We had a great day yesterday here at the homestead. We spent a long time at the barn chasing the kitties (although we couldn’t find Skittles. He’s the smartest one of the group) and picking rocks while Willow got some outside time.
Shannon’s latest thing is to go down the barn aisle and point out the horses one by one, asking what their names are (I think, anyways). We go up and down about a million times while she asks “this?” at every stall. If the stall is empty, she throws her hands in the air in her way of saying “all done!”
I also set up a Facebook page for the blog! I figured not EVERYBODY on my personal Facebook wants to get constant blog updates, so give us a ‘like’ if you want to stay up to date on the goings on around here. 🙂
Anyways. Mike got home pretty early last night, and Willow was looking a bit wild eyed this afternoon when we tried to put her out, so I jetted off to the barn when he got home so that I could squeeze a good work in. And goodness did we have a good work!
I try to keep the lunging to a minimum, since the constant circling can be hard on their joints, but I spin her around twice a week. Once with side reins and once without. I supplement it with some ground driving and I purchased a great book on ground work off Amazon at the suggestion of a fellow COTHer. It was cooler out yesterday, so she was a little bit higher than her normal lazy self, which was perfect for what I planned on doing. Installing a “canter” button.
Here’s the thing, Willow has an amazing canter, however like most green horses, the transition is a mess. If you add the fact that she’s huge into the equation, running her into the gait just doesn’t work very well. She has this mind blowing extended trot that she’ll settle into and two strides later you’ve used up your long side. Then, because she’s got all that forward momentum going, it’s hard to down shift again. It’s all typical green horse stuff compounded by the fact that she’s 17.1. We got into it a little bit, but then my center of balance shifted, and it wasn’t fair to her to ask her to try to carry weebly-wobbly me AND weebly-wobbly her.
Last night I got her fully booted up, and we worked on kiss = canter. That mare is so bloody smart, I swear it’s kind of scary. It only took me asking her twice before she stopped trying to bust out a whopper of an extension and just hopped right into the canter. The second she picked the gait up, I gave her lots of praise and let her down shift again to a nice forward walk. Because it was cooler and she was a little bit more ‘up’, I didn’t have to chase her at all. It was just a matter of making the connection between the cue and the gait. As soon as it clicked with her, we were done. I hopped on her bareback (I know, I know) and worked on some leg yielding and stretching at the walk to bring her back down a little bit (cantering is EXCITING, didn’t you know). She had a shower, and I hand walked her out in the arena since she was still just a bit too steamy.
We’ll keep working on it, and once she can maintain the gait around the full circle I’ll add side reins into the mix. 🙂
I know that all this stuff seems like baby horse stuff, but with everything that has gone on in our lives since I was blessed with her a year ago (TOMORROW!!!!)… Lyme disease, the scarcoid surgery on her butt, a frustrating winter trying to get on the same page, abscess from h*ll, moving, second baby, moving again, and now not being able to ride… it makes me happy that we are still managing forward progress (by ourselves, too! No trainer here at this point) and that’s she’s turning into a horse that I can say that I’m really enjoying. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of horse ownership?
Okay. I’m done being sappy now! Shannon is down for a nap, and after riding yesterday, I’m off to take a nap myself before our grocery shopping adventures this afternoon!
And, I want to wish my amazingly beautiful Mom a HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! We can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!! Love you!