Monday, September 20, 2010

first real day of autumn!!

Okay, it's tomorrow, but I have another post that needs to go up tomorrow so I'm celebrating the equinox here on camera-obscura today.

We have some color change going on in the landscape, and we have a nice breeze, and we are definitely experiencing an earlier sunset.  I am so ready for this shift. It's my favorite season anyway, but this year I'm especially ready for it.

I went out to ride today and it felt so much like fall I got drawn into a ritual I'd forgotten about - giving Keil Bay his "sport cut." I started out in the stall but didn't latch his stall door, so most of the trimming was done in the grass paddock, where I snipped and let his mane hair fly in the breeze. There's a trail of black mane out there right now - and he looks very young and very sporty.

By the time I groomed, trimmed mane and tail, etc., it was no longer morning! But this is what I love about fall - it was still fine to ride!

Today's ride was a bit different. Keil was still forward but we've settled down a little bit into our routine, so I decided to focus on our "straightness" and making more precise turns. To do this we shifted inward to the quarter line so there was no using the rail as the outside guideline. It took about one full circuit to get it right and then we did more in both directions to practice. I'm still focusing on equally weighting the stirrups, keeping the reins equal and still unless I'm specifically using one as an aid, and releasing my pelvic joints.

Keil responds really well to this, and after we had fully warmed up at the walk, doing some more shoulder-in (which Keil is very good at and which really stretches out his stiff side in a good way) we did some work walking, then almost trotting, then walking. And then did walk/trot/walk transitions around the arena in both directions. This needed almost no work - Keil is being very responsive and other than one downward transition when he kind of took off with me at the trot (at this point in my riding life I'd much rather have this issue than slugging from walk to trot!) it was lovely.

We're working on half-halts with the bitless bridle. It's a little harder because with the bit all I have to do is tighten my outside fingers, but that subtle an aid doesn't seem to translate without the bit. Once Keil gets more tuned in to the seat aid for that I think we'll be good.

The big thing that we did today was some very nice solid working trot. Not a lot yet but he offered it and I took it. He has a "power mode" that kicks in when he's ridden well and warmed up well, and I have learned that it's not really something you can (or should, imo) try to demand from him. If you put in the warm-up and focus on riding well, he shifts into this gear himself.

He has a lovely light trot that he offers too, but this trot is seriously big and you can feel the power underneath. I was really happy to feel it when we moved into the final bit of the ride - it's sort of like cruise control and truly fun to ride (wasn't fun when I first got Keil because it felt so powerful it was a bit scary).

It occurred to me today as we powered around the arena and he started getting very big and bold - I no longer get nervous and try to slow him down. I circle, or incorporate a pattern that helps me feel secure, but I am fine with the power mode. It has taken awhile for this to be true - there was a period of time when I was okay riding the power mode, but I often stopped it as a way of managing it - now we could go all day long (well, psychologically I could - my legs are still not strong enough after the summer off to actually go all day!)

So... first day of autumn and the Big Bay takes us into high gear. Happy equinox a day early! I hope everyone has forward motion and blue skies.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like a great day all around. I love this weather and love to ride in the coolness. I can imagine the huge power trot that Keil has, my Erik had the same thing. At first it was a bit scary but once you accept it and get used to it there is nothing like the feeling you get riding forward.

Happy Equinox! Looking forward to your new Autumn background.

Valentino said...

Glad you enjoyed your ride and the big trot :)

Happy equinox to you too!

ponymaid said...

Billie, do we get to see a picture of the new hairdo? It sounds quite dashing and seems to be translating into some quite dashing moves under tack. He must feel like a new man.

billie said...

Arlene, thinking about Erik and Keil Bay power trotting suddenly made me think of high speed trains in Europe.


billie said...

Thanks, V. It's been so nice being back in riding mode. Thank you (and Arlene too) who both have inspired me as you write about your rides.

billie said...

Sheaffer, I'll try and get a photo of Keil Bay - it's nothing fancy. I take the scissors and trim mane to the base. I usually do this in the fall so it has the year to grow back for summer fly protection!

Matthew said...

Big Bay is great, with or without his sport cut!

billie said...

Indeed he is.