Spring is here!

Last week’s lesson was fun and challenging. The most important exercise I learned was about flexion.

Exaggerated Flexion on a Circle

Instructor had me get Misty moving with lots of impulsion on a twenty metre circle. Then I had to take my inside hand all the way back to my hip to really bend Misty’s neck. Give with the outside rein enough for her to flex but without losing contact, and keep her on the circle with my inside leg. This proved… challenging. I kept letting her fall in. In between attempts I let her go straight and stretch out her neck with her nose near the ground. Instructor’s tips were to give the aid clearly, then let it happen. If I start nagging or fiddling, she’ll just put her head up and fall apart, so if that happens, go forward then start again. We did get a few awesome steps in each direction, which I was thrilled with. Misty is apparently quite a hard horse to get on the bridle. I look forward to trying this with Mr Bean next time I get to ride him, since I bet he’d be awesome at it.

*tweedle deedle time ripple to today’s lease day*

It was a gorgeous, sunny day today. 11 degrees and no wind. Somehow I was still the only one in the outdoor arena this morning. Misty was a brat at first and refused to walk up to the mounting block, then stopped repeatedly during warm up. After a couple minutes of arguing though we agreed that I was the leader. After some loose rein trotting and stretching, the canter warm up went great. Misty doesn’t even try to buck anymore. She offered right lead canter without too much trouble.

I worked on three exercises at the trot today. First we did circles with flexion like we learned in lesson last week. I had a bit of trouble judging how well we were actually completing the exercise, but it did feel a lot better than before. I was able to keep her on some semblance of a circle with my leg. In between bends I let her neck down, then switched direction. Next I tried for a bit of roundness. A few times I had to do a short canter transition to remind her to keep her feet moving. We did some figure eights so I could practice changing to my new inside leg and outside hand. I kept repeating to myself “hold the outside rein, keep it off her neck”. Finally I did a couple leg yeilds. Misty was unusually responsive and bendy by this point. The slightest movement from my hand and she flexed. I should try doing quick versions of these exercises in warm ups to get this responsiveness more often! The leg yields themselves were mediocre, though definitely way better than past attempts. I need to figure out how to get her moving her back legs in response to my aids. I’ll try to remember to ask my instructor tomorrow.

I didn’t do too much canter work, since I’d been doing a bit of canter already to keep Misty going forward. We did have a couple awesome transitions while doing figure eights though, and of course the pure joy of careening around the arena. I got immediate left lead transitions and right lead transitions within 3 steps, so that’s a big improvement.

After the ride I washed her tail and back legs. Look how pretty! (Also I finally updated my iPhone to iOS 7 and I swear it takes worse pictures now :( Realistically I probably just had dirt on the lens).

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Someone was unloading hay to the barn rafters and blocking our way out with the big scary truck, so we did a few carrot stretches in her stall. “Why you take picture instead of giving me treats?”

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Last on the agenda was a nice walk/graze. It’s definitely spring now, and the nearby paths get greener every week. We’re back to a pace of approximately 1 metre per 5 minutes since she has so much to eat.┬áThis tall grass wasn’t there last week:

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Apparently it’s horse catnip, because Misty went nuts for it. She didn’t even look up as a few dogs walked by barking.

Before going back inside, I took Misty to the wash pad and asked to her stand there for a minute. She was so good! She walked on with almost no hesitation, and stood mostly still. She snorted a little, but had a good sniff and seemed to settle down. I even pulled out the good treats, so she called it a win. I hope I can get her comfortable enough to give her some full-body quicksilver baths this summer!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 Exercises, Lease Day, Lessons

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