Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cantering work

Today was a pretty good day. We started out by working on sackingout with a pink pool noodle. He was spooky at first, but got over it and let me touch him all over with it. He did have a hard time when I moved on the ground and crossing it. After working for about 10 minutes, he would walk over it, walk over it while I rolled it around under him with the longe whip, and walk over it while it was on the platform. He was great about it and even stayed calm as the wind blew it around under him while he was on the platform going over it!
As I was tacking him up, he was ground tied and wandered off, so I chased him around a bit. Then he did it again, so I chased him BIG TIME. He was running and bucking and I was making him change directions a TON. Eventually he got so worked up that he started cantering and before he knew it, he was headed for the platform. I held my breath and he sailed right over it. Easily a five foot spread! Lets just say that after I finally told him "woah", he walked right up to me with his ears up and didn't move an inch while I finished tacking him up :)
I rode him in the paddock/arena for a bit, working on collection at the walk. We trotted a little and he wasn't moving out as well as usual but didn't seem 'off' or lame at all. After our warm up I asked for the canter and got pinned ears and a really fast trot. I had John get my riding crop and we tried again. The first pop didn't phase him, but the second one did the job. After he started to realize that I meant business, he started cantering at the first ask. I was really happy. He couldn't really stay in it for more than a lap or two, but that is totally fine for now. I thought it was so interesting that he just needed that little reinforcement a couple of times and then he 'got it'. He did buck on two different occasions when I was asking him to canter. It was just one buck each time and I stopped him easily and spun him in a circle to the left then right, then made him get back to work. As long as I am not bareback and riding without a bit out in the open with no helmet or supervision, his bucks don't scare me at all. Imagine that :)
I am really happy with him so far! I think I will keep working with him on the trot in the arena and alternate those canter days with trail rides. After a few more days of cantering, I think he will really relax into it and we will be able to really start working on leads. Oh, what a canter he has. He relaxed for about 4 strides on the left lead and I loosened my reins and let him have his head and his canter was beautiful. Smooth, floating, huge. Oh, it made me fall in love with Arabians all over again :)

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