Last weekend when I rode Aruba, I moved out to the front pasture where I typically drive Kat and also where the neighbors cattle are turned out. She handled the horsepark well enough, but obviously she needs to go there more often and learn that she is still to work and listen to her rider- no matter where we are, where we go, if we are alone, other horses around, etc.
What I didn't mention about out trip to the horsepark was that the brakes on my truck were starting to fail on me. I'm not one to drive like a maniac with a trailer behind me, be it full or empty, but I noticed my pedal was a little 'squishy'. Everything went well enough and the brakes held out for me until Monday morning. Starting out on the way to work, I kept thinking "I need to check the fluid levels" but as many of us do, I figured I would do it later.
Well later turned into "Much Sooner" as in "NOW" when I approached a light before the freeway and had n.o.t.h.i.n.g. Foot and pedal to the floor and the truck was still not stopping. Luckily I was far enough back that I had room to work with. I got the truck stopped at the light, but it was a challenge. Turns out the master cylinder leaked into something or other and I knew it wasn't something I could fix at home so the truck got to spend another few days back in the shop. It is good to have friends!
Back to riding, Aruba worked fairly decent in the front pasture. She was alert and kept looking around, but what bothered her for the most part was the foxtails. These are a weed that has a bloom if you can call it that, that sorta looks like wheat. Problem is, this is the seed and they stick in Everything. This year, they are everywhere and foxtails can be a chore to get rid of. Since I had wrapped her legs in polos- they were loaded.
We worked on bending and flexing, giving and releasing, but mostly what was missing was a steady rhythm. At the trot there were places in the pasture where she sped up, places where she tried to stop and places where she though trying to crophop and get goofy on me might make me give up. No giving up and she got straightened out in that respect and a stern "Knock it off!" was all it took for her to ditch that idea before trying it again.
Our workout was less than stellar and I am finding that when this mare is in heat, it is more constructive/productive to just stick to ground work. As a former broodmare now going back to work, let alone using muscles she probably hasn't before and if so, not for a long time, I can give her that. I know where she's coming from in that respect.
As we finished up I moved her to the one corner of the pasture and we did some hill work. There are several mounds of manure/fertilizer to be spread out over the pasture, so we went up, across and down the other side. The we zig zagged our way back and forth across the mound from one end to the other. We trotted back across, went down the side, made a U-turn, back up the hill, part way across, down the left side, trotted around the end, up the other side and back across the top... I changed things up and kept her guessing which way, where, up or down and what next?
By the time we finished our hill work, she was light in the bridle, moving off my leg and incredibly responsive. So responsive in fact that when I would ask for a turn to the right, she was rocking back on her butt and giving me some nice rollbacks and ready to go the other direction as quick as I might ask. We walked around some to let her cool out and the cows were slowly moving in on our work space so it was time to stop.
I would have let her move the cows around, but a few of them, Layla & Red especially, are pretty large and can be uncooprative. To get to the smaller, quieter cows, I would have to get past them. If we were going to play with the cows and let Aruba track them- even if at a walk- I want it all to go smooth and well, being a positive experience for her. With Layla and Red involved, it just wasn't worth the risk. Maybe some other day.
I am still trying to load the pictures from the beginning of May, so everyone can see them, and the plan for this weekend is to put her back in the western tack, use the boots instead of polos and ride her up front again. Hopefully I can get some pictures of her out there working, hopefully still, some more pics with me ON her and things going like they should. For now we will see how it goes.