Back home again! Unfortunately I can only stay home a couple days before heading out to work for a couple of weeks. I have finally come to the realization that I may not get in as much time with my horses this winter as I had anticipated or hoped for. Right now I am trying to cater to my new employers a little - gotta pay the bills.
Missy got in a good, albeit short, session today in the rope hackamore and western saddle; she worked pretty well, especially after some initial work. I was really assertive with her today, despite people being in the arena (lol), which made all the difference! She had impulsion, some balance even, a good walk, and a good stop on her. I will probably ride her english tomorrow (the A/P fits her better), though I'm not sure whether to put her in the hackamore or the cradle bit. We'll see :)
One of the boarders permitted me to ride her mare (she wanted another opinion on how the mare was riding), who is a lot like Silver. She was brilliant to ride though and it was so nice to ride a finished horse! I get so used to riding all these greenies that it is just a real treat to ride something at a higher level, lol. This mare was about the same level as Silver, though she's had some real reining training, so she was definitely better in those areas (stop, quick back, spins, etc). I think I could bring Silver up to that level, which is kind of exciting...one day! For now, I'll work on bringing Cody on up to that level, time permitting :)
Next, Link and I had our dressage lesson; he did very well! I started him off with some liberty work (a little rough, he wasn't quite focused on me but he was starting to get there at the end) in the roundpen as well as his 7 games, at which he obviously did great (got to move him back up into the patterns again and get us progressing there!). He was quite calm and relaxed, though I didn't get much warm-up time prior to the lesson. He had a lot more rhythm in his trot today and was rounding up sooner. We didn't do any collection or lateral work, but K had me do some exercises and work on Link's canter (which is much like how his trot used to be - very rushed). We had trouble picking up the right lead, so I had to remember to position my shoulder and hips correctly (inside hip and shoulders ahead), as well as to sit back!! I know I do this a lot, but initially without realising it; today it really sunk in that I've been doing this for awhile, as I reflected back, when K pointed out that I sit forward when asking for the transition. Say on Silver or something I wouldn't, or even Koolaid. Not good, because then you make it more difficult for the horse to lift its front end and pick up a balanced canter on the correct lead. Anyway, no worries, but it is something I will keep in mind now :) She had me sit back more while still staying light, and Link and I eventually worked out the canter in both directions, on the correct leads - fantastilicious. We also worked on my sitting trot, which can be quite messy (eep!). I can keep it pretty good in a western saddle, but english is somewhat different because you're trying to sit back and deep while still keeping your legs back and the rest of your equitation in order... and in this case, on a tight-backed horse. I can do it easily once I get a horse balanced, in rhythm, and engaging from behind, but soon as they hollow, my sitting trot goes to shit. Plus I like to be as light on a hollow/young horse's back anyways, so I have never really worked on my sitting trot. But, now I obviously have to, lol. Link and I figured it out pretty good though by the end of the lesson, though of course I still need more work, particularly when he is hollow. I need to get some weight on the guy though! He has lost all the weight, maybe even more, that I had put on him while he was with me on the ranch. Winter blanket (to prevent shivering), beat pulp mashes daily whenever I am home, and a roundbale in his pasture are all in order. Hopefully he keeps some okay weight this winter; I am growing weary already of having to deal with such a hard keeper, but obviously it is worth it :) The best part of my day, besides a great lesson? Walking into the barn later, after working Cody, to see Link's head pop over the stall door and whinny at me several times :)
Cody was next up and while he still did great, we were not quite as great as some of our last sessions - this time though we were unable to do any liberty work in the roundpen (too dark), which I think was the reason for the difference. We did do our 7 games though, at which he was fabulous, even transitioning down from a trot in the circling game when I so much as relaxed my body (I never had to even lift the stick to direct him to slow)!!! He's so perceptive - I love it! Under-saddle though he was a little less willing to trust me; he started off by moving out immediately as soon as I swung my leg over, with a strong desire to really move his feet. At first I did let him trot out, which seemed to help him a little, but it still didn't get him relaxed and trusting in me like I wanted of him. Shortly thereafter I ended up taking the bridle off and just working him in his rope halter under-saddle, to work on the basics. I knew I should be working in the rope hackamore, but I had gotten a little greedy because he was so good, lol. He's got a lot of intermediate skills and so I was skating a bit on that, but he needs to build up more of a solid foundation yet before moving on to the bit, especially since he does like such a droop in the rein. So, today we worked a little on transitions and stops, but mostly on our three-part maneuver (turn on the hind/fore, bend to a stop), sidepass, and leg aids. All the basic stuff. He did well, but not as excellent as previous sessions, so I decided to finally just end on a good note. I just couldn't get him to really relax and trust me, which was really hampering us. I did, however do a little carrot stick riding and got a couple really good spins out of him! So it's in there, lol, I just have to work on developing it. He was pretty nervous about my riding with that carrot stick but I feel he did alright...all the work we have been doing is really paying off, as he is developing more curiosity. I hate when curiosity has been beaten out of a horse - he's scared to check things out because he is terrified of the consequences of doing so, and it can be a little difficult to re-teach a horse to be curious, especially an introvert like Cody. Slowly though he does seem to be becoming a little more extroverted, which is great to see :) Last note before I take off for bed is that I also had Cody leading by his mane, forelock, front and hind legs, and tail again ;) We also did some extensions of the circling game, including transitions (as previously mentioned), changes in direction, and traveling circle - all of which he caught on rather quickly. Now just to get him started on those patterns...
I will hopefully have the chance to post here tomorrow after another session with the boys (provided I am not having to travel up to work tomorrow evening and/no have no internet access up there), but if not, see ya in two weeks!