Those moments when you feel like you can ride
When I went out to the barn last night, it was spitting rain—you know, that sort of rain that can’t decide if it actually wants to be a sustained rain or taper off into a drizzle, so it just spits on all your plans either way.
Since there was no lightening, I tacked Ro up and we rode anyway.
You can guess how happy she was about that.
Coming out of the barn, she spooked at some steps she has walked past dozens of times, doing the snorty ‘Make one move, buster, and I’ll kick your head in” thing.
You go, girl, Make those wooden stairs shake right down to their cold, concrete foundation hearts!
After a discussion about standing at the mounting block (yes, we can), I started off with our normal walk warmup. Usually, even when she comes out bouncing off the walls, she settles after ten minutes of walking or so. And I use those ten minutes to shake off work and adjust mentally to riding. Also physically, as I shift from slouching slob to less slouching hunter rider to, eventually, something approximating a dressage rider. Or so I like to tell myself.
Ro never did settle at the walk, so I decided to just go to work and settle her through work.
About the time she came to the party, someone shut a car door and she thought about spooking.
So more work.
She came to the party again, so I figured we would finish up with some canter work now that she was doing less Pepe Le Pew trot and more… wait, is that really the only cartoon character I can think of? A skunk? What a sad state of affairs for me. Anyway, she was moving more like a real horse and had let go of a lot of tension and was staying fairly straight most of the time. If we wait until everything is absolutely perfect to canter, we’ll never canter. But cantering from a Pepe Le Pew trot gets me a pogo stick canter. And while pogo sticks are fun and all, they aren’t that fun.
Anyway. So there we were, trotting a circle while I debated how to ask her for the canter. Our transitions suck, so we need a plan.
Finally, I settled on leg yielding in to the quarter line, canter, 15 meter circle.
I thought I ought to test the leg yield first, and for that I like an exercise introduced to me earlier this year—if you are going left, for example, leg yield from the corner to X, circle right 10 meters, ending back at X, circle left ten meters, ending back at X, then leg yield back to the rail. Basically, you’re just adding a figure eight to a standard leg yield in to X/back to the rail exercise, but it tells you a lot about your horse’s straightness and whether they are really on your aids (if they aren’t, the circles are uggggly—ask me how I know).
Ro started blowing through the bend in the circles, as she does, so I decided to forget the canter and focus on fixing that. She’s so out of shape right now that I knew we couldn’t do both.
After a couple run throughs we were seeing some improvement—at least she wasn’t free-wheeling around the circles like a skateboarder on crack.
Then the right leg yield/circle were ok, but not great, the left circle was almost there, and the left leg yield—spot on. Straight, even, and powerful. One of our best leg yields, ever.
So we did it again, with the same result.
I hopped off immediately and called it a day. She gave me a look to see if this was for real or if I was hopping back on (I do, sometimes), then rubbed her muddy green foamy mouth all over my shoulder.
Note to self: no more molasses-based treats while tacking up.
But other than that, a good end to the ride.
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