We worked in the indoor on staying relaxed over his topline and working with other horses, going with them and opposite them and also just standing still while others worked. He did very well.
I’ve been working slowly along in getting him to be more comfortable in picking up especially his back feet. Mostly he doesn’t know how to shift his weight to his other feet to make it easy for himself to pick up any one hoof. I spent a good half an hour, just picking up his feet repeatedly, helping him get some practice in shifting. By the end he was quite a bit improved with it.
We went for a short hack to celebrate.
We went out on a hack today with Sarah and Eddie. We went down the driveway and crossed the two-lane state highway that we live on. He was a little hesitant about stepping over the lines, but went down the ditch on the other side quite well. He flinched when cars went by, so he could use some more experience with traffic. He was fairly sensible about them, just a little scared. We went into the big soybean field and picked up a foxtrot. Eddie and Sarah left us to do some trot and canter work in the same field while we continued around the perimeter of the field. He was not worried about the other horse leaving or about going on ahead by himself. That was very nice. We found some new ground to ride which had some hills on it and some old buildings and he dealt with it all quite well. Very good day.
Missed a few rides in here, so an update. Auggie had a very small amount of blood on his nathe bit about 2 weeks ago, which of course was alarming and it made me remember that his vet had said, after his dental exam and float in December, that in about 3 months he should have a recheck. So I had her out to work on him and she said he was a little uneven, but not too bad. Regardless of all that I started riding him in a Micklem bitless bridle, using the bitless option. I had a little pause when I considered the brilliance of riding a horse who came in third in a grades stakes race in a bitless bridle, but I let that thought go, another leave on the river of unnecessary worry. So, yes, just leather on his head. He LOVED it. He was much softer over his topline and took a bigger step in his trot and canter. He also jumped in a much rounder manner. There are miles to go, but this was a very good step.
So today, I put him in the bitless bridle and went for a hack with Magee and Charlie. Auggie had been kind of a basket case on a recent ride with Magee and Eddie when he had a bit in, but he was much improved today. It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues and whether/when it will work to transition him back to a bridle. The only reason that would be necessary would be for dressage. He can compete all other phases of eventing or foxhunt without a bit, no worries. We’ll see what the horse says.
We got a mere 4″ of snow yesterday, so footing was great for a hack. He had been doing so well that I thought it was time for a solo hack. We set off and he walked beautifully, went away from the barn without a problem. We picked up a foxtrot and carried merrily along over the land bridge and in the next two fields. We turned for home and he wanted to increase the pace just a bit, but I asked him to settle and he did. He let out half a whinny a few times, but I let him know that wasn’t appropriate. I asked him to walk the last bit to home so that he doesn’t get in the habit of thinking that it is appropriate to steam on toward home. Very good.
We are supposed to get 8 inches of snow tomorrow and a lot of wind, and it was a pretty pleasant 26 today, so out we went on a hack with Sarah on Eddie and me on Shadow. After a bit of walking around in the arena, we stepped outside, at which point he saw fit to shy at the bit of ice/dirty snowbank a bit outside the door. Once I got him past that, he was brilliant the entire time on the hack. We went two and a half miles over hill and dale. He led the whole way, went willingly away from Eddie and Sarah when asked and we did a fair amount of foxtrotting about. He was clearly enjoying himself. He did trip a few times, but I attribute that to inexperience on the unlevel, frozen ground. He never tripped in walk, only when asked to foxtrot. I am pretty confident that will pass when he gets more experience or the footing improves.
A front had came through in the early afternoon and the wind was howling when I rode around 3 p.m., causing the curtains on the arena to flap and snap unpredictably. I tacked up Shadow and mounted up and put him through his paces, which went really quite well considering all the wind noise, which can really unnerve horses. He is steering much more easily and is able to maintain foxtrot pretty well, mostly maintaining his rhythm and balance and is able to correct his balance when asked. In fact, he went so well, that after I had him warmed up and had accomplished what I wanted for the day, I asked my working student to ride him, just to see how he would go with another rider. I shot some video while I was standing there. 🙂
One of the fundamentals of dressage is that a horse needs to stretch over his topline to the bit, not to be confused with bearing down on the bit. Today, at times, he started to forego the bracing and stretch over his topline. He also had his ears up most of the ride. My theory is that the gel pad and saddle change as well as helping him let go in his neck has made him more comfortable and therefore happier. We did a lot of walk work again and some spiral in and out on a circle and some canter transitions. On the right track.