Friday, January 23, 2009

Have I mentioned lately that I love my pony?

The palomino in this picture is 45 years old. Yup, 45. I would be perfectly happy if Tiki lived to 45; the mare only looks about 25. Amazing, really. She's the oldest horse I've ever known personally. Sweet Rose was Tiki's babysitter back when he didn't know how to behave around other horses, didn't know how to graze, and just stood in the pasture and shook. It was her gentle guidance that helped him learn how to relax and be a HORSE. Oh, don't worry. She's fine. I just read this paragraph and realized it sort of sounds like a eulogy or something, but it's not.

So, due to mitigating circumstances, I have not ridden since Tuesday a week and 2 days ago. Today (Thursday), I was bound and determined to ride. I waited around until around noon to let it warm up as MUCH as possible, then drove out to the barn. He was out with his girls, and I had to lure him over with a peppermint as usual. I went to Atlanta Saddlery and got some new brushes for him, so I used those for the first time. One of them was hard enough that I will not usually use it; only when he's super dirty. The other is so soft, it is literally just a dust rag type brush. Upon tacking him, I led him down to the front pasture to ride. I had the longe line and whip with me because I was certain there would be some buckies.

I was right! Both directions, he leapt hugely in the air while simultaneously kicking out with all 4 feet. Very impressive! The galloped around a bit, and when he stopped, we reversed. Same thing, except the right lead gallop was done mostly either on the wrong lead, or at the cross canter. I really want him to get a chiro adjustment, but I seriously doubt one would come all the way out to our little barn in the boonies, and I don't yet have a trailer to haul him out to one myself. There is a girl that can do a massage on him, but I honestly don't think he would enjoy it; he is SO touchy and sensitive. She ran a finger down his side one day, and nearly earned herself a kick. Hopefully, circumstances will work out, and I will be able to get a trailer before too long.

Anyway, the interesting thing is even when he is hot as a firecracker, and GALLOPING around on the end of the longe, he does NOT drag me around. I barely even feel the pressure on the line ... it's very weird. Even when he's 4 feet above the ground, he's still not yanking on me at all. Anyway, once he settled down and stopped of his own accord, I took the line off, and hopped on. I walked down to the level end of the pasture in 2 point, then worked on some leg yields. He's really being extremely receptive to moving off my leg. I focused on maintaining a super soft hand, and pushed him with my inside leg into my outside rein. I'm resisting the urge to "see saw", since that does produce quick results, and instead, I'm working on feeling his back come up, his neck soften at the poll becaue he's accepting the contact of the bit, and his hind end be adjustable.

I won't lie. It's hard. The "level" end of the pasture is still very uneven. There's a good bit of rocks, the distraction of the road 10 feet away, and semi-soft and mushy footing still because of the freezing weather and tons of rain. I've never enjoyed riding in fields, and I still finish up sore and tired. The good news is I am so much more stable. He's tripping, drifting, and rushing, yet I'm still able to stay tall and soft and get him back under control. Today, he was GREAT. He was moving off my legs, doing baby leg yields, and filling my outside rein. At the trot, it was one of the most consistent ryhthms we've ever had. He wanted to speed up a LITTLE bit, but not bad at all. In fact, after about 25 minutes, I was having to kick him and use my hand behind my leg. NOW would have been the time to be wearing spurs, lol. I worked him in some figure 8's, concentrating super hard on pushing into my outside rein, and barely touching the inside rein. Once he felt balanced and straight, I asked for the right lead. He held it for about 5 strides, then swapped behind. I experimented with asking on a circle, and circling right only encourages the left lead. Worked left for a few minutes, actually cantering a circle. He fell apart a little bit because I was pushing it. Wanted to finish to the right, on a strong note, so as SOON as he got the right lead, I cantered until I heard the tail swish, then stopped before he could swap. We walked both ways around the pasture on the buckle and with no stirrups. He was an angel.

Cooled him out and put him back out with his girls. I love my pony! I plan to ride again tomorrow:)

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