This past Saturday, I spent mostly up at the barn and late in the afternoon, I got to ride Kieran. Soon enough, we'll be well into "crappy weather" season meaning if I want to ride, I'll practically have to only ride in the ring. So, to stave off the day when Kieran gets completely fed up with riding in there (and believe you me, we try to come up with a little something different to do with him for every lesson so he doesn't get bored and sour of working in there), we went for a hack around the farm. Which was something I haven't really gotten to do in a while since up until recently, I had no free weekends to go hang out at the barn and ride and it would be too late in the day on the weeknights when I got there.
Now, the last time before this that I'd ridden him alone around the farm, he was pretty insecure about the whole thing. Nervous to walk down behind the ring toward the hay barn, nervous to go up the hill toward the trail entrance. Whinnying for his friends every few minutes. He didn't do anything bad, but he was definitely reluctant.
Not on Saturday!
First we rode up the driveway toward the mailbox, just moseying along so I could get a feel for how he was doing. Then we walked back up the driveway toward the house and along the fence toward the trail entrance. Still fine, even with the horses in the field over there watching very intently. There's an open, relatively flat, spot up there, so we did some 20 meter circles at the trot.
Then I looked over at the woods and the entrance to the trail and figured "what the hell?" and rode him in. He was really ready to go, walking forward and paying attention and not at all worried that we'd left his friends behind. Even when we scared a herd of deer into running off through the woods, he just stood and watched them go by.
We didn't do the whole trail, just down the hill, across the creek (dry right now), and down to where it usually gets kind of mucky and I always have to wander around till I pick up the trail again. Didn't want to go all the way through because we'd end up down behind the hay barn near the round pen where Mattie is being kept and then she'd get herself all worked up (had surgery, can't be running around and whinnying but wigs out too much if she's kept all the time in a stall, so the round pen during the day is a good compromise). So we just turned around and followed our tracks back except, after you cross the creek again, instead of going around and up the hill, you can go straight up it. So Kieran and I cantered up it. He even cantered smoothly over a low log in the way (I saw it coming, was thinking "crap, I should probably slow him down...except he's going to end up cantering right over it and he's done poles in the ring before..." and indeed, that's what he did). It was such a nice canter, too.
After that, we walked down the driveway again to the mailbox, then came back up the driveway at a trot (and a bit of canter up the hill part [the driveway isn't paved]). Did some more trot circles up in the flat area then went around to the other side of the house and went about halfway down the hill over there (again, didn't want to go too far down and either get all the horses in the field riled up or set Mattie off) and trotted back up.
That was mostly it. We also went back into the ring (I closed the ring gate from horseback ;) ) and did some cantering both ways and continued to work on going deep into the corners. Then we just cooled out by walking and did lots of turns instead of just going around at the rail.
It was a very good ride.
And on Sunday, I had my lesson and for a while there...it wasn't so good. Because we were back to diving into the ring (mostly when trying to do those twenty meter circles) and stuff. I was getting frustrated Kieran was getting frustrated because I was getting frustrated, etc. So our instructor got on him so she could feel what I was complaining about. She didn't have nearly as much trouble, but she did say he felt really stiff through his neck.
The verdict on the sticking-nose-out-diving-into-the-middle-of-the-ring issue? I'm grabbing and holding too much with the outside rein and if I'd just let go a bit and give and release with that rein (or even just think of kind of wiggling my hand), he doesn't feel the need to brace against my hand (hence, diving in when given an opening, to get away from the pressure). I feel like a dumbass, but the lesson got much better after I became aware of what I was doing and started focusing on not just holding on with the outside rein (which, I knew I was doing to an extent, because I felt like I "had to" to keep him from diving in...but I was just perpetuating the issue).
And, there we go and there you have it.
No riding pics from his weekend, but here's a picture of the pony in his field.
*tap tap* Is this thing on?
9 months ago