Monday 30 March 2015

Peppermint Magic

We had a small surprise break in the weather yesterday afternoon. With another storm front moving in to wash away Monday and part of Tuesday, the intelligent thing to do was obviously to hop in the truck and get out to the barn for a ride.

I picked up a special order on the way - more of the horse crack  peppermint horse treats my two go absolutely crazy for. I've been trying to order them for months but for whatever reason the truck driver delivery guy seemed to always leave them behind at the distributor and just bring the big bags of grain. This sort of thing went on for so long the transport company eventually got fired, and a new company was hired to deliver the feed to our area. That's the power and importance of the peppermint treats, everyone - you don't get between them and the horses craving them!

Ginger and Bridget were suitably enthralled with my offerings, and smelt them before I even admitted to having them. I think it's safe to say we're all besties at the moment. Because they love me, obviously...the treats have nothing to do with it, right? ;)

I quickly tacked up Bridget and ventured out up the road. As with our ride on Thursday, I only had to ask for the trot and she happily obliged and maintained her own pace without nagging. Let's hope someone has finally learned I'm not going to babysit her forever.
My pony awaits. My  mounting block is also literally a block of wood lol

When we got to the ring, I spent a little bit of time getting her to bend properly, particularly on the right rein, She was a bit up and looky. I hate the looky part because that only leads to trouble, so we increased the difficulty and added in some serpentines and poles. Focus is a good thing for baby ponies!
Probably had to see, but someone left this pole set up and it was pretty handy.

Since pony was being quite good about looking after herself and keeping herself where I put her, I got the rare treat of being able to focus on my own riding and really tried to stay quiet and centered with my shoulders back and my core strong. I've developed a bad habit of 'helping' her by leaning all over the place, which isn't helpful at all! She's a smart girl, so lets hope she puts two and two together and realizes it's easier for everyone if she just does her job.

After a few minutes, I asked for a right lead canter depart and got it with minimal fuss, although she did have to scramble a little and get organized and broke to a trot before the corner after the long side.

Left lead was fabulous and we got not one, but two laps around the ring! After 7 months of riding and cantering this pony I should be embarrassed to be excited about that but I'm totally not. It's a small (20x40m) ring and baby pony is not the most balanced or athletic. Cantering those tight turns is a big win for her, and doing it twice around is a big breakthrough. She still leans and get rushy and breaks if I don't remind her to slow down and use her body in the corners, but for her to actually have the strength and balance to let me use my reminders is huge. I could literally feel her confidence increasing with every turn, and made sure to quit while we were ahead.

I went back to right rein canter and had a more muddled depart and the sucked back, head tossing of old. I went back to a 20m circle and got her balanced up and paid more attention to myself. She offered up a much nicer depart and with a little encouragement, did an entire lap of the ring. She finds one corner especially hard, so I was careful to set her up well for it and she made it through in canter for the first time ever. As a reward, I brought her back to walk then and there and called the day a huge success. I also told her how wonderful she is, of course. Perhaps the power of the peppermints still at work, but more likely months of work finally paying off in a measurable way!
'Yeah, I've got this"

I find it funny that it's always after some especially horrible rides that the small breakthroughs happen. Right when I really start doubting yourself, and am super low. I know part of it is just training and babies needing time and testing the limits and all that, but I think part of it is rider mental game else can I explain getting to the point where I almost don't even care anymore and am resigned to more months of strength building outside the ring, then 'magically' getting a decent canter out of the pony the next ride?

Just in case though, treats will be a pre-ride ritual from now on :)



  1. Woohooo!!!! So excited to read this update. Go Midge go!

    1. Seriously!! Get it, Midge! So proud of tight turns on a little horse. :D

  2. I think the bad ride/ good ride thing is more or less a mental game the horses play on us. Like good cop/ bad cop. I am convinced it is merely so we drone on with the easy stuff so they can have, 'I'm not in the mood days' and the work stays simple and not taxing. lol.

  3. yay!! i'll take a magical decent canter any day - even when i have no clue where it came from haha. (and i'm definitely not above bribing the horses lol). glad you had fun!