The weather has been absolutely magnificent the last several days - enough so that I've been able to complete the majority of left-over winter chores. There are a few more big ticket items (ie. removing the winter's worth of piled manure from the paddock and doing a big clean-up and clean-out of my trailer/ tack/ feed room) on the list, but they're slowly getting ticked off one by one. There is still some residual snow in the horse's paddock, but winter blankets have firmly been put away for a few weeks now and I'm excited that the weather forecast in our area promises nothing but sunshine.
All of the Spring-time activities are slowly taking place as well - we had a visit with Kelsey from Four Winds Saddle Services to check out Annie's saddles and after some discussion, she did some reflocking work to the dressage and I'm on the hunt for a better fitting jump saddle. We've been looking at this for a year and a half now, but I've always held back from pulling the trigger because I didn't want to spend a large portion of money on something that Annie could potentially outgrow since I would not be purchasing a brand new custom saddle like I did for our dressage. Add in the fact Annie had medical issues most of last year and it was pulled off the table - especially since our current jump saddle is "passable".
Anyways, I've been able to put a few more rides on Annie and it finally feels like the season is truly starting (for those of us who don't have an indoor anyway). I've been schooling on our hacks, but road-riding doesn't lend many opportunities for things like circles. Straight lines have been our life for the last few months and while we have incorporated bend and some leg yields, it's very difficult much more than a walk on the roadside when cars are going by or you run into pedestrians.
|Who needs a mounting block when you have a |
Still, we were able to put in a pretty decent ride last week - I left Spud at home and wanted to concentrate on riding Annie a bit more seriously, as ponying limits what I can do exponentially. So, I took Annie out solo-style with the intention to put her through her paces and.... the first 1/4 of the route was BUSY. Lots of vehicles passing, kids on bikes, people walking dogs, etc. I had limited space to trot out, as some sides of the road were still full of snow so it made it nearly impossible to do anything.
Unfortunately, Annie also decided to engage rocket-ship mode when a pair of joggers came up behind us and for whatever reason, she got a bit scooty with them passing. I had to turn her around so she could visibly work through whatever it was she was dealing with and then she passaged her way down the road after they had passed for a good minute or two. I brought her to a halt, did a quick rein-back and firmly handed out a half-halt as she quickened her steps again and she complied. I was able to do some trot sets and let the reins slip through my hands a few times to let her stretch and really round her back out (something she struggles with in the contact).
As the ride progressed, I decided to ask for canter and like most readers know by now, the wheels fell off the bus a bit. She did not like my insistence that we cantered straight on the soft shoulder and threw her haunches to the inside so much that I could actually hear hoofbeats on the asphalt. She gave a good attempt or two at cross-firing but I ran out of room to deal with it (driveway) accordingly and had to bring her back down, regroup and try again.
|We had to wait a few times for cars to pass|
so we could continue trying to suss out our canter.
Because we were heading home, she was very sproingy and any leg pressure sent her into a nose-dived canter that felt like we were tumbling down an embankment. So, suffice to say, not fun.
I knew that I had limited means to deal with the whole canter charade on the road, so kept walking back up the road (away from home) to where the sides were longer and redoing the entire process again. She sucked back hard at turning away and continued to bound in place, yanking the reins down to her knees and refusing to give me straightness (or the correct leads). I pulled out the Zen Ninja of 2019 and simply repeated the exercise without playing into her theatrics. I didn't need correct leads - I just needed quiet and willing.
We repeated it probably... 5 times? The side shoulder only allowed for 10-12 strides of canter at a time so it meant I didn't have a lot of time to influence her.
Once she amicably gave me straight and quiet, I dropped the reins, patted her and we continued the ride. A few more times we popped into trot, let her stretch and we did a few more impromptu canters and she was great. We finished up with a longer walk home with plans to take both her and Spud to the fairgrounds over the weekend (because guess what, it's finally clear!) and let them kick up their heels (spoiler alert; N and I also took Maizey and AJ!).