Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching Up, Again

Wednesday - Day off for all.

Thursday - Romeo, arena, hour's work. Started out with lunge line & side reins, which he did not appreciate. After he threw a few fits, and realized that the only way to get off the bit pressure was to relax, things improved. Under saddle walk, trot, crossrails to & fro.

Friday - Romeo again. Remove side rein lunge, repeat same otherwise. It had rained good Friday morning, and the arena was a bit slippery until we really got it worked in. Stayed off of Chewie, afraid he'd pull a shoe. Romeo handled the weather good, and the footing didn't seem to be a jumping issue for him. Hour's work.

Saturday morning, Chewie, round pen. Walk, Trot, Canter on side reins, 5 & 6. No problems, no issues, no fears. Climbed under saddle, walk, trot, canter (left). First canter transition he dropped & twisted his head, tried to disagree with the notion. I got about 5 strides, then he quit. I realized I can't stay in two-point after the request. So I went to 2-point, asked for canter, and as soon as I had it, sat down. Chewie responded with about two circles around, on nice bit contact, and a very gentle stride. Felt quite a bit slower than usual - I think Rider has just gotten used to staying relaxed. He seemed to appreciate the stretch at the canter. Rest of the ride was fantastic. Nice full trot, collected up on the bit. Hour plus work.

Saturday evening, Romeo, Lesson. Robin pointed out in trot warmup that I was slightly more in the left stirrup & seat bone than the right. Took stirrups up & over saddle, and tried more sit trot. Found the problem. Romeo was a Steady-Eddie trot while I figured myself out. Got my weight balanced again. Worked on crossrails with wooden posts, and then switched off to crossrails on PVC posts. I expected first fence of PVC to be big, and Romeo didn't comply. I prepared physically for a big jump, and he barely cleared it. Pilot-Error! Lesson over fences concentrated on fine-tuning mid-air and landing, keeping pressure & energy up, and thinking 3 -4 strides after the fence. Good overall.. Hour & half lesson.

Sunday afternoon, Chewie, Round pen. See, Saturday, repeat, add more canter. Cantered to left about 4 times. First few I only got a couple strides, one even wrong lead. I think wrong lead I had outside rein pressure (whatta smart horse!). Learned how to rest hands on his neck without grabbing mane, so we should be able to eliminate that "grab a wadda mane & pull up" auto-canter panic thing he does. Almost cantered to the right. As I was preparing for it, a HUGE gust of wind blew across the property. Scared the beejeebies out of Chewie. He shot forward from a slow walk into one stride of canter-near-gallop. I stood up in the stirrups, then realized that was the wrong way to slow him. I sat deep, let out a huge "shhhhhhh", and he stopped! My boy went right back to a walk, let out a heavy sigh, and relaxed. Three months ago, I would have probably been in the dirt, and all would've been wasted, ruining all those good canters. I'm finally learning that if I'm on the horse when something goes wrong, it's best to stay on, rather than bail out.

Sunday late afternoon, Romeo, arena. Walk, trot, crossrails, and spooks. Halfway through warm-up, Romeo was shying at the far end of the arena, focused on the trees. I trotted him forward the first time, then circled back to it again. Second time, he tried to bolt. He got about one panicked stride (maybe two), before I kind of went back to old ways. I pulled him down to a one-rein emergency brake stop, and got him to halt. He was obviously scared. We went a few strides forward down the long side at walk, then right back into trot. I gave him a circle at the near end to reassure, then went right back down the other long side to the spooky far end. He was still a little jittery. A few laps later, he relaxed his back, lowered his head, and started licking & chewing. Walk break, a few goes at fences, and we were done. Fences to the right final, he knocked down one rail twice. Once I reset, then next time, we just went right back to flat trot, sitting & extended. I know he was tired, but the laziness was irritating. I got his mind back on me, and walked him out.

Wind spooks? Certainly overcome for Rider. Spooks from boogity-men in the forest? Just about conquered as well. We're well on the way for the May show plans. Everytime I type these out, I feel a little more progress is being made. Sure, I'm not at Training Level with Chewie, and I'd like to get there. Perhaps the Fall or Winter Series at Sienna will be the breakthrough spot for him. There's plenty of warm-up space there, and it's a pretty laid back atmosphere.

Failed to mention, Romeo's on a borrowed bit (Thanks Robin!). Chewie's french link & bridle are now all his own again. Robin lent us a full bridle & eggbut snaffle. Romeo is cooperating quite nicely. The Korsteel copper link loose ring snaffle I ordered is on back-order (gasp.. the horror), and may not make it for the show. We'll continue on with Robin's borrowed tack until mine arrives. Chewie likes having his own slobber on his own bit, and Romeo is learning how to cooperate with an equally moderate bit. Grinning to myself, knowing that the eggbut snaffle is still milder than anything I saw at the April show. Go Romeo the CowPonY!!!

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