dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Proof, as they say,

is in the pudding.

Although technically and historically the phrase was "The proof of the pudding is in the eating". And investigating the origin of that phrase will take you on an internet journey of a good 30 minutes. If you are a geek like me.

But I digress.

If you are an AA like me you like to finish each ride feeling that you made progress. We read, take lessons, paritcipate in on-line debates, look at videos and try to apply what we've learned in a systematic fashion. But you are rarely 100% sure that you accomplished what you wanted. An issue pops up, you deal with it and hope that you made at least a step towards correcting the issue rather than making it more ingrained. For me, no matter how confident I feel that I tackled something correctly, it is the next ride that lets me know if I was correct or not. If the issue is better (or btter yet, gone) then I feel that I'm on the right track.

In my last post I wrote about an issue that had croppped up and that I handled- hopefully accurately and with intelligence & finesse. But I'm not a professional and I don't pretend that I am. This is a training blog of an AA working as best she can. Trust me, I'm not professing to be brilliant at anything. So I was excited on Sunday to ride Steele again and see how we were doing. I was also excited that my friend Cynthia was coming over to ride Irish. This would allow me to ride Steele in the ring with another horse.

I wanted this to be successful so I made a careful plan. Irish had a few days off with an abscess and I wanted to ride him to make sure that he wasn't overly enthusiastic with Cynthia. It as also a coolish, windy day. Always fun with a redheaded half-TB.  I figured a 30 minute ride would tell me how he was. I'm glad that I did. He was quite , ahem, enthused. But I was able to channel his energy into some fun work on lengthens and canter work. I put him back out to the field and brought in Steele. I put on his lunging equipment and we went up to the ring. After a warm up I put on side reins. I realized I hadn't done that in a while and I wanted him to get a sense of rein contact that was steady. After a bit of that I then ground drove him. Through all of it he was right with me. He would see other things going on but ignored them in favour of me. Good boy. I was thrilled when I put him away.

When Cynthia came we went out to the field to get them. Both came trotting up- Irish with more enthusiasm than Steele. He went right up to Cynthia to say hi. I swear he believes that he's the true host of Oakfield Farms. And who am I to argue? We tacked up the horses and headed up to the ring. I realized that in my excitement I forgot my helmet so Steele and I headed back. I expected him to want to follow Irish but he stayed with me. In the ring while Cynthia rode I did some ground work. While Steele definitley knew that Irish was in the ring he was very focussed. So after a bit I decided to mount up. I told Cynthia that we couldn't be counted on for steering and that I might be dismounting again, depending on he felt. When I mounted he moved a bit but stopped when I said 'whoa' and stood still until I asked him. He balked once shortly after we started and I gave him a light tap with my crop. He jumped sideways and moved on.

I made sure that we did not start by following Irish. I wanted him to listen to me, not get into a discussion about following. As the ride progressed we got closer and closer and I practiced steering towards and away. I dismounted once to fix some tack and then re-mounted. He backed up as I was getting on so I repeated the mounting again. I think that I had the rein too tight for him and he got confused. I was so thrilled with the ride. We walked, trotted, did circles, changed reins, and he was tuned in the whole time. The issue of the 'corner' came up once and I just made sure that my whole demeanour was one of 'nope. we don't worry about that remember?' and it became a non-issue. I finished the ride by stopping in the middle of the ring, with him on a loose rein and both of us watching Irish trotting and cantering. He was having a grand time. And Steele didn't try to walk off or follow. After standing for a good 3-4 minutes we walked off and then halted again and I dismounted. This time I went over and sat on the mounting block so he could stand beside me and wait for Irish. He was quite content to stand there and hang out with me.

So sunday was a lot of fun and a big success.

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