Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Working on it

The sun was out and the temp was around 65 and the wind was howling, but I rode anyway. I am taking every chance I get to ride before the flood hits this weekend. Boomer was spooky because of the wind, of course. We worked on walking calmly for a while and did some leg yields and lots of circles, etc for a warm up. We also trotted for a while and he did really well at that also. His leg yields are getting much better since I have been focusing on legging him on with each stride of the back leg. We worked on cantering again with a loose rein. He picks it up fine but he pins his ears at first. Once we get going and I find soft contact with him mouth, he seems to relax his ears. He still doesn't seem to be able to stay in the canter for very long but I think it is an insecurity/balance issue. The 'arena' is too small at 50'x80' and he really has to turn to get around the short side. On one short side is a water tank and hay shed, making it a very uneven visual barrier. The other end is really rocky and he really tries to avoid the rockiest corner. There is an aggressive horse along one side so we really have to work hard at keeping on the rail on that long side. It is really difficult to get real work done when I feel like I am constantly navigating stuff like that, rather than riding the horse. Also, there I was wad of baling wire in the middle of the arena that I didn't notice until 20 minutes into our warm up. So, I'm not sure I really blame him for dropping to the trot before the rocky side. He was much better and stayed in the canter if I cut the arena short on that side, but the baling wire made it difficult to really get a good circle. Needless to say, I cleaned the arena and picked up about a million rocks after our ride. I also used the cavalletti I made a few months ago to close off the open end of the arena to make a better visual barrier. We have only worked on cantering about 8-10 times. He responds every time I ask him to canter almost right away and he doesn't buck anymore. He still pins his ears and makes haphazard circles rather than staying on the rail. I suppose I should be happy with his progress so far. If he is still pinning his ears and being fussy in another 10 canter workouts, I will start rethinking things, but for now I think he is doing well. I do recall that when we first started trot work he pinned his ears a lot at first. He eventually got over that and I think riding out in the open helped. Perhaps we will ride outside of the arena tomorrow and work on cantering in a larger space.

One awesome thing that happened today was that I noticed the Boomer was looking at the water tank in the corner of the arena and I walked him over to it. Of course, he was spooked by it at first and had to blow at it a few times even thought it used to be his very own water tank when he lived in this paddock. Eventually he braved up and took a nice long drink! Hurray, endurance horse! I was really proud of him and happy to know that he didn't hesitate to drink when he was thirsty!

After we rode I put his cooler on him and let him have some hay while I mucked out the paddock and played with Charley. I am adding a few 'glugs' of vegetable oil to his food to add some calories without adding energy. He is getting 4 cups of Horseman's Edge and 4 cups of Ultium plus a little vegetable oil per day. I would like to see him put on just a little more weight before we start hauling out and doing longer rides.

Have I mentioned yet that I have spring fever?

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