Sunday, October 18, 2009

Play day with the Parelli girls!

Had a fantastic day with friends and horses from 11:30am until 7pm!

I started off with Gem, just wanting to do some ground work and get him moving. He was excited with all the horses around and even reared a few times during COD on the circle. I thought about riding him and spending the day with him, but I really wanted to be with Z after giving her the week off for her hind leg injury. I really, really want to finish L3 freestyle, so I put Gem back and asked Z to come play.

Jen played with Rio in the beginning, too. She was curious how he'd feel to her and what I thought of him versus how she'd think of him. She did very well with him but could feel the "buzz" he gives off. He's an extrovert for sure and probably a RBE innately. He's a very cute little horse and Kendall is dying to ride him. I'll let her this week.

I realized when I switched horses that everyone was warmed up and ready to go! I was not and I tacked Z up quickly and played on the ground very briefly. She ended up in a "bad mood", pinning her ears a lot. She was listening and doing what I asked, but not happily. I tried to stop and help her get "in the game" several times. She was slowly improving, but I realized I should have warmed up stronger so I could ride softer. She wasn't off, which was good. She was just feeling annoyed and let me know often.

We did patterns first and even Kendall wanted to join us. She rode Rain and tried the patterns a few times. We partnered up and we all took turns going through the patterns mirroring each other and trying to stay in synch. We did some "follow the leader", but that didn't go so great as we didn't do a good job of staying in a line and following what the leader did. At one point, Chrissy was trying to hold Cowboy back and he got insistent and got his head low. I believe he's reaching to get more reins as Chrissy's learning to ride with a casual rein, but sometimes holds pretty tightly. Jen and Amy thought he was ready to buck - I didn't think so, but still, Chrissy needs to be safe.

She asked me to ride him and I did. I checked his flexion, then rode him in some large circles at the trot and canter. He was doing pretty good for me, so eventually Chrissy decided to get back on.

We moved to drill team and tried to synchronize going forward, backward, sideways, and swinging the gate. We didn't look too good, but we were having a great time!

Christy and I went through the 8 bends and Z did a good job of demonstrating for me. She's learning to yield the hind in fore however I ask, with her head in all positions (bent into the turn, straight and bent opposite of the turn). That's pretty cool! Amy and I played with sideways some and I tried to do some sideways on Cowboy. He's pretty bracey, but he was picking up what I was asking. Another couple sessions and he'd be great.

At one point, I grabbed my dragging obstacle (a wood step thingy) and the other horses and riders followed. Cowboy and Lynx showed off their "cowy" nature! They were both ready to herd that obstacle and show it who's boss! That was very cool to watch. Amy took a turn dragging it and helping Molly gain some confidence about this moving wood thing.

Jen practiced trot/canter transitions on Lynx and looked really confident and strong! Jen and Lynx have made great strides this year and they're looking beautiful together. Amy rode the whole day bareback - way to go Amy! Christy showed off her stick riding skills in the patterns and her calm Thoroughbred. Christy and Bently have a very nice relationship - he's a big boy, too! Kendall didn't last too long out there with the horse-crazy big girls. She was pretty bored pretty quickly, so we lost her early on. Chrissy stayed out pretty much the whole time and I imagine she was feeling pretty good after not riding her horse for several weeks while rebuilding her confidence after a horse accident.

About 4:30p, Jen and Amy started to head out and Chrissy, Christy and I decided to hit the trail. Chrissy wanted to ride Rain so she tacked her up and off we went. Before we left, Christy and I played with the teeter totter and the pedestal obstacles. I jumped the barrels with Z a few times, too. I can remember when I was afraid to do that!

Z led the whole way on the trail, which was good for Z - she likes to lead the trail. Chrissy was doing nicely on Rain, too. She's learning to give Rain more freedom with the reins and I imagine it's tough for them both as I ride Rain bridleless for the most part. I ride her in a rope hack, but I rarely use the reins as I'm often ponying 1 or 2 horses and use my hands for the lead ropes. Rain and I have a language and it's probably tough for Rain and a new rider to figure things out together.

At one point, we met another group of riders who had a pretty aggressive German Shepherd. Their dog came at Deuce and the two of them started to fight. Oscar then jumped in so we had a 3 dog scrapple. Of course, our dogs weren't listening to us anymore and I decided to ride Z right into the middle of the dog fight to break it up. Z was so amazing - she ran right in and broke up the dog fight with me! She didn't hesitate or ask a question - she just did it! It was a great moment for us. I was very proud of her.

At one point, there was a short but pretty steep downhill and Rain hustled down. I'm not sure if Chrissy had her head tight or maybe Chrissy's body was tight, but at the bottom Rain crow-hopped on the fore and Chrissy went off. Dang it!! She was ok, a sore elbow, but basically ok. Christy and I tried to make light of it, but I know Chrissy was feeling her confidence falter. I felt so bad for her and tried to remind her, each fall makes up her experience. Experience is what makes us good with horses. We don't want to fall off, but sometimes we do. It teaches us and helps us develop our seat. We keep riding because we love it and we want to conquer our fears and master our horsemanship. I hope Chrissy won't stay off a horse's back for long, but she's going to have to learn to relax in the saddle. I'm thinking PPL in the arena for a month or two could work wonders.

We encountered the people again with the aggressive dog and Z and I took off ahead to get my dogs away from their dogs. We went about 50 yards ahead, not far, but Chrissy was fighting with Rain who wanted to come with Z and I. She hopped off (good girl!) and once things settled got back on. When she got back on, she felt like she and Rain just weren't partnered. They just couldn't get it together - Rain had her own ideas about what to do and Chrissy was struggling to figure out how to take the leadership back. She hopped off and decided to walk. Christy and I headed back - I rode Rain and ponied Z. It wasn't far for Chrissy to walk - maybe 1/2 mile before she could get a ride home the rest of the way. Not a great way to end her day, but she'd had a ton of break-throughs and I hope she sees the good absolutely outweighed the bad on this day.

Christy had a long drive home and so we said our goodbyes. She'd had a great trail ride, maintaining a good partnership with her horse the whole day and feeling confident on the trail. I was just glad to have these great horse women share a gorgeous fall day with me and my horse. I spend a lot of time alone with horses and I love the camaraderie and feedback from a group. It was just fantastic.

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