Tuesday, August 2, 2011

7-31-11 Canters and Shadows

7-29, it rained. Not much, now, mind you. Tropical Dud Don waved at the house, and a short little burst of ten minutes of rain came. I'm thankful, I'm grateful. Just enough to knock the dust down. My front yard was green for a total of about 24 hours. It's done being green already, and has faded to a taupe-pea green. Boo.

7-30, I longed Harley, knowing he'd had almost a week off. He was nice. Big, forward, happy. Ears everywhere, and when we finished up, he seemed pleased with himself. One wrong lead left, but it was easy enough to correct. Good job, kiddo.

7-31, we got down to business. At 6:45Am, as the sun brought enough daylight to see and not yet make shadows, we headed to the arena. Warmup was good, and I focused 75% left. Left trot, left canter. Good work, good forward. It wasn't "hot" yet, and while there was no breeze, fog lingered on the grassline in what looked more like steam than fog. I hopped on, and my glasses very quickly said, "Eh! Screw you!". I spent most of the ride fogged over, wishing I'd put my contacts in before I went outside. (Now, remember this, because it's going to be important later - I couldn't see exactly what was going on through the streaky fog on my glasses.)

Trot work started out stiff and lazy. I expected it. Harley would rather do nothing, and who could blame him? Again, if I had to pick a horse, I'll take lazy requiring leg over 'riding the brakes' any day.

Back to the walk, and he started to give to pressure. Thank you, son. Up to canter right, long enough to make him realize that's what his feet were doing on that Sunday morning. Good work, over half the arena, and for the first time, when I looked down the long side, that's where his loping legs went, rather than the habitual circle. About three happy circles right, and back to trot. Stayed at trot right until he gave, relaxed, and was steady. Down to a walk, when I got a little free walk (holding the light contact long & low), eased to a halt. I offered him a few ice cubes to crunch, and I grabbed some water.

Harley was less than pleased when I got back on. We'd been at total work time of about 30 minutes, and I'm sure he thought he was finished. He argued by flipping his head around at the walk a little. Up to trot, then, monster. Heading down the long side, he shifted away from the rail abruptly. (I still can't see quite exactly where we're going,, remember?) "What the #($* was that for, You?!" I scowled at him. He pressed on, but in the same spot, did the same thing. Then I realized it... He was spooking at his shadow that had recently appeared. He did it going both ways at trot, and right at the spot on the long side where the tree no longer shaded, and his shadow appeared. Two spooks around each way, he realized what it was, and relaxed. *laugh*

Canter left. First ask, wrong. Back to trot, ask again. Second ask, correct. Off we go, directly down the long side, turning at center. Fan-stinking-tastic. Steady, easy, relaxed, me up in a 2-point, trying to keep him going and stay out of his way, let him find his legs. When it got easy, I barely put a little weight on the saddle. Half an arena later, he broke to trot. I had been kissing to him, and adding leg, so the body weight was more than his balance could take. No problem. Back to trot, and a long walk break. Walk between working collected and free walk, with moderate results.

Up to trot, staying there until he relaxed, and back to canter left again. First ask, correct. Sweetness. I rode a brief few strides in 2-point, and I decided to settle into the saddle with my seat, and start to introduce him to pushing with my hips and my legs. He felt very wobbly for the first few strides of my rear end driving, but then relaxed. We rode at least 5 "laps" around half the arena, when I chose to ease to trot, and I let out a heavy sigh. He broke to trot immediately, and very quickly started to search for the contact.

There I am
In the early morning shadows
Pretending to look ahead through foggy glasses
Cantering half the arena
On green baby Harley
Loose rein, no contact, guiding 65% with my legs and upper body
Glowing with success

The kid's got a good memory, for sure. His left lead departures were better, he stayed on the straight lines rather than wiggled all around, and he didn't break gait at the slightest change from me. Progress. Slow, heat-delayed, but progress.

There are LOTS of other things on my mind these days about the equestrian world. A LOT. To some of my readers, I've privately emailed you about my frustrations. You all have probably seen Courtney King-Dye's video, so wear your helmets! Plenty of other bloggers have stirred up enough controversy, from all kinds of topics. Everything, from slaughter, to breeding, to human fitness, training & clinic fees, horse fitness and treatments... I'm only one writer, and I use this blog mostly to record my progress. I've not yet decided how ugly I want to be in print, but know I'm reading, I'm reacting, and a lot of it isn't good.

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