Thursday, August 8, 2013

Monday and Tuesday - Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

Monday I was able to get the dog back to its owner to get in some riding. I was SO happy to be able to get to the barn as it's been a while! I grabbed Spyder and tacked up quickly. He was dirty compared to usual, but it's the norm for horses that aren't afraid of dirt. I hopped on and warmed up on the track since another person was grazing their horse in the jumping ring. I worked on moving off of leg and pushing into the bit to get a nice bend, and he was working hard on our circle. It was perfect until he saw other horses coming his way. He gets excited and has to look to see what's going on.
He walks to me when I go out in the field.
There were people going around the track for a trail ride so I walked with them to get the experience. He hasn't been around the track much, and the first time we tried to do it alone, he turned back for the barn and ran off towards it. I was SO happy that he was calm and relaxed. He's quite the follower and is so great with a group that he can trust. I wonder if they spooked if he would, but I'm glad we didn't have to try it. The jumping ring was free so we went in there to work on our trotting (even the sitting trot, ouch). The jumps were set really high so I worked on flat work and did the one small cross rail over and over again. We cantered a bit after the jump, and we headed back.

Nice part
I WANTED to end on that good note, but Spyder kept tossing his head when the other horses left and pulling towards directions he wanted to go. We worked on transitions, stopping, and standing still to make a point. Back to the basics it was until he decided to listen. Backing up was even too much to ask so heavy hands and lots of leaning until he got the point were not very fun with my lack of muscle from the time off. What I thought was a GREAT 40 minute ride ending up ending in an additional 20 minute cool down/listening session. Once we worked on our transitions, he was a lot quieter heading back to the barn. This was one of those rides that took a lot longer than it needed to, but it made me happy to know that we could work through something together. Even a bad ride has turned into a good ride for this reason.

On to Tuesday. I tacked up and warmed up around the barn to head out to the jumping ring. Spyder didn't want to move off my leg so we did some spiraling in and out to work on response time. The bend gets lost when he doesn't want to listen to leg so we have to work on getting that AND moving over at the same time. Since he decided to give up on fighting with me, we moved to cantering. We've got a new exercise to work on, and I must say I am very lucky to have a horse that doesn't want to move without the correct lead. We worked on a figure 8 starting to the left since he's better that way. The concept was to canter the one side of the 8, walk in the middle, then pick up the other lead when changing direction. Lead changes will be fun... not. But the cue is definitely working.

He was much cleaner and super shiny on Tuesday.
He did have an "incident" where he tripped or slipped... something happened. When you're on, you can't tell what he's doing. When he bucks, you can see him thinking about it and warming up to it if you're not looking up and ahead. My new way of riding (how I should have all along, is looking up and where I'm going.. haha) seems to help. Since he's a horse of habit, you have to work through the place on the circle or in the ring where he decides it's the "moment." He had that moment where it seemed like maybe he slipped, but then got mad and maybe tried to buck or he tried to buck, but then slipped.. and then hopped up. Whatever it was, it happened twice, and we worked through it. It ended the ride perfectly. Again, taking a good ride that turned bad back to good by making it a learning experience. I wish it was that easy to think that way in the beginning.

I do believe that we're getting somewhere. It might not be the best looking canter or the strongest, but it's becoming easier to control. We're getting a little bend, we're moving off of leg a tad, pacing is less, and we're getting a faster response time to the cue. I can hug his barrel with my legs and not get an instantly angry response. The tripping and breaking is less and his attitude better. I feel like I can sit back and enjoy the ride because I'm not as worried about what he's going to pull on me next. My seat and hands are better, and I'm sure that adds to enjoyment for both of us.
We walked back to the barn where it was feeding time. I put Spyder in his stall and was taking WAY too long to get his bucket of feed to him so he kept ramming his gate like a crazy horse. I have never seen him so impatient and it bothered me... a lot. This cooler weather should make life more interesting, for sure.
The other boarder cleaned up the tack room for us and it looks amazing!