URO’s being Unidentified Running Objects. Or Animals, to be more accurate. Hehe. Something Aly tracked and chased down into the bush. We'll never know what. (and no, it wasn't a deer, lol)
Though I had tried it out on Sonny and felt great, I also tried out the “trial” saddle – a Don Rodrigo dressage saddle – on Link. He’s the reactive, high energy one, and he is the one who’s movement I am most used to, since I have been riding him a ton more than Sonny (so I would notice a difference in the saddle more with him). I was a little concerned that the seat is so slippery, and that I might lose my seat on Link as his feet tapped about beneath me when he’s excited. To my surprise, I didn’t loose my seat whatsoever (despite his dancing about), but actually felt like I had the best seat I have ever had (for dressage purposes, that is). Usually I have to post Link’s tense trot – it is not really possible to sit until he relaxes and starts engaging, which takes a lot of work. With the dressage saddle, I could sit both his trot and his canter much more easily. It was awesome – why have I not done this sooner!!?? I have ridden in all purpose saddles only for the most part, since I always jumped and just dabbled in dressage as flat work and part of Pony Club and lessons throughout the years. More proof that the right equipment makes all the difference!
In the Rodrigo, Link and I did circles, figure-8’s (took a bit, but he finally relaxed and did changes in direction without tensing and flipping his head), serpentines with circles at each change in direction, 10m circles down a centerline (need to set up some cones for better accuracy!), and 20m circles (again – cones!). By finish, he was still pretty reactive but was collecting consistently and for long periods of time (even down straightaways) – pretty great, especially considering how reactive he was feeling in the high winds and working out in the field!
Later, I took Cody out for an hour long cruise to the back of the property and down the creek. We meandered through the bush and along the banks, following the creek as it twisted and wound its way through the property – it was absolutely stunning and utterly breath-taking the entire way. Gold leaves spattered the grassy green banks littered with logs and trees the beavers have felled. Creek banks ranged from wide, broad openings to steep, towering rock cliffs. We followed paths through the bush and along the banks, making our own paths whenever necessary – rarely, because there were paths everywhere, including well-worn paths beaten down by the hooves and feet of the wildlife in the area. It was beautiful!! Do you know how crazy incredible it is to watch a good 4 or 5 beavers rush into the water and slap their tails at once?!! There has got to be a good dozen beavers or so on this property!! Aly, Cody, and I also stumbled on a porcupine (fortunately, Aly didn’t get any quills in her nose). Cody was great, though a bit rude a couple of times in the bush (continuing forward when I asked him to stop, or insisting on a path I didn’t want to take), though very polite in other areas (such as standing rock-solid when I mounted a million and a half times – I had to get off at times to lead him through the thick bush). I’m not sure what was up at the beginning of our ride though, as he even bucked a little going out, (just one little hop that I even doubted happened, it was that small, lol) and then again (a few in a row) when I asked him to canter!! It wasn’t a resistant buck or an I-want-to-go-home-now buck, it was more of a reactive buck. Once we were further from home, however, he relaxed mostly (he almost always holds some tension still, even if it doesn’t seem all that noticeable – I am starting to learn how he feels, etc, and therefore how to read and feel him better), to the point where he wasn’t arcing stiffly to the left and was comfortable trotting and cantering (no bucks whatsoever afterwards, though a little speed here and there – flight). I’m not sure if there was something going on around the house that little human me was oblivious to (the cattle grazing near the house spooked at something, Aly growled at something she perceived around the house, and Cody seemed hypersensitive around the house and didn’t relax his heightened alert until we were quite a ways from the house), or if it's just a matter of us still dealing with the “cracks” in Cody’s foundation (also very possible, given we’re still sorting out that foundation)…I guess only time will tell! I was pretty disappointed when he bucked, but then on the other hand, he’s apparently been through a lot, so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising...and he has progressed so so much. The type of buck he gave wasn’t too concerning either, it was pretty easy and he came out of it nicely. Once we eliminate all his fear issues, he is going to be one heck of a great horse…I just hope we can help him enough to make him safe for Dad to ride (Dad can't get hurt!), because he is an amazing, bomb-proof mount otherwise!!! Either way he won’t go anywhere, ever, he’s with us for life – but I’d really like Dad to have him.