Disclaimer: This was written yesterday. Today I had to say goodbye to my wonderful friend and companion, my dog Gretchen. I will never forget the pure joy she brought to my life and how happy she always was with the simple pleasures of life. Be happy, sweet girl. Where you are now you can run and play all day and never grow tired or run out of land.
Written December 6, 2011:
Pop had some maintenance work done on Saturday, so he’s enjoying a blissful few days of vacation while I stay in shape riding a few of the other horses in the barn while the Boss takes a well-deserved vacation. So far we’ve had one very cast horse who miraculously freed himself with only superficial scrapes…praise the Lord…the way he was stuck (front hoof in between stall barrier, suspended from the beam by that one hoof) could’ve been a very ugly situation. Thank goodness he is okay and seemingly has forgotten all about the incident! Otherwise, things have been pretty carefree in the barn (knock on wood! hard!) and I’ve really enjoyed a little “down time” and more time in the saddle. Had a really good flat lesson with H today on Guppy…she really helped me with him and I managed to pin down why my sitting trot is so horrific…it’s because I unintentionally tense my hips and thus can’t move with the horse’s back. No wonder poor Pop got so against the bit in our last test! The problem is, I’m not totally sure how to mind over matter this one…the more I think about it, the more I tense. The less I think about it, the more I flop. Ugh. Going to really keep practicing that this week on different horses.
Learned a lot about saddle fit today with our equine chiropractor and Guppy. Turns out the saddle we thought fit him best actually is the worst fit for him because of where the flocking is. He’s got the HUGEST wither and shoulder and the pressure is actually on the withers which causes problems down into the ribcage and prevents him from A) using his shoulders and B) using his back. We tried a variety of saddle/pad combinations and the only one that didn’t make him pin his ears and snap was my old Kieffer and a foam flocked pad. Going to try that on him tomorrow to see if there’s a good improvement with the added weight of a rider. I knew the Kieffer was the best saddle on Earth *wink*
Sassy has been doing really well. I rode her twice last week and then again today. She is so kind and comes right up to me in the field and walks in quietly. I’ve been just trail riding her and working on a consistent forward gait and light contact with her mouth. She doesn’t get direct aids, she doesn’t get half halts, she doesn’t really understand forward without running in the trot, but she sure does try hard and she’s always listening. Today I worked her in the field (lots of terrain changes and distractions, but good for keeping her interested!) and I really felt good about the ride. She started out behind my leg and sticky but within minutes was taking me forward in a brisk trot and keeping even contact on the reins without getting quick or stuck or rushy or fussy in her mouth. She’s quite out of shape and we only rode about 15 minutes but we did canter both ways (me in a half seat, more of a hand gallop than anything to get her striding out) and then her trot improved immensely and we quit with that. She walked quietly back to the barn and was patient for grooming and turning out despite the two in the paddock next to her bucking and playing like hooligans.
She likes the happy mouth…she accepts it easily each time, and she’s learning that contact doesn’t mean fly backwards or play giraffe. I’m trying to just keep my hands still and keep the contact as steady as possible, and she truly is getting more and more comfortable with it each time. Today, no head tossing or arguments and she listened to an opening rein to turn rather than just going away from it and fighting with me. Good princess!Pop goes back into work tomorrow; I’m planning just a nice short hack but he’s also supposed to be shod so he may just get another day off depending on how the morning goes. I can’t wait to see how he feels!
Take care! Stay warm! (it’s been 70 for a couple of days and the cold is due to appear again tomorrow!)