I can't even remember which day this weekend I did it, but I had another jitterbug ride on Ransom. He was raceychasey over the poles, so I didn't even consider a crossrail. If I can remember correctly, I felt my body tense, his respond, and it spiraled down from there.
Monday, I figured on a really nice, quiet, calm dressage saddle walk down the road. The weather was misty sorta rain, but not cold. Windy, but still managable. I figured he'd be quiet & easy. Just as soon as I hopped on, he started doing this little jiggy-walk around the side yard. So back to the arena we went. The walk settled, but his back still felt really tense. I hopped down, free lunged a little, then rode all three gaits until he settled down on contact. None of the ride was pretty. I was fighting off a sore throat and a little fever. I also settled on a less than perfect ride, and kept it short.
Tuesday.. it was On! I've looked over some old blog entries, pondered it a bit, and concluded that, in this moderate weather, Ransom doesn't do well on every other day rides. He's at a good weight, eating well, and it's showing in his energy level. I decided to take the lunge whip out to the arena, set him up hunter, and force a long ride.
In his free warmup, he tried to be lazy, but my lunge whip convinced him otherwise. That took about ten minutes. Then, I hopped on. We spent another 10 minutes at trot changing direction, serpentines, 10m circles, 20m circles, even a few 5m circles. I didn't stay in any one direction for too long. I gave him a 5min walk break, grabbed a drink myself, and hopped back on. Then we did another 10min of canter work. I rode canter both directions about 5min each, in sitting canter & two point. I tried a few direction changes, which led to some counter canter, and some bad flying change attempts. I really need to learn how to ask for those, because Ransom snortled once, dropped to trot for about two strides, then hopped into the new lead. I think he was telling me, "Listen... You're asking ALL wrong, but I know what you want, because I see which way we're turning, so let me help you out just a piece."
Cooled down with a little more walk, focusing on stretching down into the bit. I hopped off one last time, and pulled away two of the four canter poles. Mounted up again, and rode trot poles six times each direction (not one after the other, I stuffed in trot direction changes, trot diagonals, circles, and a little canter-from). Then I rode the canter poles three times each way, no direction changes, no circles away from. Here's how - canter to, canter over, away, make the circle, back to, over, away, repeat. Three "overs", and then one circle at canter on the rail beside the poles. Drop to a walk slowly, reverse, repeat. Started out going left, and he was really nice. Heading right, he was kinda taking off away, ears peaked forward, almost asking, "What's next, Mom?"
Walked it out a bit to catch his breath, and then cooled and stretched out with long & low trot for 5, and long & low canter for 5 more. Walked and walked some more.
Total ride, including his free warmup, one hour, 15minutes. I purposely made it long, and kept eyes on my watch for each "set". I paid very close attention to his breathing rate recovery at the walk breaks. Did he catch it quick? Or was he labored for a long time? I discovered, Ransom recovers MUCH faster than he used to. Used to be, a 15 minute set at trot working hard, he'd huff & puff for ten minutes of walk. Last night, it only took one or two walk laps for a few minutes total before he was recovered to normal.
I hosed him down after to get the sweat out. His pads were sweaty, the girth was sweaty, and he had sweat in all the good working spots. There was plenty of yawning at the end of the ride. I imagine he's plenty sore today, as am I. He'll have tonight off, then it's back to action Thursday. I'm going to focus on two to three day worksets for him for a while, see if that doesn't help me make a little more progress. I'm also going to increase the work length as the days lengthen. I'm done with the 20minute, 30minute "routine weeknight rides" that barely stretch us both out or warm us up before quitting.
There's too many new exercises I can do, and too many new things to learn to just "goof off" every ride. I'm ready to work, and learn, and get it done!