Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pressed for time

I spent Tuesday afternoon at the barn as usual. My neck has been feeling somewhat better so I decided that I'd ride two horses. I hadn't ridden Albert since Nationals I chose him and Kaswyn to ride and Fire to lunge.

The plan I've been rolling around in my head would be to go to the barn four days a week and rotate so that I'm only riding two horses every day and lunging one. That way they will all get four days of work but only three days of riding and one light day. Riding three at night is just too much and I was only making that happen because Nationals was coming up. Now I can take it easier.

However over the next few weeks I will be feeling a bit of pressure. Usually I go to the barn Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, but since Nationals the girls have had swimming Thursday nights. No big deal that I skip one day, but this week and next week I've got dates planned with my hubby on Friday. So skipping Thursday and Friday is totally out of the question. Yes I know my horse had a whole week off while I was in Kentucky, and Fire hadn't been worked in six months, but now I'm rolling again and I don't want to slow down!

Anyway, I rode Kaswyn first on Tuesday. We continued schooling working to lengthen to working trot. He feels stronger and I'm getting a stronger, even trot stride from him. This is kind of a new thing for me, as I've always felt that his lengthen (or medium) trots were delicate. What is mean by that is, well, my horse is hard to ride. He doesn't look like it, but he's tricky because he's sensitive and the slightest shift can throw him off. So riding him is like walking a tightrope - constant, tiny adjustments, no over corrections. This applied especially at the medium trot. About halfway through the diagonal I had to do a very slight adjustment or he'd get too ahead of himself and take a funny uneven stride. The adjustment had to be done just right or I'd ruin the whole thing.

But then I started riding Albert again, and got these fantastic trot lengthening from him. They are strong, even, and that horse pushes over his back like crazy (I think he got 8's on them at Nationals - the good ones anyway). Now that I know what it's supposed to feel like I want Kaswyn's to feel like that too. Kaswyn knows how to push over his back but I don't think I ever schooled the lengthenings properly with him. That kind of strong pushing stride is not inherent in my horse, but I think I can teach him how to do it.

So that's what we schooled first, then a little walking and then some collected to working canter transitions. Then back to the trot. We're getting there but it's going to take awhile. And I'm not going to push it and injure that boy again, so I'm being patient.

Then I rode Bert (when I say Bert I mean AlBert, you get that right?). We did a little trot work and then I decided that I'd try the flying change exercise that my trainer had me work in our one lesson. Albert gets so upset about the changes that I want to start working on them now so that in two years it will be no problem. It might take that long to get them if Tuesday's work was any indicator. He just gets so freaked out that as soon as I ask for the change he throws his head in the air and takes off. I think he got about half of the changes I asked for, but it's so hard to tell if they were clean because he was taking off so much. My trainer says it's okay that he gets a little excitable about them, because his changes will be very expressive once he gets them. But for right now he's in a panic. I need another lesson! Unfortunately they will by at my barn and not in my trainer's great arena, because now that Skyy is home the trailer is up for sale and not available for me to use anymore. Bummer.

Then I had time to throw Fire on the lunge line. That poor horse is still so stressed about working, and I didn't even work him in side reins or anything. He did get to the point were he'd stretch his head down, but for the most part he was tense. After we finished I walked up and patted him, and he didn't sigh or relax at all. I really wanted him to lick and chew his mouth a little bit, so I put my finger in his mouth. He allowed me to get my finger between his lips but his jaw was clenched tightly shut. So I moved his tongue around a little bit, and it was very very dry. I know that with a bit in it's a mouth if a horse chews (in a contented way, not in an anxious or gnawing way) that the mouth will get wetter, but I don't know for sure if a dry mouth is a sign of tenseness in there is no bit present.

Kaswyn is very oral and as soon as I'm done lunging him he licks his lips and chews his mouth. Albert didn't used to lick or chew when we were done working because he was tense, but after each ride I'd get off of him, pat him on the neck and tell him good boy, then put my finger in his mouth to make him lick and chew. Now as soon as I get of and tell him good boy he does it. So I'm hoping this strategy will work with Fire. He is ten times more tense than Albert was, so it might take quite a long time.

So that was Tuesday. Today I have to get off of work, run to the barn and ride, get the girls by 5:15, go home and feed them dinner, then get to swimming by 6:35. Luckily I think I can get out of work early today so I might be able to jump on Kaswyn bareback and lunge the other two really fast and still make it to get the girls in time. Only two more weeks of Thursday swimming, then it moves to Wednesdays which will be easier for me since it's not a usual barn day. However Mondays and Wednesdays are the days that I schedule things (like car appointments, doctor visits) and run errands so I'll have to make sure I get that all done on Wednesdays in time for swimming.

Oh, and I had a great chiro and massotherapy appointment yesterday. My neck and arm are only a little sore and are feeling tons better. I'm not doing any work on that special project for a week, so hopefully I can get some healing done. It's nice not to hurt! Imagine that.

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