Monday, April 16, 2012

Riders up!

I had brought my mare home last weekend and she needed her feet done again before any more work was to happen with her. I managed to work in 3 rides at the other facility while she was out. She is definitely a horse that is going to teach me a lot about riding as I will be bringing her along under saddle. I find myself telling her with each ride- "This is not all about you, you know. I need to work on things too."  I have issues with my riding as we all do. Fix one thing and something else needs work.

If you would like, I can do that in another blog- detailing the work and her progress there, leaving this one to grooming. Let me know in the comments as usual.

I trimmed her front hooves, (the size of dinner plates I tell ya!) and gave the backs a few flicks with the rasp. She has been wearing them down and they still looked good so she is good to go again. At least for a while... Yesterday I got on her.  I lunged her and she never went faster than a trot. I am really appreciating the laziness of this mare. I mounted and we walked around going to the left, going to the right, using my leg to keep her from dropping her inside hip and she. felt. really. good. It felt good to be in the saddle again too.

My back was a bit sore already from getting hay in the morning, but I wanted to ride and needed to ride, so I wasn't letting this stop me.  As much as she is built more suited to hunters, the dressage saddle fits her better, so I have been using it.  I also feel more secure in it, like it has a deeper seat which it doesn't, but whatever. I also worked on letting go of the reins and allowing her to have her head more, to pick her way around the arena.

I have a bridle with the cotton reins and leather 'markers' on them. I rode on the second marker before and it was too much contact for her. She is still learning to go forward and I need to let her. Instead I rode with the inside rein on the first marker and the outside rein on the buckle or first marker depending on how much slid through my hand.  I am learning to let go and trust her, as she is learning to go forward and trust me.

As it was, when we finally worked our way up to trotting, as I would squeeze with my legs and push her forward, she would round up and come back to me in a way, as she shoved off and went into a trot. The reins would go slack a bit and I had no contact as we moved off and sped up.   That was a little unsettling for me, but as we moved a few strides along, she started to stretch out and down. Then she would stop.  No reason, just stopped. It took a while and we finally went around on an egg shaped circle and made it most of the way around before she would stop again. We were making progress though so I couldn't argue or complain.

By the end of our ride we were doing complete circles at the trot. One direction, then the other. A circle and a half to the left, a 3/4 circle, half circle, circle, change direction and repeat.  I was able to post, (which is why my legs are killing me today, but it is a good thing. I know it is!) work on picking up the right diagonal from the start, having to change diagonals, but we were getting there. We were trotting on cue and stopping on her terms, but still stopping. I was relaxing and breathing and still on my mare. 

I was also learning to trust her and her me. I have to trust her. Her back is taller than I am and I was sitting up there. At one point I did adjust my leg, my right leg was not in position like it should be. I lifted my foot up and out to the side. Doing so, the stirrup leather 'popped' out from between the billets and slapped the saddle flap. She jumped forward, crowhopped twice and stopped again. "I told her that was unexpected and uncalled for." That was that. We trotted around a bit more, went the other direction and called it good.

For all of that, I am paying the price today. I might be riding my bicycle and logged almost 4 hours on it since the last time I accidentally reset the computer gadget, but my quads are aching today. The outside of my ankles, throb at times from keeping my heels down. Although I didn't think I used a lot of leg on her- my inner thighs beg to differ. My lower back- yeah we won't go there and before I even got on her, my shoulders cramped up in a way they have never done before. This is not what riding is about! WTH?  I guess I need to get my butt in the saddle more often...  :)  Maybe then I can wipe the grin off my face or it will become more permanent with each ride. Time will tell.