Wednesday, October 20, 2010

High highs and low lows

Well if I had posted a few days ago I would have written about how wonderful Mac was doing and he was forward and light and kind of straight. Two days ago I popped him over a cross rail and while he didn't really jump it, he did go over it and in a straight line, at that!

But alas, today is a new day, and I have the green horse blues. Perhaps he doesn't like my jumping saddle. Perhaps he was just in a mood. Perhaps I was riding crooked. If I went left he leaned in to the left and bent his neck to the right. If I went right he leaned in to the right and bent his neck to the left. I'm sure part of it is me but I know that part of it is him being a stinker because if we go along the rail that is closest to home then he has no problem going in a straight line.

I finally decided to sit the trot and that was mostly better because I think I was sitting more in the center and not throwing him off with posting or having a forward position. But ack, I felt like an idiot who couldn't ride today!!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Big spurs!

I had a mediocre ride on Sunday and I realized that because Mac is small horse when my leg hangs down on the Western saddle my heels (and small spurs) do not touch his belly. In order to get my spur on him I have to hike my heel up and move my leg around too much. So I decided to put my swan neck spurs on which are a bit longer and they point upward - they are made for a situation such as this. Having a spur on allows me to use different signals for different things. Both legs on (but without spur) means go forward. Spur (used on one side or the other, independently) means move over or yield to the pressure.

On Monday I lunged him in side reins and it was a bit windy so he was a bit animated (although for him that's really not a lot, he kind of tosses his head around a bit). I decided in the warm-up (before I put the side reins on) to ask him to canter on the lunge line. I haven't asked this of him for a long time and last time I did he was totally unbalanced and couldn't hold the gait or the lead going to the right. This time he did both, so that's progress! Because of the weather, it took him a bit to settle into the side reins and he never really got into it but again I'll take the progress where I can get it.

Today Colin had a lesson with Paddy and he brought Mac along and I met him there after work. I thought it would be a good adventure for Mac to get out to a new place and see different things. Well he was totally unimpressed and acted as if he had been there a million times. He did have a look-see when the neighbor's goats were bleating and running around but mostly he just stared at them. We worked on yielding to each rein, yielding to each leg, moving over and staying on the rail, and trotting straight. He did really well, actually! We trotted through some poles a few times and that was cute because he decided the he wanted to have a look at the last one as we were going through. Colin had a great lesson on Paddy and Mac did a good job of working and resting and working and resting and just standing around while Colin jumped.

Hopefully someday in the future I'll get to have a jumping lesson, too!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sigh, it has been so long

I've been meaning to write and just keep forgetting. As soon as I ride I think I'll come in and write an update but it always escapes my mind by the time I get in the house.

I am not doing a good job with consistency in the riding department. It seems like something always comes up and gets in the way of the time I have to devote to riding and training.

The good news is that when we do the work we do make progress, it is just going very slowly and more slowly than I'd like. Lunging is going well, with him going more forward, on more contact, and accepting the boundaries of the circle. So that's good. I do feel like we are way behind the curve, though, and should be farther along - but I guess I can't have high expectations given the time we've put into it.

Under saddle he is doing better with staying on the rail. I had an a-ha movement when I figured out that I was crooked and so when I straightened my body he was straighter, too. He still does drift toward home, though, so I need to put more thought into that. Steering with reins alone to keep him on the rail really doesn't work so I've got to spend more time working on steering off of the leg, which will be my focus this week.

On an unrelated note, he is beating Paddy up so I've got to keep them mostly separate. Paddy is very polite and does not push the boundaries and try to take over herd leadership, so Mac is being a bit of a bully toward Paddy. He doesn't act that way toward people, but when it comes to other horsey relationships he is firm about maintaining his top dog position.

So today I will lunge him and perhaps I'll be able to have a lesson this week to get us dialed back in on the program. These are the times that I miss being at a training barn.