Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good stuff!

Today was a beautiful day! 70* with no wind! For anyone who lives in the mid-west, you know that wind can mean the difference between a nice 70 day and a cold, miserable, sand in your eyes 70 degree day. I have been unpleasantly surprised on a number of occasions to discover it is 50 degrees and freezing outside. Enough about Oklahoma weather, though.

Boomer seems happy to see me when I go out to visit him. There have been so many huge improvements in his behavior over the last few months it really blows me away. I tacked him up and got on without using the fence and he is doing well with that also.

He was a little antsy at first, so I walked him around before we headed out for a trail ride. He calmed down after a couple of minutes of walking and leg yields.

We went out to the big pasture and Boomer was really bummed that the cows were on the other side of the fence.

I worked on some walking and trotting circles and had John capture a few photos of Boomer stretching down and low. He is really getting very relaxed at the trot and seems to enjoy being allowed to stretch down. I know he isn't a show horse and I have no intention in making him one, but I do want him to learn to relax when we ride. Dressage In Jeans recently had a few posts about the benefits of letting a horse stretch while you ride and she posted a few pictures of horses stretching correctly. How do you think we are doing?
Here is what we usually look like at the walk:

Here is stretching at the walk:

Here is our trot most of the time:

Here is him getting in some good stretches:

He occasionally pretends to be a peanut pusher:

Here is John being awesome:

Charley wants everyone to remember that he is awesome too:

After working on trotting for a while, we walked over to the big mowed area that is bordered by fence on two sides and worked on cantering. Overall, he was wonderful. He relaxed and started to lower his head. He slowed down and he let me steer him! It was the best cantering we have ever had. I did notice that he was flirting with the idea of bolting if I let him off of our big circle and let him go on a straight away. He also didn't like being brought back onto the circle in that situation. But, that was a minor discovery, no bucking and he didn't bolt. For a few laps of the circle he felt like a real horse. We were cantering, not struggling to stay together! I was so happy with that! We went twice in each direction doing 3-6 laps each time. I also asked him from the walk, which was a first. The circle we were on was at least 100 feet in diameter and even then, it was a real effort to get him to turn in a balanced way. I think that it rightfully stresses him out when I ask him to canter around the 50x80 paddock. He just isn't ready for that kind of turn at the canter. So, I want him to enjoy cantering and learn that it isn't stressful and I want to make an effort to work during the week on walking, trotting, flat work, and trot poles. When the weekends roll around and John can accompany us out to the pasture we will work on cantering. This way, I help to set him up for success.

A little post-ride grooming:


JJ said...

It sounds like everything is going really well for you!

I agree that stretching is verrrrry important. It relaxes the horse and lets them feel good after/in between working.

DressageInJeans said...

What a cutie! I have a thing for bays. ;)

The main thing it looks like you need to do is push him forward when he stretches down. Its a common mistake; they stretch so nicely that we don't want to squeeze because we're afraid they might come out of it. He needs a little more 'omph' to carry him through. If possible, you can go into a 'half seat' --like two point, only not as much--and then you reach a teeny bit further down his neck. I think with you supporting lightly with the leg, and giving him a little more rein, he'll be doing great. You want his nose to poke out of the vertical, when he stretches down. :)

I really like the picture before the 'peanut pusher' one, you can really see him engaging those back legs! :) He's using his neck too rather then just dropping at the withers. Yay!

He looks like a fun ride. Overall, I like him--just a few things and you'll have it all figured out! :)

Ellie said...

I'm so jealous you got to ride outside, it is still too dang cold in Minnesota. Werther's favorite part of our sessions is stretching, and anything were he gets to halt, LOL. Minimal work is usually his objective.

Ellie and Werther Blog