Sunday, March 4, 2012

February update

I was only home a week and a half last days off but here is what the horses and I were up to:

Link - 8yo Thoroughbred gelding
I fit in three consecutive rides on Link that included both flatwork and jumping - by Day 3 he was mighty tired by the end of his session! We focused quite a bit on our jumping versus flatwork, with the goal of attending a (green) hunter/jumper clinic at the end of April. On the flat, we continue to work on really softening the poll so he is truly and thoroughly relaxed and with a quiet mouth. This remains our primary challenge because this horse just has too much chaos going on in his head!! He has grown a lot louder in his mouth since I have been making increasing demands on him, so I anticipate with further conditioning and further time whereby I am consistent, persistent, and patient, he will come round. Over fences he was awesome! He gets his distances over the singles and is doing one-strides exceptionally well, up to about 2'9. Link is getting more and more consistent over the jumps each ride and (as hubby noted) I am getting increasingly confident with the fences too - booya! It is a struggle for me to sit back and just let Link do his job, but I am slowly getting there. I am looking forward to my next set of days off whereby we will focus primarily on the flatwork with a little work through grids. I just cannot get enough riding in on Link to show him at the end of this month and I have no idea what my work schedule is going to look like as we finish up our work out here, but I am still planning for the Red Deer Mane Event clinic!

Soraya - 5yo CWB mare
Given all the goings on's that accompany being home after working on the road, I only managed to get two rides on Soraya this set of days off. She was incredibly responsive under-saddle, is progressing in learning to move off the leg (ie, leg yields and being held on the track as we pass scary things), and is solid w/t and over small x-rails. Next set of days off my goal is to work her at least once in the roundpen and to achieve canter in the arena. She is definitely ready to start being pushed forward forward forward. She seems to be very tuned in to me and is accepting of me now as leader but still needs a little polishing. Looks like I will have some time over April and all the month of May to work on both my horses and client horses so I anticipate we will be quite solid with the extra work and consistent schedule. I am very excited to take her out on a trail ride soon, maybe with Phoenix and hubby one day when the weather is clear :-D

Koolaid - 12yo WBx gelding
I rode my boy twice last I was home, once as an eval and the second time to put him through his paces for a prospective buyer. The eval was wonderful - after a sufficient warm-up he started to really engage from behind and to soften into my hand. It was a very lovely feeling and we achieved a lot of forward with some encouragement. Unfortunately I was too chicken-shit to try him over some jumps in front of other riders in the arena (yes, I have people issues, hah!) - next time! He was an incredibly lovely ride both times however - very responsive, sensitive, compliant, and just a joy to ride all-round. His gaits were soooo nice - he offered the canter quite a few times as I pushed him into more forward trots and a few times I actually let him continue for a few strides, the canter was just so nice! It was like riding a rocking chair. So refreshing and such a pleasure to ride! I remember though why I have not seen him in so long - one hour each way *groan*. Who has 4 hours or more to spare out of their day to ride ONE horse??!

Skittles - yearling QH filly
Day 1 of our 3 sessions last time I was home Skittles received an A+ on everything except lifting her hinds - she was so persistent in fact that she decided kicking me was a good option. Nuh uh. We soon put a stop to that, courtesy of the end of my rope. After that she was very compliant with her hinds for the following sessions. Even clipping she lowered her head politely for her bridlepath to be clipped, and she stepped right into the trailer and positioned herself on an angle when I asked her to load Day 3. The bad news however is that while I have been at work she has been a little bit of a brat - she lunged at both her owner and owner's SO. For a treat. I am concerned at her constantly testing boundaries and her persistent in her challenges, despite all the work we have put into her. Unfortunately I do not think the herd really draws the line with her sufficiently either. In fact, recently I observed that one of the mares even seemed to protect Skittles after Skittles so kindly viciously and repeatedly attacked one of the very quiet geldings she is pastured with. Hopefully if we keep at it we can nip this in the bud before she becomes bigger and stronger. In the mean time, her owner is being even more diligent by keeping Skittles on a lead so she can maintain control (she was loose at the time she lunged).

Kismet - 5yo draft x
I just realized I somehow keep forgetting Kismet in my posts!! I should be ashamed!! Each time I have been home the past several months (since I blogged in October, including every time I have been home and have blogged about riding my own horses and working with Skittles), I have ridden her 3 times (3 times each set of days off). Days off before this last set we were restricted to riding in the arena two of our sessions due to very high winds however this last set of days off we rode out I think twice. She has been progressing nicely in that she is becoming increasingly relaxed and a lot more forward as her confidence increases. She has grown a lot more comfortable with the whole u/s process and is really starting to loosen up; she is good now despite any weight shifts and most flapping of my arms and coat when I am up in the saddle. Her increase in confidence, relaxation, forward, and extrovertedness is showing not only showing at the walk but also the trot (in a very forward, flowing trot) and the canter (in a lengthened frame, snorting out as she canters, etc). At the trot she also has some very nice leg yields now and she has become sufficiently balanced and relaxed now to hold the canter for several laps of the arena, in a (mostly) balanced manner. No little hops in the canter either, a result of her increased relaxation!! I noticed one session when we were forced to stay in the arena that arena work really seemed to benefit her and aid her in relaxing so now, prior to our trail rides, we work in the arena. If the weather is nice we enjoy a good ride in the fields afterward. I have started having her wear a bit and bridle after our sessions too and am contemplating introducing the bit next I am home. Her owner has applied for the Jonathan Field clinics at the Mane Event and hopes to take Kismet so I am doing my best to prepare both of them for the endeavor - I think it could be a wonderful experience for both of them.

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to visit or ride Rayne. Silver and Pheonix continue to do well; Silver continues to be ridden in 4H by his youth rider. Hubby and I wanted to take Phoenix and another out for a trail ride but the weather just did not permit such, so maybe next time.

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