Monday, October 17, 2011

Lovely Times in Lovely October Weather

This past weekend (Oct. 14-16, 2011) I had three days of great times with Buckshot. I took off work on Friday and went out to the barn. It was a bit windy, but also sunny and mild. We had a good phase 1 walking warm up with Buckshot demonstrating some good energy. Then we did some trotting and cantering, also very nice. I asked the BO to watch me ride so she could observe Buckshot. She said that his gaits looked fine, with plenty of energy and no return of the discomfort Buckshot showed a week ago.

I continue to try and gain experience at the canter. I need a lot of saddle time, but have to temper my wishes with Buckshot’s needs and the conditions of weather and footing. I feel like I am improving, but at a very, very slow pace. I really have to be patient with this, but it is coming.

After our work in the arena, we rode with the BO and her horse down the farm road to the reining arena in the farm’s hay field. The arena itself was too soft to ride in so we instead rode in the hay field, verbally blocking off a section of the field that we would stay within. We rode for a good long time, at a nice working trot, with the breeze in my face, the breeze lifting Buckshot’s mane, the sun warming us both nicely, on a lovely October afternoon. It was a picture perfect ride! I tried a few canters and we did nicely at them. After this heavenly time in the field, with both horses enjoying the ride and behaving perfectly, we walked back down the road to the main arena and dismounted. The windy conditions prevented us from even going into the trail. I praised Buckshot and enjoyed the moments of pride and happiness and joy from such a wonderful horse and ride! What a great horse he is!

On Saturday, the day was much like Friday – sunny, mild, yet still windy. On Saturdays, the barn typically has a lot of riding students and classes. Buckshot and I participate in the 1:30 class, but I like to ride well in advance of the class, so we can do our warm up and work on a few things at the trot and canter.

After I got him tacked up, a class was in the main arena so I took him over to the round pen and mounted. Because the round pen is located next to two pastures, we often have an audience of horses watching us. I kept us at the walk and practiced both going around the pen, and walking across it in various formations to keep it interesting. When the main arena was empty, we walked over to it.

Another boarder asked to use the arena alone for a few minutes so Buckshot and I did some exploratory walking around various barns and grassy areas. He seems to really enjoy expanding his sights, slowly, not too fast, as we walk around. He’ll walk in one direction quite purposefully, and then stop, uncertain of what to do next. So I will immediately take the reins and lead him off in a different direction. In some areas we will trot, others we will stay at the walk.

Eventually, we returned to the arena and did more trotting, and also some cantering. When he has the left lead, he feels balanced and even to me. At the right lead, he feels much more slanted. It is hard to steer him when he has the right lead. I feel like I am pulling on him mouth quite strongly, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t know why the right lead feels so much different. Do you experience that as well? Do you use different aids for differing leads?

The class did some interesting patterns and we had fun. They were hard patterns, involving leading the horse around cones and to special markers, using trotting, cantering, stopping, backing, etc. Especially difficult was the final section- trotting down the long rail, after having done a bit of cantering. It is so hard to reduce the energy of the horse immediately after cantering. The instructor agreed that this part of the pattern was challenging. That is one of the reasons I like taking classes- I am more challenged by the instructor’s patterns and exercises than I would think, and they help me and Buckshot to grow and develop.

And the last day of my three day Buckshot weekend was wonderful – we went to a reining clinic and had a great time! From the moment I stepped into the stirrup and walked Buckshot out into the arena, Buckshot had an unusual energy and purpose. At our home barn, he will drag along at the beginning of our ride, and after some urging from me, will give a good working walk. At the reining clinic, however, he starts off right away with a good energetic walk. It is one of the reasons that I think he really likes going to the clinics. He also had such energy at the trot and canter I couldn’t believe it! He had so much vim and vigor I suspect he had been drinking gallons of V-8! We did great (for us) at the patterns and exercises the trainer had us do.

When the clinic was over, I dismounted, praised Buckshot and took him to some grass to graze. Then I walked him back to the trailer, tied him on the side, and proceeded to make a mess of untacking him. I couldn’t figure out how to get his bridle off, and attach the halter while the halter's lead line stayed tied to the trailer. Before I knew it, the bridle had fallen to the ground in front of Buckshot’s feet, he stepped on it and he had leather straps everywhich way. I internally was alarmed, hoping I could back him safely off of them before he realized it and panicked. As I struggled, he stepped on one of my feet, but I had to ignore it (except for getting him off my foot) until I got the straps and lead line and halter unraveled. Goodness, what a mess I made of it. I finally took the halter off of the trailer totally, and put the lead line around his neck for leverage. Then I got his bridle off, and the halter on. Boy- that is something I need more practice on! Then I got his saddle and pad off and we went off for a little grass. Later, we headed for home and I walked him back to his pasture with lots of praise and appreciation of his work!

I thoroughly enjoyed all three days with Buckshot and spending time with him, in his pasture when I loosened persimmons from the tree for him, or picking up poop, or just talking to him. And then riding him, he was in good form and didn’t have any problems. What a good horse he is! (And some recent photos are at the top, finally, some pictures!)

I want to thank the two bloggers who have recently given my blog the Lovely Blog Award- Arlene from Grey Horse Matters and Carol from Dressage Training Journal (both are fantastic blogs - see my links on the right). What an honor to receive this award. Thank you so much. I am working on doing the award steps – sharing seven things about myself personally and sharing some new blogs as well. Thank you again for your kindness!


Carol said...

What a wonderful three day weekend you had. Aren't Oct. weekends the best? Few flies, not hot, but not cold, gorgeous leaves... love it.
I love your pictures. Buckshot is such a pretty horse. His coloring and markings are truly striking.
Re harder to steer one way than the other at the canter - I find it harder to steer to the left unless we're really practicing a lot. I think most horses have an easier and harder side (the stiff and hollow sides you hear about?).
Glad to read about all of your great progress!

juliette said...

Hi! I have an award for you over at my blog. Please don't feel like you have to redo if you already got this award - I was late getting to it!