Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lessons, Shoes, & Spooks

Friday, as scheduled. Chewie walk, trot, canter in the round pen. 45 minutes. Solid, steady, and pretty darn overall cooperative. He's a pleasure to ride, and I was eager to get him to the arena.

Romeo, arena. Again, a complete pleasure. Walk, trot, a little over-coming fear of the rail, and a few ground poles. I didn't force the idea of jumps, as my standards weren't out there, and I was more concentrated on getting over the arena-spooks for Saturday's lesson. 45 minutes.

Saturday, Romeo Lesson. Carried the PVC poles and standards out to the arena. A hour plus lesson. First few looks at the crossrail, he sailed it plus a foot or more. We were jumping left, and that meant jumping facing the barn. Romeo was eager to 'get home', albeit only in his little imagination. He was incredibly cooperative. We worked mostly on fine tuning my timing. How incredible ... it feels neat even typing that out. Rather than working on overcoming fear, or overcoming staring at the fence, we were working on my spur-tickle, crest release timing... It got better the longer the lesson went on. Robin rode after, and Romeo was less cooperative, more pushy. He was trotting like a maniac to the fence, and trying to canter away. I don't know if she had more energy than he needed, or perhaps a little fear. I didn't ask, but marveled that Romeo was incredibly cooperative for me.

Saturday afternoon, Chewie to the arena. I had plans for lunging and a light ride, minimum walk & jog. Well, that's what I got. What a joy... He lunged without issue, no bucking, no fighting. I climbed aboard with a little hesitation. o O ( This is the first time in this open space carrying me around, good golly I hope he doesn't spook at somethign & show me how easily he can jump the rail fence... Good grief I hope he doesn't look at that crossrail set up & insist on jumping it... man I hope nothing spooks us ) O o .

Whatta horse... is all I can say to describe him. We had two deer sprint across the pasture between the arena & barn. One went in the woods, spooked out a momma hog & two baby hogs. The hogs took off parallel to the long side by the woods, and then here comes the deer again, trying to reunite & figure out how to stay away from us. In each case, when he saw the animals scurrying around, he stopped. No encouragement from me, he just stopped. No taking off, no jigging about, just stopped. I couldn't have been more pleased. We ended the ride with some decent trot - not an extended tigger-trot by any means of the imagination, but a trot that was easy to post with. He wasn't trying to take off, not even facing the barn.

Sunday, during Romeo over cross rails, waaaay off in the distance, across my pasture, down the powerline straight, across the dirt road, behind the neighbor's front yard, here go about 50 cattle, galloping out of the woods headed down the fence line. Behind them, here come at least two herding dogs, nipping at hooves, barking up a fierce storm. I had just intended on my first jump attempt, when here comes the chaos! I didn't give up, pointed Romeo at the fence. It was as if he said to me, "Hey Mom! Look over there! O oooh.. wait... Think, Jump, Land... Hey Mom! They're still over there! MOM!! LOOOK!!!!!" He focused on the job just long enough to get it done, then back to lookie-see. We cleared about four fences, then, knowing I was tired, and still had Chewie to work, I cut his ride short, at 40 minutes.

Caught Chewie, walked him to the trailer, right foot hoof pick.. Oh Dang It! Right shoe missing... that silly boy! Turned Chewie back out, he was grouchy, and I was disappointed.

Monday ride, with not enough evening time for both horses & a decent dinner, Romeo was the pick. Warm-up was a solid trot with incredible variety. Serpentines, circles, down the long diagonal, up & down centerline, anything to keep it interesting. He was a little distracted to start, but once he realized everytime he lost focus I was going to change something, he quickly complied. Jumps both to left & right, about 10 to the right, and 4 left. Had some issues with aiming at the fence straight, and going away straight, in the right direction. He was headed at it straight, then would jump diagonally, headed to the rail. It may have been what he thought I wanted, since I was trying to keep him on the rail to keep him focused on "the next job" after the fence. Anyways, with some left leg, and solid right rein, we fixed ourselves right. No spookie cows, no goofy deer, no wandering hog families. Total ride, about an hour.

Things are taking shape. I'm no longer tacking up thinking, "oh geez, what's going to scare my horse & ruin the ride today?", but instead, I'm thinking, "wow, I'd love to clear fences today & not have to reset anything... I hope my timing is better. I wonder what new pattern I can work on."

Chewie's shoe replaced Monday. Robin is scheduled to come over tonight. She'll ride one, I'll ride the other, then we'll switch. I hope to get some fences in with both horses at trot tonight. She may discourage jumping Chewie, as it aims my two-point a little more over his front end, which makes Romeo too heavy to jump, but I know Chewie loves jumping, and I'd love to give him, and my confidence, that opportunity.

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