Mid-day, midwinter ride

I took advantage of the nice sunny but cold weather today to go out to the barn and ride.  When I got there, G told me that he’d had to pull her cooler off from under the main blanket because it was half off.  That’s okay because I don’t think she needs that much extra, now.  She’s grown some of it back, enough to keep her warm in her regular blanket but still have an alert and energetic horse under saddle.

Which she was.  G had opened one side door and of course That Required Notice.  Plus a dove or something big flopped up from the dusty end on the other side of the round pen, which startled her and earned A Look.  But otherwise, she was acting like a kid who’s spotted snow during class, wanting to Look Outside and Not Think.  Didn’t last long, though.  After a few circuits she settled into work.

Today’s work was mostly about inside and outside bend at all three gaits, on big and little circles.  Usual warmup, then work on the bend.  Then two track in both directions at walk and trot, then ask for countercanter, hold it for two big circuits in each direction.

No problem.  I still have to give her a fairly loose rein in countercanter, but I can sit a full seat now and urge her forward.  It’s a bit jarring as yet, but I suspect that will improve as she gains better balance.  It’s clear that working on the outside bend really does help her figure this out, mentally.

And then we finished with a rousing loose rein canter on the inside lead, in both directions.  Not the reining gallop–still too wet for that–but a nice, relaxed thunderabout which keeps The Girl happy.  And, by the way, lays the foundation for a nice, relaxed fast large circle or small slow circle.  These canters are the foundation of the small slows…the gallop with its different body language for the large fasts.  But both really require that horse and rider are comfortable cantering either slow OR fast on a soft rein.

At the very end, we went outside for a short hack, down to the elk bedding area.  They’ve not been there lately but she still gets dancy down there.  Today I urged her into a trot which she found rather exciting (in Mocha terms, which means raised head and eager forward motion looking for what might come along next).

I can tell the effect from acupuncture and Pilates now.  My legs are starting to drop better, and my hips are looser when I swing into the saddle.  Just a few short weeks ago I was wincing every time I got on.  Still not sufficiently confident in the legs to put the spurs back on, though.  I think it was leaving that spur mark on her that made me realize that the hip issue had gotten extremely serious.  Now I can really feel the difference, but I’ve still got a ways to go before it’s all better.  I want to be able to sit with crossed legs again by the summer concert season!

Now…time to go take care of a couple of things, then check in with the tutorial student.

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