Thursday, January 3, 2013

First ride of the New Year!

Looking a little alfalfa like with that silly mane!

Well, didn't go xc schooling today, but I did get to ride my boy:)  It rained ALL day on Tuesday ... like, it was raining when I woke up and it was raining when I went to bed.  Honestly, we can't complain about that, GA is so dry right now.  Makes for some miserable teaching/stall cleaning, but good for the footing!

Speaking of footing, it was picture perfect today.  Wet, soggy, and SOFT.  It was like a little slice of heaven as I swung a leg over Tiki's back; I always feel my tensions/worry just melt away as I wrap down and around and close my leg to go forward.  I love him so much, I feel SO blessed to have that little red headed muffin in my life.

I was watching the live feed of the GHM clinic in Wellington (find it here at, and of course I wanted to try what they were doing on Day 1.  It was all flat work, and involved shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, counter canter, and lifting your hands up to chest height to get your horse to stretch down into the contact.  Since I've been dying to ride in a simple loose ring snaffle, I put on his old happy mouth mullen loose ring that I retired 3 1/2 years ago.  It's literally been that long since I've used it!

Put it on the dressage bridle and headed up!  Tiki had his brat on a little bit, lol!  He pinned his ears at me and gave me "grumpy face" as I adjusted a line of cavalettis ... he can be a turd;)  I let him walk a good bit before shortening my reins because it was a yucky day; chilly, overcast, and windy.  After walking over cavs and poles and changing bend across a diagonal with my leg, I picked up the contact.  Longish reins, hands up around chest height, thumbs touching.  It was weird!  I've never ridden like that on purpose.  He was going forward very nicely; good marching rhythm with no hint of quickness.  I held the contact and didn't manipulate the bit in his mouth at all; just tried to leg up into the contact and let him flex at the poll by himself.

It didn't work any kind of miracles; he didn't fuss at all but he didn't magically come down into contact either.  I could feel a touch of tension in his neck and back, and he stayed pretty much NOT anywhere near a "frame" of any sort.  Decided to go ahead and pick up a trot since he can be slow coming into the contact anyway, and it did get slightly better but again, not magically 'on the bit'.  I just kept my leg on, alternated between tracking on the rail and on a 20m circle, and trotted poles on one side a cav line on the other.  Lots of back and forth and not staying the same.

After a good 15 minutes of this, I gave up and lowered my hands a fair amount.  I still had a nice bend in my elbow though ... I made sure to carry my hands a LITTLE higher than normal, and did the Gigi 'ask' for the 'frame' and THAT worked.  He finally flexed at the poll, reached down into the contact, and got swingier in the back.  I did the Paul counter-bend on a spiral exercise both ways, the GHM shoulder-fore down the longside, and the Susan leg yield back to the rail spiral out exercise.  He was game for all of them!  He was beginning to feel much more loose and happy, and he didn't touch a pole or cavaletti:)  At one point, all 4 feet came off the ground; it was like a geyser erupting, so weird!  Like I said, just a touch of brattiness today!

On the 20m circle before the canter, I did another Paul exercise; posting trot to 1 or 2 steps of walk, back to trot.  It went well, I was happy with him.  The canter felt super both ways; I SAT, kept my hands higher than normal, and pushed hard to keep his 'frame'.  I didn't do any cantering other than on a 20m circle since he'd only been ridden once in the 2 weeks prior.  Went back to trot and trotted the poles and cavs again, being SUPER vigilant about that subtle left bulge.  Kept contact with the left rein, slightly softened the right one, and made sure he was absolutely 100% straight.  Ended there.

The good news is I'm riding again tomorrow (in the dressage saddle), AND we're still going schooling:)  We'll head out Sunday morning to Calimar, hopefully to nicer weather and picture perfect footing.  Love my boy, glad he's getting a couple of days to work before just going out and running around the field jumping.

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