Monday 7 December 2020

Weekend Warrior Style

A couple of weeks in, and I'm not loving this normal work week thing at all. How on earth did I manage it before? 

There really are times when I sure miss the days of full board and indoor riding arenas! And I would love a good lesson right now.

Current barn lighting situation at 4:30pm

But, to give the ponies their due, they were both excellent this weekend despite not being ridden since the previous Sunday.

Lucky girls did get some sunshine and a couple of days without blankets this week. We're paying for it today with a return of the winter rain and darkness.

On Saturday, I ended up using ever so safe Bridget as my transport to the arena and stupid boots rubbed a huge hole in my heel again so I was extra grateful that I can just hop on my portable couch bareback to get wherever I need to go. Sophie got the proper ride in the arena, while Bridget had a nap at the rail. She's hilarious.

Hi Bridget.

The following day I discovered last minute was farrier day, so unfortunately we didn't get our trail expedition as I worried their feet would be a little tender for that immediately post trim. (I have ordered front boots, though so fingers crossed we'll be good to go in the future.) We instead went to the arena for the second day in a row and I had plans of letting Bridget have fun trot around a little pole course. She loves jumping but I've only just added a little canter back in to her life so trot poles are the best I can do. Sadly, she was lame at trot and while my logical self knows it felt like she was just footsore, my emotional self is worried she played too hard in the round pen or in the field and is broken again.

Because there were some Bridget shenanigans this week.

ANYWAY. Sophie.

Sophie seemed really sane this weekend (for her), so I hopped on without longeing (living on the edge, T, LOL) and had pretty boring rides.

Lots and lots of walk/trot transitions with an emphasis on just fine tuning the baby horse stuff. Halt-Walk-Halt transitions are pretty much off my seat now, which is cool. Trot is way, way better but still there's that moment of hesitation like she's thinking about being sticky, sometimes a grumpy face. Once she's in trot that goes away and it's more like she's dragging you around, so again I felt like transitions were the answer to getting her softer. I've been adding in spirals as well, which I'm also finding helpful in the transitions. Someone at some point had me thinking leg yield for transitions for the young horses - not literally, of course, but the idea is to keep that bit of bend and roundness through the transition where my horses, at least, often want to brace. My short term plan is to also set us up take advantage of my very favorite baby canter exercise - leg yield at trot on the long side to the wall before the corner and canter. I need to book the indoor so I can have a wall to help me, but I think it might be a big help with canter leads/transitions for her. Our outdoor is so huge it's easy to kind of get lost and wobble around everywhere.

I've had setting up a different pole course to give us some straightness cues on my to do list forever. 

I've been extra vigilant on the longe, insisting her transitions are sharper than I had been. I'm almost feeling like she didn't really understand the connection with my leg and forward - I mean, she understood the basics, but she's a mare and the 'why should I?' --> 'you've insulted me, so just try to make me' happens very quickly. The whole 'ask, ask, tell' thing was escalating by the second ask. So, a step back, with a verbal cue as I would on the longe, along with the most polite reminder with my leg and off we go. I'm also trying to be more conscious of keeping my leg wrapped around her a little more so it's just there always and not so 'insulting' :)

Is cute, is also easily insulted.

Ideas for things to work on this week (and the next, and the next, probably ;):

-I've sacrificed the up transitions a little by just being happy with a reasonably immediate forward response. I know I should be focusing on keeping them really straight and balanced every time too.

-She's reverted back to being not so great to bridle. Not dangerously terrible, but I think if any of you have had a horse that's a bit difficult you know it's a little bit of a self fulfilling prophecy...they swing or lift their head suddenly and then you've hit their teeth and now it's a 'thing' again for a while. I need to take a time out to get that back to a better place - she's easy to halter and she's very polite taking her bridle off so I think it's just going to take a little time.

- Book the indoor arena and 'cheat' a little with the walls to help clarify canter departs and leg yield.

- Easy to say, hard to do, but just be more confident in my riding. We're doing just fine. We're not perfect, and that's OK.



  1. I'm impressed that you set out all those poles, I usually quit after about 5 :p

    1. Oh, they were already out! One of my riding friends sets new grids and courses almost every Saturday, and I just move them around a little for my purposes when I'm ambitious :)

  2. Oh man, the darkness this time of year is hard.... Sounds like you are doing great on the weekends though!

    1. I'm really struggling with it again this year, but we'll make it through!

  3. I am struggling with the darkness too. I can feel winter closing in and I don't like it. I am glad that the girls are doing well. Poor Sophie being bossed around like that. :)

    1. It's a funny dynamic, she's quite assertive and confident and opinionated so was the boss of the other horses at the last barn. In any predictable world, she'd be the boss of Bridget too. She's not though, she's the bottom of the totem pole here - Bridget has claimed this territory! I think she's struggling with that (and grown up mare hormones) and some days the testing of horses and humans is very persistent and she's ready to fight for it. Poor (annoying) Sophie!

  4. Sounds like you have a good plan and Sophie is coming along. Longer days are coming!

  5. Ugh yeah bridling woes..... Dante is soooo much better than Ramone, but any little problem (lease lady static zapped him while bridling last weekend) and I'm back to bribery to get him to lower his head and open his mouth.