Monday, February 8, 2016

Spring is here!

Or so it feels like. As such, I thought it would be a lovely day for a hack yesterday. As I was doing poo chores in the dry lot while the horses were eating breakfast, everyone was so happy and mellow and the sun was shining, that I thought, "trail ride day!"

My plan was actually to ride Mac on the loop I have on the back of the property, but when I went to the gate to call him, the pony came up instead. Since she was eager and willing to come out of the pasture, I put her halter on and headed to the barn to tack her up.

Colin was stacking hay in the barn and she was not one bit bothered by that. I tacked her up and everything was fine. Did a little ground work ahead of time, but I thought I'd try skipping the lunging and long-lining and just hop on for a short little ride.


This was the first time I rode with the horses in this configuration. Usually if I'm going to ride in the morning I feed everyone breakfast in their stall/paddocks, then ride, then turn everyone out together. But they were already out together and the pony decided that rather than ride she'd like to go back to her boys, please.

Um, no. It doesn't work like that.

She was fussy about the mounting block. She wanted to go to the gate so she could look outside and see the boys. But I persevered and finally got her to stand quietly at the block. With her, a little bit of discipline (a growl or making her feet move) combined with a LOT of praise and good girls and soft strokes on the neck work better than getting after her. That would not work for her. So once I got her standing quietly, I got on.

Steering went out the window.

All steering was me trying to get her to not bulge toward the gate. We did lots of figure 8s and serpentines and changes of direction. I offered her a chance to rest away from the gate but she wanted to go to the gate, so we did, but she had to work while she was down there (and by work I mean try to have some semblance of a circle/steering and just doing what I asked versus bulging this way and that and wandering around willy nilly). She seemed to have energy to spare, so we did a lot of trotting. It looks like her evasion will be to tuck her chin, so I put a stop to that whenever she did. She'd tuck, we'd come down to a walk and walk forward and circle or move off the leg or something else, then trot. Another tuck, another change of exercise. She's very smart so it only took a couple times for her to give that up and then we could have a nice trot on a light rein and feel more loose in the body.

I had to take what I could get. Keeping in mind she's still not yet four, I can't expect too much from her. So when I was able to get a nice trot with decent bend and no curling behind the bit, we called it quits.

She had a nice roll, and I thought I'd take her for a trail walk in-hand since we didn't go for a trail ride. Seemed like a good idea and a nice day for it, but then the boys decided to go nuts calling for her and running the fence line. If that wasn't bad enough, the dogs (on the other side of the fence) thought it would be fun to bark and chase the horses along the fence line. Pony did as well as she could to hold it together. I would stop every now and then to mellow out .... she does that well (versus Paddy, who would just start piaffing), so we stopped maybe 10 times or so to get her wits about her. Then we had a nice quiet walk back.

So much for my mellow hack down the trails!

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