Monday, June 22, 2015

Oh hey there

Did I let a whole week slip by without writing anything?  Whoops.  Let's just say I was giving the excitement that was OTB's engagement its full due and wanted it to be the top post here for a week. Yeah, that's it.

Actually, I had one of those awful summer head colds, so all my rides were totally lackluster and literally nothing to write home about.  We basically just muddled through for a week, with a combination of lunging and short rides.  I did however have two awesome rides this past weekend, so perhaps I was rewarded for giving the pony a week of not too taxing work.


On Saturday, we focused on the things we are working toward in our dressage riding.  We worked on our walk pirouettes, which I think are coming right along.  We worked on our rein back, which is nowhere near consistent or correct yet, but improving.  We worked on walk-halt-walk, trot-halt-trot, and trot-halt-canter, which were not perfect, but overall improved his balance and connection and adjustability, so when I moved on to working on our transitions within the gait at the canter, it went better overall too.

We are still trying to sort out the working-to-collected canter.  More often than not, my aids are misinterpreted by a certain large brown animal as a request for trot.  The good news is, however, he's starting to actually think, and sometimes I get a few steps of honest to goodness collection without being terribly crooked and without breaking.  It was kind of hard to convince him after collecting to then lengthen his stride (I swear I could hear his thoughts: MAKE UP YOUR MIND LADY), but he did it, and was much straighter, and I think we are starting to show an actual transition from lengthened to working canter.

And (this is huge for Tucker), I'm starting to be able to actually use my dressage whip to back up my aids. Meaning, he's responding appropriately to the whip instead of having a panic attack for several seconds and then going to back to being not forward. This may sound absurd (I frequently do), but I'm trying to make the connection "tap with whip" and "go forward" in the Tucker-brain with a little growl as I use it.  It dawned on me that he is very clear about going forward from a growl, but still has an "OMG why'd you hit me??" reaction to the whip. So now I give a little tap in conjunction with growling something like "get" at him, which makes me sound slightly insane to those riding along with me (sorry guys) but actually appears to be working.  On Saturday I was able to use my whip with no sound effects and he actually kept cantering instead of breaking and didn't even panic about it.  You know like a real horse.


On Sunday, I wanted to give him a break from dressage, so we put on our jump tack and I set up a little course.  Just four little fences, a cross rail on one quarter line, two little verticals on the diagonals, and a slightly taller vertical (and I do mean slightly, it was no bigger than 2'6") with a placement rail nine feet away for take off and landing, as a tune-up for my eye.

After we warmed up a little I trotted back and forth over the x, and when he landed with a lovely rhythmical canter I thought I'd just keep going to the diagonal, and from there we just kept jumping around the rest, eight fences in a row, so we jumped everything in both directions.  I rode each fence with a very soft, almost loopy rein, and his canter rhythm never changed, and he never missed (he has the best eye of any horse I've ever ridden).  All I had to do was remember to pull my shoulders back to the fences that were slightly downhill.  We took a walk break and I repeated the pattern, just to be sure it wasn't a fluke.  Perfection.

We even have lead changes now, which were never reliable before we started doing dressage and getting him stronger behind.  They are hunter changes, not dressage changes, but for now I don't care. I landed on the wrong lead and thought, well let's see what he does, asked before the corner with a little feel of his mouth and outside leg, and he just did his change and kept right on going like no big deal.  Happened a few more times, both directions, no fuss.  If I were braver I would totally go do a derby on him again.  (I haven't ruled it out as a possibility for the future, but it still makes me nervous because I'm a wimp.)


Both of these rides left me with a feeling of complete, overwhelming gratitude.  It felt like no matter what I asked of him, Tucker was happy to try to do exactly what I wanted.  Sometimes I can't wrap my head around how lucky I've gotten with this horse.  He is such a good boy, I just love seeing how smart he is and how hard he tries.  (Sorry, I'm gushing again.  But look at that face!)  I do not take a day with him for granted.  Speaking of, if you haven't already, please go show Lauren some love.  My heart is just breaking for her right now.

4 comments:

  1. Oh hey back! I've been fighting a summer cold too, miserable!!! Hope you're feeling loads better. Tucker is the best poneh ever <3

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  2. Glad you are back! Sounds like you had some great rides! I'm totally rooting for you to do the Derby :) Tucker really is a gem!

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  3. Summer colds are the worst!!!

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  4. Tucker sounds like such a hero :)

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