Monday 3/10: Full plate! First stopped at Barn S to ride Prior. Timed my ride with Christy on Liam because I wanted to see how Pri would do walking around the driveway (in preparation for maybe trail riding someday?) but we weren’t sure how it would go, so figured it best to go with a
handsome gentleman friend experienced horse. We got to a good point in our trot work and C/L were still going, so figured it was a good time to gauge how her canter was. I haven’t cantered her under saddle since… November maybe? Plus a couple brief lungeing sessions. So I wasn’t setting my expectations very high. Left first since it’s her easier direction. Pretty decent transition– she was a little surprised I asked for it I think, but not so much that it frazzled her. It’s definitely still a very green canter, but she’s got such a naturally long stride that it didn’t feel like choppy baby motorcycle canter. Steering and pace control were fairly, uh, minimal…not in the sense that she was running away, just that those things aren’t that consistently installed at the trot so no miracle happening at the canter. I largely stayed out of her way other than to keep her in a general egg-shaped circle and sat down to ask for slow when we had more pace than I wanted. Mostly I just enjoyed the ride. She’s got nice quality natural gaits and I think her canter has the potential to be really lovely. She’s a more hunter-type mover for sure…but definitely not ready to even think about jumping until we’ve mastered minding our feet over walk and trot poles! I wish I could just get her out into a big field, maybe some hills and varied terrain so we could canter just big long stretches and build more muscles instead of trying to put everything together in a teeny indoor… but alas, born in the wrong era/biome, not my horse, etc etc etc. Took a walk break and ah yes, I’d set off the Greenie TB Cantering Switch. Going to the right, we did some trot and walk transitions so as not to install the “canter, walk, reverse, canter” mindset. Once we had a calmer trot back, asked for the canter. It took a couple tries to get the lead and there was definitely some more excitement on her part, but nothing naughty or dangerous, just exuberance. Did a little more trot afterwards, and then walked and then we were ready to go outside. She was foot perfect. We couldn’t get the arena-to-outside door open so had to get on again outside off a stack of haybales…no big deal. First we walked around in the snow in the outdoor
Then we went down the path between paddocks, to the gate where the trails start
And then back up the driveway to the property entrance. She was fabulous the entire time. I think she really enjoyed getting out of the arena– I know I did (gah, I will keep kicking myself forever for not taking Pearl on those trails more while I could’ve). She marched along with her ears pricked and her eyes wide open, but she wasn’t spooky or rushing, just enjoying the scenery. Having steady-eddy Liam along with us was a huge help too of course, but I didn’t get the sense she’d have done anything wrong even on her own, and I was able to just let her walk on the buckle. Good little red mare!
Then, I stopped off at Pearl’s place for some cuddles. We handwalked a little in the arena and the footing seemed like it should be good for turnout from now on. Tucker went out, but I didn’t have enough time to wait for drugs to kick in so Pearl stayed in. She was fairly miffed, but a bucket of mush was enough to distract her.
Then back again to the other barn for my lesson on Derby. It went quite well, to be rambled about at a later date.
Tuesday 3/11: Hung out with my girl. Got some more hair off her, and we even found some funny green stuff on the ground
Friday 3/14: OK, can’t put it off any longer. Camera(s) batteries charged, horse drugged and bubblewrapped. Had Carson man the videocam while I had the still. Strategically placed some flakes of hay into the arena, led Pearl over to them, ever-so-sneakily unclipped her leadrope while she was eating. Carefully stepped back, ready to catch any fireworks…
Hmm, that was anticlimactic. Anyone that says Trakehners are dumb and crazy and mares are crazy or whatever it is, needs to meet my horse. For all her quirks and high energy level, when the gloves come off, she is such a sensible little thing. And yeah, she had some chemical help, but from the amount she was blowing through it under saddle I didn’t expect it to have this much effect. She’s a smart one, she is. She did trot (yes, she’s still lame…) around a little, even gave a mini buck/sassy head toss, but not the one-horse rodeo I’d been expecting. She was chill enough we decided might as well throw Tuck out there too, since Lauren and I were both there. After
kindly thanking him for his hospitality explaining to him who controls the hay piles, they both settled in to eat. Good ponies.
Saturday 3/15: Same dealio. A bit less Ace, tossed the kids outside. Ol’ man Tucker had more sass than her…she wanted to stand there drinking in the fresh air.
Then I rode Prior. Derby was all decked out in his new spring outfit, so of course we couldn’t be outdone
I try to start her trot off as slow as possible just by controlling my post, in hopes that it will reinforce that the rider picks the tempo. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, we started out nice and slow and willing to stretch…and then maybe 2o minutes in, it was like a switch went off and we were back to speedy giraffe mode. I think part of it was “omg we got to CANTER” last time, because it did start fairly soon after ending a walk break. I think part of it was also she was just getting tired. That thing where owners become their pets… Pearl will (would?) keep on trotting forever and we’d only barely started getting to the point where I was trying to ask her to do things that could potentially make her tire faster, so I have to consciously remind myself not to keep going and going and going, especially on a horse who doesn’t have as much muscle yet. Dumb human eventually got this light bulb through her thick skull, and we took a good long walk (still working on bending and steering and stuff) and then when we came back to trot got decent enough work to end on a good note. Duly noted for next time.