On Saturday, I had an extraordinarily good ride on Buckshot. The weather was nice, not too humid, sunny, with a nice breeze blowing through. Our warmup was good, with me directing Buckshot in new patterns, and him responding well. It felt so good to ride him. The riding class started and we did walking and trotting around the arena, then went through the woods on the trail.
At the other arena, we had a great time doing a pattern the instructor described. I spent some time rating the trot, from extended to working trot. We also worked on the canter, with me asking for about five strides at a time, and really focusing on it. Focusing hard on the aids for the canter departure, trying to include the elusive “softness” that would make our transitions light as a feather (not quite achieved yet). And focusing on steering the canter better. I changed up my reins, going to one handed reins, which Buckshot responded well to. In all, it felt like a wonderful ride, with Buckshot listening and responding and trying, and me trying hard on areas that need improvement. We just felt in synch. Not perfect, but in synch. A wonderful feeling. The kind you get just occasionally, but which reinforces how there is nothing better in the world than riding your horse.
On Sunday, we planned to go to our reining clinic. However, the BO was unexpectedly ill, so I went with the BOH. The reining trainer made guidemarks in the arena sand, with his golf cart, driving it around the arena so that the wheels left impressions, like road marks, to guide us in the pattern. So we worked hard on loping straight lines, staying inside the narrow tire marks, and doing rollbacks that were nice, tight, narrow turn arounds. Buckshot and I did pretty well, doing both trot and canter.
Then the trainer gave us a new tip, one of those weird things you don’t think you can do, but that the trainer knows the horse can do if the riders will just give it a try. He had us ride down the center line with our hands, and reins, stretched out to the side (a little wider than shoulder width). At the halfway mark, we had to put both reins in one hand, like neck reining. This made us somehow ride straighter lines although I’m not sure why. One rider suggested that with our hands out to the side, we were steering better with our legs and bodies. That’s possible. It’s also possible that it makes us think differently, and leave the steering more up to the horse. Either way, it was a surprising exercise and many of us said we have to practice that more at home.
That is one of the best benefits of having a trainer – they often suggest doing something unusual, that shows us what we are doing wrong, or how to trust the horse more, or how to try it differently with our horse. Something we would never think of on our own. This trainer has done this sort of thing a lot. I really have learned a lot from him.
Changing topics, I want to try and change Buckshot’s pro- and prebiotic supplement since the price of Fastrack has increased significantly. I have researched and purchased two others – one is called Forco Horse Supplement, from a horse center in Colorado. The other is from Valley Vet, called Command FT Probiotic. I’ve compared the ingredients, and wow is that a challenge. They have many of the same ingredients but it’s impossible to compare the exact quantity of the ingredients because they use different units of measure and different comparisons. They smell very similar to each other, and to Fastrack. The texture feels the same. I hope they are palatable to Buckshot. So we’ll see how they work.
Ah, the world of supplements. To me, it is a vast, confusing, impenetrable world of almost magical products (if you buy the marketing hype). Sometimes I don’t know how anyone ever chooses one! But I am optimistic that one of these will work for Buckshot as well as Fastrack, and maybe even better. I’ll let you know the results! Hope you had a wonderful weekend with your special horse!