Monday, November 8, 2010

The Wonder of the Warmup

I am very glad to report that Buckshot has been much better during our last three rides. I have religiously been warming him up at the walk for twenty minutes, and I have seen an improvement. He has had better energy during our rides, he hasn’t been off, he has greatly reduced the times he has just stopped after an exercise, and when I ask for the trot he generally has gone immediately into a trot. I think the warmup has been very beneficial to him. I guess it really is essential to him at this point in his life. I am glad to see these improvements.

Yesterday, we not only had a good ride, it was at a new location. Several people from our barn trailered four horses, including Buckshot, to the reining trainer’s farm for a clinic. It was the first time I have ever trailered Buckshot anywhere (other than to bring him to his current farm home). When we arrived, after about an hour drive, he was a bit nervous about being in a new location. He looked around quite a bit, snorted a bit, wanted to walk, didn’t want to eat grass. I walked him around and after a few moments, I thought it would help if I gave him more direction as well, so I walked him in small patterns, asking for a turn or a circle.

After a few minutes, we tacked up and I walked him over to the outdoor arena. We walked on the dirt/sand for a few minutes and I tightened the girth. He wasn’t agitated, just nervous and needing to move more than normal. After tightening the girth, I gave him a cluck and a mint (our version of clicker training), then I moved him to the mounting block and mounted. I started walking him around the arena. More horses were coming into the arena and beginning to walk and trot around the arena. After just a few minutes of walking, Buckshot’s nervousness seemed to dissipate and we walked for twenty minutes. Then I asked for a trot, and it was instantaneous, and energetic. During the clinic, we did several exercises at the trot and canter, and wow! What cantering! He was far more energetic than he has been for the last few weeks. My ability to keep my seat in synch with him wasn’t as good as it could be, since we haven’t cantered much in recent weeks. But I was very excited to just be cantering again, and several times I put both reins in one hand, and pushed against the horn with the other and continued to canter for a longer period of time. (Sometimes when my seat isn’t making the right contact, I will hold onto the horn, not really hold on, but push against it, to help me lean further back, so my seat contact is better). It isn’t as good as riding with the reins in both hands and working on my seat, but sometimes I just do it if I just cannot seem to get my butt to do the right thing. Buckshot has a big, powerful canter so it takes work to have a good seat on him. I had been getting better, but the past few weeks, we haven’t done a lot of cantering. So yesterday it felt wonderful to feel Buckshot’s energy and enthusiasm, and to feel a speedy trotting and a powerful canter from him!

The footing in the arena was perfect and it was a nice, very, very big arena. Buckshot seemed happy to be there and be doing a lot of work. The clinic lasted for just over an hour,after which we dismounted and grazed the horses, then prepared to load them into the trailer and bring them home.

The BO told me later that Buckshot’s initial nervousness, which I would say he never lost totally while we were there, is normal when a horse goes to a new venue for the first time. She said they get used to the new location eventually. For Buckshot and I it was a wonderful day - with a lot of firsts for us, and most importantly, he did well, we did our full walking warm up, he wasn’t off, and rather, had plenty of energy (for the first time in several weeks). A great day! And, as you can tell, I am now fully committed to Buckshot having a full twenty minute warm up at the walk at every ride. Good boy, Buckshot!!

1 comment:

juliette said...

Good report! In this case it sounds like the thorough walking warmup helped calm Buckshot's nerves as well as loosen him up.