Sometimes, the absolute best thing you can do, is sleep in, have a huge breakfast, wander about in your pj's for awhile as you thumb through the latest mail-out from your favorite tackstore and opt for a long snuggle on the couch with man and beast.
Because, by the time you get your barn pants on (H, you didn't notice the row of stitching up the back, where these pants had exploded on me *just* before I went to meet the ADM one morning...not so nice pants!), and by the time you manage to roll into the driveway of your boy's new home, things would have started to settle down.
The BF tagged along, the promise of a quad ride peaking his interest. I'd half convinced him to saddle up over breakfast, but I think my luck will only come when I surround the ring with smudges and send everyone home : P Boys.
We met H and the little one, and headed out to the back hayshed to start filling slow feeders. I don't know how she does it, 8 months pregnant and all. The ponies were behaving themselves a lot better, though the mare was still winking her tail off at Moon, Moon was still to avoid her like a pre-teen boy at a sockhop, and the Black was settling for making faces.
Their first group grain feeding together went surprisingly well. Moon tried to stuff his face into H's bucket suddenly caring more about his appetite then the big black horse. Who oddly enough, didn't even seem all that concerned with the whole thing. Amazing what one mare in season will do to a male's head!
H made some quick moves and somehow managed to get Moon off out of the other two's way, had those two both in their appropriate buckets and then Moon stood nicely while I walked his tub over too.
And everyone ate happily.
We filled the hay bags and opted to just put three out instead of four. They weren't really eating out of more then three anyway, and seemed to be working out some sort of strange system where the mare and black ate together and Moon ate at whatever bale was furthest away : P He's such a wienie.
It was weird, the way when we put the first bale out, Moon was eating it all alone and the other two had zero interest. Instead, the Black wandered over to us to wait for another one to come out. I wouldn't be surprised if we're down to two feeders before the end of the week.
Moon was muddy, the fences were all still upright, the wires attached and there was no serious injuries over night to any of the horses. Score!
Since the BF wasn't in a riding mood (I loved when H suggested he trail ride Moon while I rode the Black! I probably looked like a 5 year old wanting a pony ride at the fair!), we petted Moon, cleaned up and headed off for our quad ride.
I concede, I figured we both needed a day off work! Tomorrow we'll start getting back into our routine of dressage schooling, maybe try to work on some patterns for our kur AND if the weather is nice and I'm crazy enough, I may try to bathe and clip his fetlocks : O That, or Wednesday after the farrier. : O
And did I mention I also won a $25 gift certificate to a tack store?? : ) Shopping!!
Tuesday no surprised was a busy day and after buying gas (thank you provincial government for the 3.5 cent "gas tax" I now get to enjoy...I miss America), standing in a VERY busy bank waiting to sign off on some IRC paperwork (don't get me started on how irritated THAT process made me!), driving home to a sick BF, going BACK to the store to spoil the BF with the special soup he wanted for supper, feeding him, the dog and putting away the groceries and tidying the house, when the phone rang it was nearly 7 pm and I was *just* starting to pull on my barn pants.
It was H, wondering if I'd still be out that evening, since it had been raining off and on throughout the day. Except the skies had finally cleared (well, kinda) and I was going whether it was raining or not! Which was perfect, as she was able to head to the park with hubby and munchkin. : ) Which made me feel twice as good!
It was nice to pull in the driveway and not see horses chasing each other around. I fed everyone their suppers which was rather uneventful. Other then the fact I think my horse is a slow eater... : P
I got to stuff my first hockey net slow feeders solo...which was interesting to say the least. Yes, one bale exploded on me and I was left stuffing it flake by flake. Whoops! I did manage to get the next one to work properly. There's something enjoyable about being able to feed your horse. Knowing that he's relying on you. : ) I liked watching each horse come and stick their nose into the run-in to see how my hay-stuffing progress was going!
Once everyone was fed, I grabbed Moon and took him up to the tie-rack to start cleaning him up. Boy, was he dirty! He's not normally an uber clean horse (I'm looking at you Lilly!), but he's normally kinda clean. Not today.
