Riding log day 14. Snaffle bridle, English saddle. Mid-30s F, 2-4 inches of snow over ice.
I missed a couple of regular riding days due to weather, meetings, and doing the sale thing at Hurricane Creek Grange this Friday and Saturday. That said, the conditions on Thursday were downright crappy, and even though Wallowa County missed a lot of the nasty flooding that hit Pendleton, Walla Walla, Stanfield, and Hermiston (and which shut down I-84, which is only open now as a detour due to washouts), it was still of the sort that after my Soroptimist meeting at noon, I wasn’t about to strap on the chinks and ride in rain with melting snow and ice. Friday, I was at the sale and searching out flood videos on Facebook as the implications of what had happened in Pendleton became more clear. Saturday, I was at the sale again. So today was really the first day to ride for me since the weather went cockeyed.
Mocha was being standoffish and her buddy got on my stinky list by encouraging her to walk away. We did a somewhat longer straight line stretch because of the length of time away, and because I wanted to get a sense for the footing. In some places there’s ice under snow, in others it’s not as icy. Plus a long section of trot is a decent warmup.
So yeah we did the usual serpentines. My eye is getting better at being more consistent, though the counterbend segments are still smaller and wonky and need work. Two-tracking. Long rein walk, then gather the reins and back in a figure 8. That…needs work as well. Not Mocha–she’s back in the groove and doesn’t throw her head up to resist and bend as much as she used to. But while the first circle backing to the right was pretty decent, the second circle to the left….needs work. Pilot work.
Then we worked in trotting serpentines, then did the bowtie trot exercise, with appropriate walk breaks in between. The bowtie is becoming a relaxing trot routine for her, because she drops her head and picks up a consistent pace throughout. So it looks like I can ask her to do a bowtie when she’s tense at the trot, and she’ll slip into a relaxed mode because this is supposed to be a relaxing exercise with a consistent pace. Yay!!! After that we worked a spiral in and out at the walk. Once again, the circle to the right is very nice and reasonably precise. The left…oh, that so needs work. Again, it’s the pilot error. Nonetheless, she was also stretching and relaxing into the spiral, just as I’d hoped. What trotting we’d done to this point had shown a mild soreness in her right shoulder. She was doing everything right…I just wasn’t as accurate (circles become ovals to the left, or so it seems, both forward and backward).
Another walk break, and then the canter sets, with plenty of walk between. Still four sets. Footing was not such that I wanted to work on canter serpentines, and with shoulder being cranky I didn’t think it was particularly a good idea. Straight line canter, though, with me up in the stirrups and off of her back, hands on her withers like I’m galloping a racehorse? Yeah.
On the way back we did the half turn lines–forehand to haunches, ending with two full turns on forehand and haunches at the end, in both directions. And then we did spins. She’s getting evasive and self-protective spinning to the left, moving her hind end around too much. But the difference between a greenie and an experienced, finished horse? I waved a rein end off of her right side after the unsatisfactory three spins to the left. All of a sudden I had LOVELY spins. MARVELOUS, CORRECT spins to the left. No, girl. Gotta do it the right way. If you don’t do it the right way, you’ll end up hurting yourself.
I thought those were still in the old girl, especially since she is whipping them out hard and fast in the other direction. She just needs to practice them correctly.
Then we did some ground schooling with the same issue on the ground, only forehand turns to the right and haunches turns to the left. All require her to use that right shoulder, so we’re gonna slow things down and take it piece by piece.
All the same, it was a nice riding day. The next two weeks will be funky due to convention and travel, and then hopefully the weather gets better and we get more training time in. Soon it’ll be time to add in conditioning rides as well. Looking forward to that. Right now it’s pretty much just maintenance schooling.