It's a long story that I don't feel like typing up tonight but, basically, this was the horse I had as a kid and the colt she foaled. I came across these pictures and figured I'd share. Click on them to make them bigger.
Okay, so the other day, we decided to ask Kieran for a canter again. You might remember that a while back (at least a month ago, maybe a month and a half) we decided to back off of asking for a canter because he didn't really seem to be ready yet.
Now, I won't say what he did was beautiful and it did take a couple tries, but it was still much easier for him (and me!) to get it when we did and he did give me a nice, balanced, slow canter. Good boy!
Then last night, Christine showed me how to ground drive him and he took to that like he'd been doing it his entire life. Eventually, I would like her to help me teach him to actually drive, if only so he has another "life skill" in his repertoire.
And tonight was my actual lesson. Christina asked me what I wanted to work on and I said I wanted to work on the movement from the Intro B test where you go from like, K -> X -> H (instead of all the way across the diagonal) or F -> X -> M. So we did that at a walk and a trot till it started to look like he was anticipating the turns. Mostly to get me focusing on when and where I need to cue for the turn and get him doing it more snappily. I have a habit of cueing too early, especially at K for some reason (for a lot of things, I don't know what it is about that particular corner). We did a bit of free walk, which was much better than before. And I also said I wanted to work on transitions with him because while he slows/stops with the best of them, generally, getting those upward transitions isn't as easy. One thing that was a bit difficult for me was when Christina had me trot in to a corner (Say...F) and make the turn as if I'm going across the diagonal but do that at a free walk. So I would want to cue for the walk after he finished turning but for what she was wanting to see me do, that was too late and he'd be a couple of strides into the diagonal before downshifting. So the idea was more that I needed to half halt about the time his nose got to the letter, start turning, and when his shoulder is passing it then ask for a walk.
And then I said wanted to canter again. I won't say it's pretty, because it isn't, and I still need to remember he needs more rein going into the canter than a horse that's already schooled for it (but recent lessons on the lunge and exercises where I have to drop the reins have helped me feel better about giving more to him so he can move up to that gait) but we got a few strides twice going each direction and not as much of the fast choppy trot as before. Christina said that we can work on keeping him in the canter later anyway, the important thing now is to get across to him the cue for it so he picks it up more reliably. :)
All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how he's progressing.
He was also much more attentive to my leg tonight (as far as listening when I push him back toward the rail) so that's cool too.
I'm also planning on taking dressage lessons with a local dressage instructor once or twice a month on one of her horses. I think it'll help me both to get someone else's perspective on my riding, and to be able to learn some of this stuff on a horse that already knows what it's doing so I know how it's supposed to feel when Kieran does it right. :)
I'm currently on a search for a Western saddle for Kieran, as I've mentioned before. I have found a Western saddle that actually fits him, so I don't have to go treeless. Unfortunately, that particular saddle belongs to a friend of mine (and I'm kicking myself because I'm the one who pointed it out to her, LOL). So I've been looking at similar ones online everywhere. Obsessively.
Also kicking myself because I saw exactly what I wanted on Ebay last week but dithered and while I was dithering, someone did Buy It Now and got it. Hah!
So since then, I've been in contact with various people regarding their saddles posted for sale. One person didn't want to use paypal (which makes me kinda nervous, what if I send payment and they never send the saddle? At least with paypal I might be able to get my money back).
Anyhow, someone else had the saddle listed for a bit more than I'd seen it elsewhere in my searches. I mean, obviously not as much as it would cost new, but more than I'd seen it listed for used. So I asked them if they were at all flexible on price and then they asked me how much lower, I quoted something closer to the price range I'd seen it sell for (a bit lower than I actually expected us to settle on) and they contacted me back with, "thanks but no thanks" and I'm sorta like, "what? no counteroffer?"
Was that silly of me to expect? They wanted $475 for the saddle (which is more than I really want to spend. I mean, I've seen older versions of the same brand of saddle go for $300 and less and the newer ones to go for about $400). I offered $400 including shipping, expecting maybe they'd go for $400 PLUS shipping. That sounded reasonable to me. Apparently not to them. No big deal, I'm not in any hurry and I'm willing to wait for the "right" saddle to show up. :)
We rode around the farm yesterday and then came into the ring for a short session. Did some free-walking across the diagonal and worked really hard to remember to have him straight before I give him the reins and then focus on exactly where I want to go and it was much better.
Also did 20 m circles at B and E and they were much better as well. Could be because we were alone in there, could be because he'd had time to absorb what I was asking of him, could be because I was asking more clearly. Whatever the reason, I'll take it!
Also, some friends of mine came to take pictures of us riding outside on Saturday (one of the few times I've ridden without a helmet! I felt naked, but safe on him. ;) ) so hopefully soon I'll have some nice pictures to share.
Yeah, so the Western saddle in the last post definitely won't fit Kieran. Too tight over his shoulders. I mean, he rides okay in it, but I'm sure if I did anything long with him, it wouldn't work and as nice of a saddle as it is for the price I got it at, it's not worth making him sore just to have a Western saddle.
Anyway, no big deal, Christine wanted it so we worked something out and I am not out any money. But now I need to find a saddle. I was tempted to just buy a new Simco draft saddle but if it didn't work for some reason, I'm not sure I could sell it so easily and I definitely wouldn't be able to get my money back.
I think I might go back to my original idea of a treeless. I really like the look of the Barefoot Atlanta and I've ridden him in a treeless saddle before and did just fine.
So I was looking up local schooling shows in the area and came across one later in the month that will be doing (among others) the USDF intro tests A&B. This, we can do. We are nowhere near read to do a test with cantering (ahahahahaha). So I mentioned it to my instructor and she was like, "oh yes, we can do this, I'll print out the tests and we can look at them tonight!".
So we did!
She called out the movements and had us do them (only went through each test once or twice fully, other than that it was just practicing the individual movements.) Discovered a few things:
1. Not only do I have to make my aids stronger than I should, the fact that Kieran is white in the barrel area and my feet and legs are not makes it that much more obvious.
2. We need to do a lot of work on actually round circles (we were especially flat on one side of the circle going a particular direction. Not sure if it's something about the ring, something about his fitness, or I just wasn't using enough inside leg).
3. We need to work on free walk. Typically it isn't something I do when I ride, really. And right now I still have to have some contact to the reins to keep him from drifting inward (not sure if he'd still drift inward if the ring was empty. He might've only been doing it because Christina was standing in there).
Anyway, with school classes for me being over (yay! Can't wait for the shiny "you graduated!" piece of paper!) I have quite a bit more free time on the weeknights so I should be able to actually get up there more than once or twice a week (God willing.) which is what I had intended to do in the first place but...life happened.
Also, last week I bought the pony a Western saddle. Still deciding if it actually fits proper. People online seem to generally agree they think it's too tight. People in real life think I should ride in it some more first to really be able to tell (sweat marks).