Sunday, May 24, 2009

I usually love the stormy weather...

... but now it's getting in the way of my riding! The weather for the past week has been the same every day: sunny and warm in the morning and early afternoon, storms all afternoon and evening (the only time I can ride during the week).

So today I decided to ride before the weather got ugly. I tacked Red up and noticed the storms building in the area but nothing looked bad. So I lunged Red and he was a good boy. He needed a little extra work to the right, but that's ok. So when we were done lunging, it started pouring. We ran over to the shed and I threw the rain sheet over him and I waited in the shed. I was determined to ride today!

After a few minutes, the rain let up and it was beautiful again. I rode Red and this time, we used the entire paddock rather that just a part. He went much better and now he can get use to the idea of staying on the rail. To the left everything was great. He needs a lot of work on his balance to the right. He throws his shoulder into the center and can't bed at all. He is like riding a motorcycle around turns, I feel like my knee is dragging on the ground! If I give him a strong inside leg, he does a hop and will bend for a few strides, then he hops back to throwing the shoulder in. The good news is he responds so now it will be a lot of repetition and work trying to build up the right muscles so he can do it easier and for longer periods of time.

Red and I were both exhausted after our workout so I went for a short trail ride to cool us both down. We came across a doberman that was not behind a fence and he wasn't too fond of us. He growled and started running over and Red did not like that. No other dogs have bothered him, but this one wasn't behind a fence and he knew it. Red spun around and said I'm outta here right before the neighbor called their dog back. He settled down and then we were able to continue on with our ride... until the lightning flashed near us. Then we turned around and ran back home.

Again, it was another great day with Red!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A first I was hoping to avoid for a bit longer!

I got a rude reminder to keep my heels down! I had my first fall off Red today!

We were working in the paddock and we were working on the right lead canter. We were going in a straight line across the field and when we got to the fence, I asked for him to go right and continue the canter. Instead, he did a last second lead change
and shot to the left. That left me to go straight right into the fence! Luckily the vinyl fence is pretty forgiving and bouncy so I bounced off and landed on the ground with my feet and rear in the air against the fence. I was fine, no injuries other than a stiff calf muscle.

What's funny is I scared Red when I fell off. He stopped pretty fast and backed up and stood there and looked at me. I looked up to see where he was after giving myself a few seconds to rest (expecting to see him on the other side of the field kicking and bucking) and there he stood right behind me giving me the look of, "Oh wow, I am SO sorry, I had no idea that was going to happen OMG I'm soooo sorry!" It was pretty darn cute. I got up and he came right over to me and we gave eachother lots of love. He checked on me and saw I was ok, I checked on him and he was ok, and I got back on and we went back to work!

We ended the day on the trail and we went by our selves! I wanted to trot a little and work on my ahem *cough* heels and balance but Red started getting a little too excited. He kept going into what felt like a beautiful extended trot so I settled him back down to a walk and we just enjoyed the rest of our trail ride.

Enjoy the trail pics below!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our first trail ride!

As you can guess by the title, I rode Red on the trail for the first time! I lunged him for a bit because he was feeling fresh (today was windy and cool) and then I met up with the neighbor's daughter and we started walking on the trail. At first he had his head so high the tips of his ears were about in my eyes. So we walked a few property lengths and then came back and did them again.

We passed a few horses and all he wanted to do was go see them, but I made him keep walking. He picked up a trot twice and wanted to go and I said no and eased him back and he listened and came right back to me. There wasn't anything he didn't want to walk past, so that's really good. Nothing spooked him. Tarps, trailers, sheds, piles of junk, etc. He took a little hop when a bunch of dogs came out of nowhere and barked at us, but that was it. After he knew what it was he was ok, no after-shocks.

At the half way point of the 3 mile loop, his head was down and he was sneaking bites of grass and the rest of the trail was a breeze. We stopped a few times and I let him eat so he could see that the trail is "fun" and no big deal. The last half we did on a loose rein and you could see he enjoyed it!

I'm off to Steamboat Spring for the week. I can't wait to get back!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our First Lesson!

Red and I the day before our lesson.

After talking about it with my neighbor, we decided it was time. We went to my neighbor’s who is a dressage instructor and Red and I both got our first dressage lesson! I didn’t lunge him before because I was running late, though I did just ride him yesterday and it was near 80° outside. I also didn’t wear my eventing vest and the lesson was over at the neighbor’s arena, so Red got to see a new place. Apparently I was feeling brave. As usual, things went really really well!

My equitation needed some work and I was happy to have someone else observe Red and give me a few pointers with him. My hands were open on the reins, I wasn’t maintaining constant contact with Red and moving with him, my elbows were out to the side, and I was not pushing my weight down into my heels (whew!). We worked on walking, trotting, and cantering in both directions. We worked on transitions and having Red respond to my leg and keep his head in front of his body rather than look around all the time.

Red’s sides are either dead or he doesn’t care, because I can kick the you-know-what out of him and it doesn’t phase him. We did a lot of work on walk-trot transitions and got him to respond pretty quick after a few tries. When it came time to ask for the right canter, we had to get the crop. Some horses freak out if you just hold a crop. Some get tapped with it once and they come to. Red can get smacked and smacked and it doesn’t really have any effect on him. He would make a great kid’s horse, that’s for sure. He is so loving and carefree.

But long story short, the lesson went really well. I have a lot of things to work on myself and I got to see a little of Red’s potential. He responded well to constant contact and he did a good job himself of maintaining it and not looking around, throwing his head up, or diving. By the end of the 2-hour lesson, he was going around really well and I was exhausted, but very pleased.

Ryan loves Red, and Red loves Ryan.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Walk, Trot, Canter!

I have ridden Red twice since my last post and there isn't much new to report on (no news is good news, right?). He is still the calm smart OTTB he has been over the past several weeks and I couldn't be happier with him.

Before I rode yesterday we again, as always, lunged before. He walks, trots, and canters on the lunge like an angel going to the left. To the right he walks and trots fine, but we are working on the canter. When he doesn't know what to do or how to do it, he just stops and looks at me as he's done before. It's kinda funny when he does it, you can see it's purely for his clarification. He's not doing it to be bad, he is really looking at me and trying to make sense of what I'm asking him to do. So a few more tries to the right and I imagine he'll have it figured out in no time.

Yesterday I rode without having my husband home for the first time. *GASP* I did tell my neighbor to keep an eye on me and she did, but this guy has no bad intentions so I am not worried. Now I know he's just 6 so I am always aware and prepared, but I don't worry. Heck, I may even ride without my eventing vest in the near future!

I know Red can walk, trot, AND canter, but I was waiting to take that last step until I was comfortable and he was too, and yesterday was that day. There is a crappy video summarizing the ride below, but I only tried the canter to the left for our first try. He did great. I try to be prepared in case he takes off or bucks, but as always, there were no problems. It took a lot of work to get him going to pick up the gait but after asking a few times, he did it very smooth and without any shenanigans.

He was making ok circles at the walk and trot and we lost them at the canter. He'll learn how to balance better and turn in the future, it will come with practice and training. But for now our canter circles were pretty sad but that's ok, it was our first try.

I'm sure we'll have our second try soon...