Saturday, September 15, 2012

in which the Big Bay and I get back to work

The weather finally cooled down last week and looked like it might stay that way, so the Big Bay and I decided we would get back to work now so that we'll be back in shape when the really nice autumn weather hits.

We started on Monday morning. Just walking, but it was nice walking, and I think we both enjoyed being back to work together in the arena.

Tuesday we did more walking but added some time and energy to the mix.

Wednesday my daughter rode Cody and we opened the arena gate to the back field and did some riding in back, up to the paddock, on through to the front field, back to the arena, etc. Keil woke up fast and then decided he didn't want to go further down the front field than the top half. He did a little balking and we worked through that, circling around and adding a few feet further down the hill a couple of times and then ended on that cooperative note. I realized later that what I might have done was just hop off, hand walk him down to the log jump at the bottom of the hill, mount up down there, and then ride up and down again. I might just do that to begin with one day and see if we can just forego the power struggle altogether a few times.

Thursday was a day off.

Friday I took the clippers with me when I mounted up and we warmed up and then did some trimming of tree limbs. It's a job Keil Bay seems to love doing - and it's the perfect way to ensure that I don't get smacked in the face when riding him. For much of the trim time, I was standing in the stirrups with both arms above my head, cutting branches and letting them fall to the side and behind us. Keil Bay stood like a soldier and took one step forward, back, sideways, etc. as I asked. There aren't a lot of horses I would trust to do that on at this point in my life, but Keil is definitely one of them!

We had a lot of assistance getting the oak branches studded with young acorns up - two donkey lads were quite happy to drag the branches around and nibble on leaves.

After the tree trimming Keil and I added in the first bit of trot work we've done since the end of June. It was not great, but we had to get the kinks out, and at least we made a start on it.

This morning I went out thinking we would walk and add some time to the trot work. Keil had a funky strip of frog tissue that I had wondered about yesterday - so I had husband take a look and we decided it needed to be trimmed off. I don't think I've mentioned that husband is now trimming the donkey hooves under the supervision of our trimmer, and is also working on the pony. So between the two of us we're learning a lot more and getting more confident about these little hoof care decisions.

I think it was a good one - the warm up and walk were much better today than yesterday, and I let Keil Bay do his "loose rein lead" - he could go anywhere he wanted but the walk had to be big and rhythmic. He again chose a huge figure 8 across the entire arena, but then, interestingly, chose to do a number of 10-15 meter circles to the left, which is at the moment his stiffer side. I wondered out loud if he was working something out in his shoulder. Sure enough, when we hit the trot time, Keil Bay turned on the power mode immediately. Right rein was still better in terms of bend but left was pretty good too!

And in some strange stroke of who knows what, I suddenly seem to have gotten back the ability to do that little "spring" thing when mounting that I did when young and haven't been able to do since I started back riding as an adult. It might disappear tomorrow, but for two days in a row I have done it, and loved the feeling of springing into the saddle. (I should be clear - this is still from the mounting block, not from the ground!)

Anyway, we're having good rides this week, loving the weather, courageously battling dive-bombing horseflies together, and really hoping that by the time we get a real fall day we are in shape enough to do some cantering.

Hope everyone is getting some relief from the long, hot summer of 2012!


Grey Horse Matters said...

The weather seems to be cooperating here too. Lovely cool days.

I think Keil Bay is an exceptional horse for allowing you to trim trees from his back. There's not many horses who are landscapers like he is.

So happy that you are both getting back to working and playing together. And springing into the saddle is a big deal and I'm sure that it will continue now that you've done it again.

billie said...

Arlene, you will hear the latest in an upcoming post - I think you'll get a kick out of it. :)