprise of the nail gun, but after a bit, dealt with it just fine.

5:15 p.m. and still light. Spring is coming!

5:15 p.m. and still light. Spring is coming!

On the main road we had a quarter mile or so of about a  450 mpm hand gallop, which she enjoyed immensely, and I may have been grinning as well.  Then a trot on the east/west road that goes back to the barn, where she suggested I take this picture.

We had a nice walk the last quarter mile back, and then I untacked her and let her have a good roll in the sand.  She proceeded to run about and buck a bit after rolling too.  Crazy kid.  Good girl.

Some looseness

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I tried to take a picture of Elsa rolling tonight, but my camera had gone into hibernation when it got cold. So here is a picture of Tag rolling. Hers looked a lot like this. LOL

Started out in walk work tonight and she was fairly loose right away, which is really lovely.  On to trot, where the trend did not continue spontaneously.  We did a lot of suppling with leg yield to get her to go to the outside rein without leaning on it.  That seemed to help  her a fair amount because we had some very nice canter work.  She is definitely on the right track.

After the ride, I took her tack off and let her roll in the arena, which she did and then she had a brief gallop as well, which she apparently enjoyed immensely!

Letting go

I brought her in groomed and tacked her.  She had moderate snow balls in her front feet.  For horses who are shod in winter, I recommend drilltek for traction and snow poppers to keep the snow from building up.  She stood beautifully for tacking up.  Such a sweet girl.

I had the balancing rein on again today to help her learn a way to relax her poll and not brace.  In walk and trot we had very good success with occasional correction.  Canter is still a brace festival, but by the end she was able to relax for a few more strides in canter than when she started.  Actually very good progress.

Transitions

I noticed her bridle hanging on a stall front today.  I guess it wasn’t really missing yesterday.  I am sure I put it there and forgot it.  It is no worse for the wear and not even dusty.   Yay.

I brought her in and tacked her up and she was her usual darling self.  I put the balancing reins on her again and they are helpful to her I think.  She was tight at first, but by the end was showing some good relaxation in all gaits.  On the right track.

Liking it

I brought her in and let her cavort about in the indoor for a while, after removing her blanket.  The footing is so hard and uneven that they don’t want to move outside, let alone burn off any energy.  She had a good ol’ time in the indoor, with some impressive trotting, buoyant cantering and even some good bucks.  Then I caught her easily and brought her in and tacked her up.

Until I came to her bridle which was not hanging on her hook.  I hope you took it home or put it somewhere else!  I put her in my Micklem bridle that I am loaning to Rylee.  It has a french link on it.  I also rode with a balancing rein today too, which is an additional rein that goes from the girth just below the saddle flap, around the elbow, to the bit and then to the rider’s hand.  I like this set up because it can be very gentle and it does not pull their head down, per se.  I rode her in it when we went on our hack and it worked well for her.

We did a lot of walk and trot work, focusing on her relaxing in her poll and keeping a steady rhythm.  She was pretty tight, but got better and better.  Then on to canter, which started tight, but improved quite a lot by the end.  At the end of the entire ride, she was walking at a nice pace, with her neck relaxed and coming forward out of her shoulder rather than up and tight.  Very good!

Activity!

I rode her before the lesson with Kristen, Miranda and Megan.  We had some time to ourselves and she was doing rather nicely.  Then Miranda came in and was lunging Tag (at my suggestion), and he was being quite the pill and some of that energy rubbed off on Elsa.  She was not naughty, but she was frazzled a bit by it.  Kristen was riding Sif and they were being quite, but it was another mare in her space and she was a little worried about that.

We worked through it and she produced some good work despite the circus, which was excellent.

Hack out in January?

IMG_5343Heck yeah!  Thirty-seven degrees, sunshine and no wind means out we go!  The footing on the gravel roads was really quite good, with a soft top layer and few icy patches.  I put a balancing rein on her (draw rein, but it goes from the girth just below the flap of the saddle instead of the middle of the girth and through the front legs – helps them flex, but not curl) and we started out with some nice walk work to warm up and to help her remember to relax, breathe, and stretch her neck down.  Not much success in that at first because she was on the muscle as they all are this time of year.

Do I really need to wake up?

Do I really need to wake up?

But it got better over time.  We ended up doing a fair amount of trot work, just asking her to stay loose and calmly focused, rather than checking out the terrain or being tight, and she did very well.  We went to the Dalandar Cemetery and back, with a lot of walking on the way back so that she came home dry and cool.  I caught her in mid-blink for this picture.  LOL