Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dressage saddles and grumpy mares

I started off my equine day with Sonny (mom's Thoroughbred), trying out a new (used) dressage saddle I might possibly purchase. It seemed to fit Sonny really well, so hopefully it also fits Link ;)

I did all 7 games with Sonny prior to riding him, including some great sidepass, changes in direction, transitions, etc. He went really well, even keeping a little squeal under his breath rather than full-out playing - he seems to have a greater sense of maturity lately. It is not that I mind him playing here or there, he is certainly free to do so, however I want to see some sense of maturity as well! Lol. Under-saddle, he was phenomenal. He has not been ridden regularly in well over a month now, yet he rounded up under-saddle and went beautifully. He was quite responsive as well, though he had moments where he seemed to check to see if I meant what I was asking, if he really had to do it; when I continued to ask, he would resignedly do as I had requested. At one point, I asked him to do some leg yielding at the trot - no response. I figured maybe he didn't know how. But wait a minute, he can sidepass under-saddle, so it only follows he should pick up leg yield? I swear he knows lateral work... So I broke it down for him a little - try it at the walk. Suddenly I was getting some almost perfect leg yield. Later, we even got it at the trot - it was perfect, it was brilliant. I'm not sure yet whether or not he truly didn't understand my request at first and then picked it up in a moment of brilliance, or if he simply didn't want to do the leg yield and then decided to do it afterall. I'm voting for choice #2 - just the vibes he sent off to me, and how well he did the leg yields, made me think he'd known all along what I was asking and simply chose not to do it. Maturity. Something that hopefully becomes Sonny's close friend with time, hehe. He certainly demonstrated some great talent for dressage today, it's just motivating his mind that might prove to be difficult. He seemed to enjoy the patterns and such that we trotted though, as he became more responsive in some areas with them. He was still a little resistant yielding to the left in the end, but was overall pretty good with some great consecutive strides in either direction. His canter was good as well (nice and easy - fluid - to ride), though it needs a little slowing. While I didn't find him to be exactly leaning on my hands, I felt he was grabbing the bit a little too hard, so we'll work more on softening him (primarily by keeping my own hands soft as well) and lightening him further; he went nothing like his old racehorse self (leaning, uber heavy on the forehand), but was just a tad heavy, which is okay for now. He has inspired me though to take some dressage lessons for sure with him (as well as with Link)...which will make mom happy, as she had wanted me to get into dressage with him for both hers and his sake, plus he is the best horse right now, between my 4 and my parents' 1, to take higher in dressage.

I was pretty excited after Sonny but was sobered pretty quickly with Missy's performance later for the potential buyers who came to see her! Why is it that she never bucks with me, but whenever someone comes out to watch her, she has to pin her ears like she is the grumpiest horse alive, and even insists on throwing in a little buck at the trot??! Otherwise she did great, but her attitude was far from fabulous and she was not in tune with her rider(s) at all (so very little actual engagement as well). I think she's just intent on staying here with us rather than finding a new home!! Dammit mare!! On the other hand, people do have to understand that she is a green 5 year old with very limited work put on her so far, considering. She could show by next spring if someone put the time into her this winter, but she needs consistent work. Otherwise though, she did great with me beforehand, and possessed a happy attitude while I bathed her (tied, she never balked once and even cocked her hind leg and relaxed while I bathed her), tied her for awhile (no pulling back or such whatsoever), and clipped her (all four legs, bridlepath, head) for her first time ever (other than the leg at the vet's on Monday) - she never even so much as appeared to think about balking over the clippers. How is it that a mare can go from so content and quiet to so obviously grumpy, within the span of only a few minutes??! *sigh* She needs even more work, but I am not here to do it unfortunately, which is so frustrating. Tomorrow she will get another work, then a week off, then three days of work, then a week-and-a-couple-days off, then she can be worked regularly (hopefully, provided EMS work doesn't interfere). To add further to my grief, she refused to eat all her medicated feed *arg!!*. Ah well, what can one do. She's a great horse, but is just still very young and green in some areas (*ahem* like, work ethic, lol).

Tomorrow I am off (after working with Missy one last time) to be with the boys up north for another week! I will be back next Wednesday for three days down in the south here - home. Wish me luck, and I will return with plenty of posts for both blogs (both The Perfect Horse and Through the Eye of Equus), promise!

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