Monday, January 17, 2011

Woo, trails!

Okay, so it was grey.

And cold.

And there's still some white stuff sticking to the ground.

But who cares? We went on a trail ride!

Well, we being me and Kieran. And the trail being the woods at the back of the farm. Hah. First, though, we had to work on mounting.

And I don't know if it's all the work we've been doing with stretching or the fact that I was using a different saddle today (and yesterday) that meant that Kieran didn't even look sideways at me today when girthing. Good sign? I certainly hope so.

Anyway, we got all tacked up and I took him into the ring, my pockets full of treats. My idea was to stand him next to the mounting block and if he stood for more than a second, he got a treat. If he tried to move off, I sent him off at a brisk trot (reins tied up and secured so he couldn't get caught up in them) then asked him to whoa near the block and started the whole process over.

Had to send him off once before he'd stand quietly at the block (without me standing on it). Then had to do it a couple more times before he stood quietly with me standing on the block and then I finally was able to get in the saddle. He proceeded to continue standing nicely while I fiddled with stirrups and suchlike. Here's hoping the lesson sticks in his little horsey head (but if not, we'll just do it again).

Basically, it's too much effort for me to fight with him about standing and continually following him with the mounting block until I manage to get him to hold still just long enough so I can throw myself into the saddle (and I'm sure that last thing isn't helping his attitude about the block). It's simpler to send him off and then let him relax by the block and like yesterday's lesson shows, he understands that sort of arrangement.

Anyway, once I was in the saddle and settled, we left the arena and went walking up the driveway one direction, then came back up the other way at a trot and continued on up into the woods. In there, we made a few loops that allowed us to canter up this one hill that has a (small) log partway up. He hopped over it pretty well the first time. The last time I think he actually landed a foot on it and continued going (*sigh*).

We also just wandered the woods and I made sure to go check out one section of trail where I knew a washout had happened and try to see if there was an easy way to avoid that so we could just re-route the trail. Didn't seem to be, so now there's this ditch in the middle of the trail. (there was always a bit of one, but last year it got really deep and it's not step-overable any more). Possibly, if the trail had been clear of snow, I'd have asked Kieran to go over it, but as it was, it was pretty visually deceptive about how firm the footing was (there were sticks in the ditch, and with snow over them, it looked relatively solid, but I knew it wasn't). So we just turned around.

No big deal, plenty more places to ride. I even let him paw in the stream some.

After riding around and doing lots of trail-trotting (and a nice hop over another log that I didn't anticipate, hah! I thought he'd just trot over) in the spots I knew were relatively clear/even/smooth and a couple more short uphill canters, we went and rode in the ring.

He was noticeably better today about riding on the rail and we also did some work trotting over the poles (several were still out in approximately the same place as yesterday) and some more cantering and short canter transitions (turning at a corner and asking him to canter across the diagonal before coming back down to a trot).

To cool out, we did some walking on a loose rein and then I hopped off and gave the borrowed saddle over so someone else could ride and I led him around the outside of the barn and riding ring before coming back into the arena and doing some more walking in there.

When he was cool and not breathing hard (but still damp, bleh), I took him in and gave him a good grooming and some quality time with his new toy: a handheld massage thingy that vibrates (I got it actually to get him to associate the buzzing sound and the vibrations with something good so that when we go back to working with clippers, maybe they won't wig him out so much).

All in all, a good horsey day.

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