I'm pretty sure that we're experiencing one of the warmest Februaries ever. I know that it's due to El Nino and global warming. I also know that other places are experiencing really nasty weather because of it. But I can't control it so I'm just going with it.
Last night was cold and the ground was frozen. But it was sunny and I have rubber in my ring. The combination meant that by noon my ring was perfect for riding. I brought out my drag and dragged the ring first. Irish and Carmen watched me carefully.
After lunch I changed into my clothes and went to get Carmen. Again she came right up to greet me. I put her halter on and led her down to the barn. I left Irish out and told him to behave. He looked at me with an expression of hurt innocence. Who me? I'm the good one, remember?
I don't like to have the horses used to only way of doing things so I like to mix up whether one is left in the barn or in the field or in the small paddock.
I was able to get Carmen groomed and tacked up while ground tied. She needed a few reminders but mostly because she was being curious.
At first on the lunge she was a bit sluggish so I figured I might have a bit of balking with the trot when I got on. So I worked on getting her forward and relaxed. As she worked she stretched out into the bridle in a lovely frame. I love seeing that because I don't use side reins so it's a result of her working properly.
I got on and we started walking. We did serpentines practicing changes of flexion and bend. After a few of those I asked her to trot. As expected she was a bit balky. I made sure that I didn't lean forward over her withers. That makes her worse. Instead I stayed upright and asked her to go forward. I also gave a couple pony kicks at the right moment. In few minutes she was trotting forward and stretching into the bridle. We went back to figure 8s and serpentines. I realized that she needed more support going from left to right then right to left. After the trotting I brought her back to walk and we did a free walk across the diagonal. It wouldn't have earned me any more than a 6 (from a really kind judge) but I was pleased that she actually stretched down and didn't spook.
I picked up the contact and we worked at leg yields from the quarter line to the rail. As with most green horses she tends to lead with her shoulder too much. I'm still figuring out how much correction she needs as she doesn't like the closing outside rein if I hold it for a millisecond too long. After a few at a walk I picked up the trot and we tried them again. Not nearly as good or smooth. She wanted to speed up (typical with a green horse) and became irritated that I half-halted her. Before we got too flustered I brought her back to a walk and we leg yielded at the walk on one side. I then picked up the trot and we did at trot on the opposite side. That seemed to help her put it together. After a few of these I could feel her getting a bit tense so we picked up a canter to blow off some steam with simple forward movement. That helped her to relax. After a few minutes of canter we did another free walk across the diagonal and worked on leg yields on the right rein. It seemed to be easier for her this time and after a few we picked up a canter again to relax. I then brought her back to trot and tried one more leg yield from the centre line to the quarter line- she was perfect.
It seemed like the perfect end so I asked her to walk. I could see Irish watching us and he was up by troll corner. I gave her some rein and we walked up to troll corner and stood there basking in the sun. I hopped off and as I loosened her girth she blew out gently and nudged me. I undid her flash and let her graze. This is really the first time she's grazed in that spot of the ring without a lot of encouragement. I had to snap a picture:
I realized that this picture is worth, not a thousand words, but a thousand hours: hours spent on the ground and in the saddle getting her to trust me and accept my leadership. Not because I said so but because I earned it.