Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Week of Riding

Tonight I am sitting here in front of a fire, relaxing on the couch, having a cup of tea to soothe away the muscle fatigue that always comes with the first few rides of the year.  I am relishing my day, actually my week. I have ridden Maggie every night this week . In one week of concerted effort at tuning back into my horse, I have learned so much about her and myself. This has been a great time to revisit all those little training holes  that I skimmed over last year in pursuit of conditioning. 

Each evening I came home , smelling like  a spring time barn. Eau De Barn...

Every night it the same questions "Well, how did she do tonight?" from the patient husband whp often ends having to plan and cook dinner so his wife can have her horse fix. It's been so nice to have a place to go to work my horse .  Some nights I came home frustrated because it felt like we just revisit the same things over and over and never really get anywhere. It's hard to see the forest for the trees but I know I am asking more from Maggie now, searching for a higher level of feel , softness , balance and rhythym.  Other nights , I came home riding on a cloud. It's those times when she is the loveliest mare to be had. When all these years of asking for these things come together for a few moments and it sticks. She is supple, attentive and calm.Asking her to pay closer attention and not just go forward. It's been challenging but very fun to work on subtlety and timing in Maggie's training.

How subtle can I ask for that front end to come over in a roll back. A shift of a seat bone, a wiggle of a finger all timed perfectly. How little does it take to ask for her to back up correctly with weight on the haunches and light as a feather in my hands. Can we do a 20 meter circle and keep our momentum and not fall to the inside shoulder? Can I make the rein mean something to the feet. Can I walk along and just pick up the right rein and have her take a step to the right? Maybe , just maybe walk along and knock down those little orange cones with that right foot as we go along.

All these things.. so many things to fine tune and work on. It's been really nice but it's going to take time to get there.

 Maggie is not fond of the indoor arena. It makes her nervous and unsure. It's noisy and echoes. With all the snow and ice melting away, it makes strange sounds. There is a lot of activity with lessons and other boarders trying to work their horses. It's a small arena. It gets congested easily.  Maggie's focus is often fleeting , and she is hyper reactive to the any other horse in the arena. It's a work in progress. The exposure is good for her  and I hope in time she will come to accept it.

Today we took a break from the arena.

All ready to go

I LOVE THE VIEW FROM HERE~ I think I recognize those trees...

It was first time this year the mercury was expected to reach  into the 50's. I opted to take advantage of it and head out to the trails with Maggie. We rode throguh two big hay fields and made our way into the woods. As soon as we headed out I could almost feel her whole body relax .  She was an absolute dream. Not once did she get rushy,  not even on the way home.We had to maneuver several icey spots and she was extremely cautious.  Compared to how she had been in the arena , it was such a nice break to be back out in what is clearly her comfort zone.

We even curled a hair or two and never broke a slow easy walk.

I had brought along some soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets for an after ride treat. She  dove into it and then acted like she was really tired. I guess she had been worked 6 days in a row , even though it was all pretty slow easy work she has been sitting idle since November.

She will get the next two days off.

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