Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nina's Big Day...

Today was the first day I was able to get out and play with Nina since I made the agreement to train her in exchange for dressage lessons. We had a big day! I started with the 22' and went through all the 7 games. We also played with the figure 8 from the ground (which she thought was entirely bizarre!). Her sideways has improved and her circle game is getting better each time. She seemed to get excited on the circle in the faster gaits and she'd go straight up. She has amazing athletic ability. After a while, I let her off line in the arena and she ran, and ran, and ran, and ran... Then, she'd come barreling back over to me and stand there (sometimes a little too darn close!). She's learning about my bubble and having more respect for the humans in her life. Otherwise, she's simply a fun-loving, smart, athletic and willing horse. I really enjoy playing with her.

I then took some time to groom her, touch up her feet and leave her tied for a bit. She ties just fine and never once has gotten worried or claustrophobic. Then, I moved my endurance saddle to the round pen and took her in. It's time for her to wear a saddle and today was as good a day as any.

I spent time introducing her to the idea of me throwing the pad over her, up her neck, over her haunches. She thought she should move some of the time, but mostly, she wasn't too concerned. She spent a bunch of time checking the pad out, pawing at it, just generally messing with it. She was confident and not worried. I led her around a bit with it on and wanted it to drop off to see how she felt. Again, a confident girl without much concern. I got the saddle on her next. She thought to move her feet a little, but generally she was calm. I cinched it up just enough to hold it on her back and asked her to play some circle game with me.

And then, WHOOEEEE! Bucky buckaroo! It lasted for maybe 25 seconds - which seems like a long time when you're in a round pen with a wildly bucking horse. She settled down and realized she couldn't get it off and it wasn't going to kill her. I let her stand a bit, then asked for the other direction. Nothing - she just went on the circle in the other direction and didn't waste any time bucking. She was calm and ok with it. She probably wore it for 5 mins and got calm and quiet and then I took it off and we left the round pen.

It was a highly successful first day with the saddle. I'm proud of her - she did great!

Then, I got Cowboy out for some work. The day was getting later and I was trying to decide if I thought I'd have time to ride him. I decided to do it tomorrow when I have more time. Instead, we went to the arena on the 22 to see where we left our last session. See, if we left it in a good spot today would be better. If we left in a bad place, he'd have more issue with going back to the arena for more.

He was calm, easy and did it all with ease. He understands the figure 8 online now and did that fine. His sideways is much, much improved and his send and allow on the circle game are way better. He cantered online without any fuss, which made me think that the other day he must have been scared or worried. I'm not sure, but today he was a solid level 2 horse and ready to learn more. I didn't spend a lot of time with him, maybe 40 mins. I groomed him, checked his feet (he needs a trim) and let him hang out. He was just an easy going horse today - no displacement behavior and no worries. Good boy!

Then, Rain was staring at me so intently that I decided to just spend a little time with her. I quickly tacked her up in my english saddle and decided to practice my new dressage techniques on Rain. She's a good horse for me to practice on because I so trust her. We went to my front pasture and I focused on following her body, feeling of her feet placement and being with her movement the best I could. She was gaiting beautifully, so I couldn't practice the trot. I was appreciative of her wonderful 4-beating. I noticed, however, that she was super sensitive to me and I wanted her to be more relaxed. So, after about 20 mins, I took her into the arena.

She was really looking to move out and I truly think she was trying to please me. I wanted her to settle down, which she did. Then, we played the corners game at the walk. I'm quite sure she was wondering what the heck had gotten into me today. I tacked her up with an english saddle, put her in the snaffle bit (vs the rope hack) and asked her for arena exercises. She was a great girl and I really enjoyed getting her out for that type of practice. Normally, she's my steady-eddy horse for ponying others or taking my kids down the trail. She's a highly functional and useful horse.

I love my life.

Nina - 2 hours
Cowboy - 40 mins
Rain - 1 hour

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