Sunday, January 23, 2011

From great to horrible to better than great

Ahhhhh the green horse blues!

So Mac's been doing great at the new place. We cantered last weekend and had a lesson on Wednesday and things were going great.

Until Friday.

Friday there was a lesson going on the arena when I got there, which is not uncommon. But there was also someone who had trailered in to school in the outdoor arena. The outdoor arena is across a driveway of sorts and separated from the indoor by a row of trees. The trees are all in a row and you can see movement through them but not an entire view of what's on the other side. Mac knew there was a horse over there, as at one point we could glimpse a head walking by, so he called out a couple times and was totally and completely distracted by the other horse whom he didn't know. Also the horse who was having a lesson left the arena, and Mac's neighbor from the next paddock was on a trail walk down the street. For a bigger boarding barn this would be a quiet day, but for a quiet barn like this one, this was quite the day of chaos . . . as far as Mac was concerned. And he was concerned!

I tried to just stick to my game plan of walking in various circular patterns around the arena but he kept wanting to drift over toward the outdoor arena and look and crane his neck to see what was going on with the "new horse." Our circles weren't very good, our brains weren't very in synch, and I wasn't really enjoying the moment.

Sometimes Mac gets more into the schooling session if we trot so I thought I'd give that a try.

Whoo boy! I'll never again say this horse isn't athletic! We started trotting and I don't even know what happened. Perhaps he was having a temper tantrum because he wanted to go join the other horse. Perhaps something spooked him, although I don't think so because he would have gone sideways not up in the air. So up in the air he went! All four feet off the ground, hump in his back and it felt like we were flying. But not in a good way! When we landed we did lots of small circles in each direction and kept our work area small. Then we gradually expanded it. Then we went back to the trot and stayed on a circle. I'd say the quality of our work wasn't great but I was just going for working on keeping feet on the ground for the rest of the day.

I was able to salvage the schooling session somewhat but he was very fidgety for the rest of the ride. Once I got decent enough trot work out of him and I felt like he was more focused on me I called it a day and we went for a walk down the street to cool out and of course he was quiet and happy.

Yesterday I rode in the morning and no one was there so it was nice and quiet. We worked again on circles and staying between the reins and legs and it was much improved from the day before. We even cantered in both directions and he was very good. He's actually good at picking up the correct lead, so at least there's that!

Today I went out in the afternoon and again it was really quiet, which I wasn't expecting. The horse who had been trailered in the other day was there again but I think that since Mac could see him in the arena from his paddock that it was no longer interesting.

I rode Paddy this morning and had a lovely ride so I carried that feeling to my ride with Mac. Today was the best yet - he felt relaxed but forward and happy. We cantered in both directions and I found that when I really lighten my hands he's quiet. I worked on that same feeling at the trot - lighter hands, more of a hunter-type ride than a solid-contact dressage-type ride - and he was light and forward at the trot after we cantered. It was quite fun and so we ended our ride with a nice walk down the street. We hand-grazed for a half an hour and did some easy groundwork stuff.

Five steps back, two steps forward, five steps forward . . . what does that add up to?

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