The recent rain probably didn't help, and that coupled with his new exercise routine (the Black free lunges him multiple times a day...funny, he gets the correct leads!) that leaves him sweaty, I guess it was just too much to resist a good roll.
I brushed and brushed and scraped and brushed some more. I didn't stand a chance at getting the wet bits of mud off, but when I finished he finally looked like a half-decent little pony again! Not so wild and crazy.
The only unfortunate bit was another cut on his back, almost exactly opposite from the one we found on Monday. RIGHT where the panels for the saddle would rest. This one had a nice flap of skin hanging off of it, so I cleaned it up and sprayed it with my first love, Blue Wound Spray. : P
After my late start, feeding, haying and grooming my dirty pony, it was nearly sunset when I was ready to start tacking. And since I A. Didn't want to waste the fading light on tacking and B. Didn't want to irritate his cuts with a saddle (he flinched when I touched near the new one, which is how I noticed it under all that mud), I decided, to hell with the saddle!
Yup. 4 days at a new place and I was going bareback. It *may* sound crazy if you didn't already know that Moon is an easy ride to begin with, and is still pretty tired from all the hard work of lunging around the ring.
We had some issues getting him to figure out the new mounting block, but once he had it I was on and we were off.
Walked and trotted and had a lot of problems getting him to soften and get his head down. His leg yielding was good, but still not soft.
The new arena footing is a lot deeper then W's place, which is nice but also requires him to have more action in his movements and lift his feet higher. Needless to say, a lot of hard work for tired pony.
After a couple of laps around I decided to take advantage of his lack of energy. Canter.
Yup. Because he wouldn't get so excited that he'd want to gallop, but rather just give me a nice soft canter to get it over with.
I really tried to think about everything Trix had told me at her clinic. And about the last couple of months of working on Moon's canter.
I can't pinpoint what wasn't working in my methods, but they weren't. I think it was a combo of things, such as:
1) Trying to get it *perfect* every time. I was trying to get him to understand too many things at once, instead of breaking it down.
2) Cuing with my outside leg. In2Paints left a comment that she cues only with her outside leg and the more I think about it, I'm pretty darn sure that's exactly how I was taught over the years; when I checked my dressage training book yesterday, it also said that the sweeping action of your outside leg back is what cues the horse. But is that what Moon knows?...
3) Caring too much about correct leads, before we've even established the aid to strike off.
4) Not fully utilizing our half-halts as preparation for canter.
5) Not giving Moon the time and practice he needs to understand.
Okay, so it's a lot. It really is. Add in my tendency to lean forward and grip like the devil with my thighs/knees, it's been a disaster.
Yesterday, sitting on him bareback in a new riding ring, I though of everything Trix told me. I slowed his trot so I could sit it without him hollowing and bouncing me everywhere, I thought "walk", brought my outside leg back and then gave a little squeeze with my inside leg.
He struck off.
We'll ignore leads. I was focusing ONLY on canter departs. So I only let him canter a few strides before going back to trot (and yes, I nearly bounced right off him a couple times. Thank the horse-lords for high withers!).
And canter again.
We didn't always get it. But the more I did it, I could see that he was cluing into what I wanted when I did it. AND it wasn't the movement of my outside leg that cue'd him. It WAS that inside squeeze.
Which was kinda nice, because I felt like I could really take my time to prepare.
We did, ? , 6 good canter departs on cue (maybe more?)? Without rushing through the trot. It was far from perfect, but it felt like a great first step towards achieving canter.
Like we'd finally started establishing how I'd ask for it. And once we solidify that, we can start working on things like leads or rhythm.
Unfortunately, he was breathing a bit hard and sweaty (he was breathing a bit quick even coming in from the field since he'd done a couple of canter circles out there too), so I figured we'd stop for the night. And hey, the daylight was pretty much gone too!
And mosquitoes have come out. : (
I untacked him, groomed him off and fed him some treats. As we walked back to the paddock and I let him stop to hand graze here and there, I realized something.
Our canter practice was in his BAD direction! I've only managed 6 canters on that side in W's arena the WHOLE time we rode there! : O