A Long Overdue Update

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter has definitely settled in for western PA.  While we haven't yet had a bad winter, it has gotten cold and it's dark so early.  Unfortunately my time with the ponies has suffered because of it.  I just can't quite bear that much riding in the cold, especially since they all tend to feel pretty good in this weather.  Luckily over the past month or so I have gotten some good rides in.  And added some new ponies to the string.

The week between Christmas and New Year's saw me at the barn pretty often.  The nice thing about working for Pitt is we do shut down for winter recess that week.  So I was able to get out almost every day.  I had several very productive dressage rides on Bugsy.  Slowly but surely we are mastering this whole dressage thing.  And it's making more and more excited for show season to start.  I also had a ride or two on Kaye, which was a nice change.  Although it was very apparent that only the kids had been riding her for a while.  She was very stiff and all strung out.  And she was rather resistant to changing that at first.  But we did a lot of circles where I just dropped my outside rein and made her work entirely off the inside aids.  It worked, but she needs some occasional tune up after the kids.

Buggers got a sweet new pair of kicks, so he got a couple of days off.

Bugsy enjoying his pedicure
I love when Matt is home to shoe the horses.  First he does a hot shoeing, which I just like the fit of the shoes so much better.  And then second, he takes the time to do the job right.  Not that our other farrier isn't great too, Matt just really takes the time.  I tacked up Bugs when he first got there so he could watch him go.  See Bugsy has one front leg that is just a hair longer than the other, so if you trim his hooves identically then his stride is just the tiniest bit uneven.  But Matt watched me work him a bit and then pulled the old shoes and started trimming.  Then I worked him a bit more before the new shoes went on so Matt could evaluate his movement again.  Bugs felt great with the new trim!

Since Bugs got a mini vacation, it gave me some time to ride my own pony.  X was thrilled when I put him back to work.  And I mean work.  Ari's been riding him a lot lately.  And she does do a great job with him, but I've noticed he's been really resistant with his head when changing directions and I'm not entirely pleased with his canter.  So he got tacked up in the western saddle with draw reins and went back to school.  It was an enlightening experience for him.  Everytime I would ask him to change directions he would stick his head up in the air and to the outside.  And everytime he did that I would drop my outside rein and turn him in a small circle, making him bend and give in the head.  With some encouragement from the big boy spurs when necessary.  Eventually he figured it out.

Tired pony after school :)
Towards the end of the week Bonnie added a couple new horses to my string.  I got on Buddy for the first time.  And I have to say, he's a pretty cool little horse under saddle.  He hasn't really done any work at all in a couple of years, and that was evident in how quickly he tired.  But damn if hasn't forgotten a thing.  Typical arab he had to think about it the first time, but then once he got through that first time, it was like 'oh I remember how to do this.'  Of course I did feel like I was practically on the ground.  Slender, 14 hand Buddy is quite a change from rolly polly 16 hand Bugsy! First ride we didn't do too much, just some walk/trot, mainly so I could get used to him.  The second ride we did a little more.  We incorporated a lot of trot work and some cantering.  Again, he tired easily since he's so out of shape but he was a really good boy for it all.

Buddy after our first ride
And then the second new horse added to my string was Mystic.  You might remember Mystic from when Katie was riding him last year.  Well, he's kinda had a break for a while since Katie left the barn in August.  And actually a break was probably the best thing for him.  I tacked him up and lunged him a bit the first day before hoping on.  While he was very wild and full of go on the lunge, as soon as I got on him he turned into western pleasure pony.  Personally, I'd much rather ride a forward horse then one you have to make go all the time.  Did have to get after him with the whip a few times just to get him to move on, and then he was a little better.  The worst part though, was that he goes very much off the outside rein and hardly at all responds to the inside leg.  He really just wants to go around very stiffly, with little to no bend and just drop his inside should and fall around the turn.  Not acceptable!  That first day I just did a lot of circles with him, asking for the bend, making him do it right and hold that shoulder up.  Lots of changes in directions and I started to get him moving off my leg by asking him to spiral in and out of the circle.  Second ride on Mystic was much improved.  While he isn't the brightest bulb in the barn, Mystic can figure things out.  Something from our ride the day before must have stuck because he was a little more responsive.  Of course that also might have had something to do with the spurs I rode in.  :)  It was a lot of the same stuff from the first ride, lots of circles and changes in direction.  And I started to include some baby leg yields.  Anything really to get him moving off my inside leg and carrying himself properly off the inside aids rather than the outside aids that had been favored by his previous rider.  And he is actually learning and starting to change the way he carries himself.  I just foresee lots and lots and lots of circles in his future. 

Mystic waaaay over jumping the baby crossrail with Katie
Even here you can see he's not really bending
I'm really starting to get excited about the new year.  I've got a lot of horses to work with, and I'm planning to show as much as possible with Bugsy.  2012 is looking very good!