Sunday, May 3, 2015

Back in the Saddle

Since the Vet had given us the "all clear" for riding, I could hardly wait to get back on my mare. Unfortunately, the rain and high winds made that an unlikely possibility until Friday morning - the sun had finally decided to come out to play. Game on.

However, as fate would have it, I didn't end up riding my mare. Instead, my nephew went for a pony ride and Suzie begrudgingly played babysitter. It was a very light, low impact task (given the nature of pony rides), but it was also great to spend time with my sister and her children, as they are moving mid-June. I figured I could give up one ride for the happiness of a little kid (who ended up crying when he was told they had to leave). I didn't mind - it was good fun and Calder enjoys riding "his" pony. Not many kids get the opportunity to ride horses outside of Canada Day pony rides, so I am grateful I can share something so special with my relatives.

Horribly awkward photo of Suzie (who was stepping forwards) and Calder.
The saddle pad is long because it is her Western BOT pad.

Saturday was a different story; I intended to ride, come hell or high water! A friend and I arranged to meet and both of us would be ponying another horse (I'd be bringing Spud, obviously). Initially, Suzie felt a bit stiffer than normal, but I let her poke along and didn't interfere too much with the reins. We trail rode the 20 minutes to the Fairgrounds and upon arriving, I tied Spud to the fence and took Suzie into the arena to ride since it was drier than it had been the previous weeks.

We worked a lot on stretching and suppling her around my leg - worked a fair amount on counter-bend and correct bend on the straight as well as circling. A fair bit of haunches in and out was used, although she has a harder time with haunches in to the right. She tried and that is what counted the most.

I didn't want to incorporate too many circles in our exercises so everything was quite exaggerated and much larger than 20 meters. At first she was concerned with where Spud was since he was whinnying at her, but after we worked thru some bend and change of direction a few times, she settled into her work nicely. I think having the distraction of Spud is a good idea and I'd like to incorporate it into our schooling in the future.

Midget pony standing on my mounting
 I didn't want to do anything more than walk and jog, so we worked on her halt a bit. I'd sit deep and ask her to halt and if the halt didn't come right away she was backed up a few paces. The same went for if she halted and decided to step forwards one or two more steps. Once I corrected her she put her game face back on and started to stop properly. Part of it is complacency on her part and a lot of it is complacency on my part. Better stops start here, mare Cathryn.

Going into the jog I wanted to just focus on getting a steady rhythm and establishing some bend. I had no desire to really work on her lowering her head or having perfect circles. At first she had some speedy moments but I remembered to sit deep to bring her back and a few times she dropped down to a walk (oops! sometimes I forget she has all the "buttons") so I had to do some fine tuning of my riding to regulate how much/ how hard I asked for her to slow down as well as how much leg to back up my seat. The bend was so much easier for her after we worked through the exercises at a walk and really established some suppleness - very happy and very glad my good friend over in the US sent me those tips (thank you Lindsay)!

We had some AMAZING moments where she felt like putty in my hands and although it was only for 15-20 strides, I am tickled to know that it's there! She HAS it. Going through the corners she tends to speed up to get her balance around them, and I have to remember to support her with my outside leg and prepare her before we turn or else she just falls. But overall she was wonderful - had a very, very quiet jog and even lowered her head down on her own accord. She felt like a Western Pleasure horse and as I jogged around I said to my friend, "Wow... I don't want to stop." THAT is what riding is. That is why we do what we do - even if it is for 15-20 strides at a time. Suzie-mare got lots of pats and love and we ended it there. I didn't want to push the envelope and at the same time wanted to reward her for her good behavior and quality of her work (it isn't all about quantity).

He looks fat, but still has about 3' worth of hair!
 Suz was tied and I took Spud out to the middle of the arena to lunge. I warned my friend that "We aren't quite so good at this yet!" but instead of being naughty, he wowed me by being SUCH A GOOD BOY! He listened to every request I had and although he wasn't perfect, he didn't yank the lines out of my hands, take off trotting, or refuse to stop trotting. My friend commented how well he was behaving for a horse who has barely been taught to lunge. I beamed a little! Good boy!

We trail rode the long way home and both horses were well behaved, save for one moment Suzie wanted to go home and tried to speed walk down the street. It didn't take much to bring her back and plod along on a loose rein.

So overall I am pleased with both of them - they put in some good work and hopefully it will continue from here. Suzie's jog work was some of the best I've felt so I know it can only go up from here!


  1. i can't decide what's cuter: Suzie giving a pony ride or Spud standing on the tree trunk lol. sounds like an awesome ride and workout for both tho!! and nice tips for working on the halt :)

    1. Suzie loves giving pony rides! She thinks it's the best thing ever (she doesn't have to listen to her rider). Ha ha ha!

      I hope they help you!

  2. Susie and Spud sound like they are ready to work and enjoyed their day. Like you said it can only go up from here! Maybe Spud was trying to look taller by standing on your mounting block. He's too cute!