Last weekend, with 10 hours of hauling, and 6 lessons actually made me a tiny bit tired. I skipped my Tuesday lesson with Lauren and just rode at home.
But…Sparkle has figured out the lead changes!!!! I honestly did not think she’d ever get them, we did too many years of too much counter canter, but, with some persistence, she has it! Now, they are not 100% perfect, and on Thursday morning, she was so funny. She is a serious over-achiever in life. Right before we quit on Monday morning at Richard’s, she gave me a really big change, with a buck behind. We praised the change and quit as it had been long enough working on those, and it was clean! Fast forward to the next time we worked on it, and she had a bit of buck, but again, it felt clean, so we stopped. Then Thursday, Andi was out to observe and say yes/no to the change being good, and so that was even better. I went through the warm up routine, lots of haunches in, haunches out, canter half pass to shoulder fore, half pass, pliee to center line, half pass back, and Sparkle started to anticipate. Somehow, the pliee seems to get her straight enough to change, and she tossed one in. I hadn’t asked, but we continued our school. I asked for one, and got the buck behind. Then, another, then she was silly and started to pop up her hind end every time I touched her with my leg. Andi and I were both laughing, but finally, the buck got so big that it nearly unseated me, so I had to curb her enthusiasm and set her straight that the buck was NOT what I was looking for, and we did some canter with leg on, a tiny bit of haunches in, and a small counter canter, and stopped. Saturday, had Suzy as a ground person, so tried one or two, again…the bucking behind and one HUUUUGGE buck, where I said “Unacceptable”. After that, Sparkle gave me one, quiet change, and we stopped. Today, I got one quiet change each direction, and so we will probably leave those alone for a few days. But, I am so happy that she has a change after all. I knew I’d made some mistakes along the way, and was prepared to accept that she would never get the changes, but huge thanks to Richard for working through that with me!
Bali, the changes are easy for her, so we haven’t been doing more than one or two each direction, I’ve been really focusing on the haunches in/out, shoulder in from seat, and working on getting better bend and haunches in and shoulder fore in canter. I’ve been trying to remember to sweep my legs forward in the down-stride of the canter for more forward, and reminding myself that I have a gallon of milk hanging off my outside elbow in a grocery bag and a bit of palsy in the inside hand to not get static. Of course, I’m probably going to go too far on everything, and will be fixing more again. Oh, tons of walk/trot transitions, keeping a soft jaw always. Not exactly exciting if you were a spectator. Today, Suzy rode her, since I was about to get on Tanq in Romeo’s dressage saddle, so I said “Ride Bali in her dressage saddle while I ride Tanq”. Suzy did well on her, and thinks all my FORWARD DAMMIT might be working. The canter looked good.
Tanq is at one of those stages where he is fantastic. Soft, supple, focused on what I want, his leg yield is lovely and he even gave me some steps of shoulder in a couple of times. I am working on tossing in first level elements in all his rides, and his canter is getting stronger and stronger. Now that he had dentist visit #3, all his head tossing is gone again, another reminder that horses want to get along, and most objections are pain/discomfort based. Especially when the horse is such a good egg. Also, I always am asked to ask more of the horses in lessons, which is why I take the lessons, but I need to sometimes step up as the rider and say “this is too much for him right now” because I think I should have done that in a couple of our jumping lessons on some of the things that were turning into ugly rides.
Romeo decided he needed more attention and put a hole in his head. Lovely, 2″ deep puncture going up the outside of his jaw. Luckily it was going up, so drainage was in his favor, and he is a decent patient. Flushing 1x a day, cow mastitis meds injected into the hole, and some bute for the swelling, and it is almost healed up on the inside. Still a lovely 1 1/4″ gash in the side of his jaw, but that will heal soon.
I need to get back to some jumping lessons soon and start getting Tanq and Bali to some local shows. Particularly Tanq. He needs more show mileage to appeal to buyers.