Tuesday, January 08, 2013

mid-day ride on the Big Bay

After a streak of early evening rides, the Big Bay and I got to the arena at noon today. It was nice to ride without the sun setting, although I love seeing the sky change during our early evenings together.

Yesterday's ride felt a little bit off. Keil had eaten hay while I was grooming and then tacking him up, and I think I might have tightened the girth too tightly - he felt slightly stiff through the barrel and I felt slightly stiff through the hips. We rode out of this feeling by the end of the ride, and it was a nice ride because we had Salina and the donkeys with us, but I wish I'd thought to check the girth a few minutes in.

Today everything felt normal again and Keil Bay warmed himself up and let me know when he was ready to move into a bigger, more powerful walk, and then when he was ready to trot. Today we had a really lovely working trot going to the right and eventually got it to the left as well.

I realized today that one big leap I've made over the past year has to do with shortening and lengthening reins without losing contact. I struggled with that previously - tending to throw the reins away frequently. For whatever reason, I'm much better able to keep a consistent (though very light, especially compared to the oft recommend 5 lbs. of weight in each hand) contact without thinking much about it.

I also realized today that going on the left rein down the long side Keil's counter-bending is not due to  stiffness but due to the fact that he is actively wanting to keep an eye on the woods behind the back field. I decided to stop noticing that for now and just let him keep his eye out if he wants to do so. When we go left from M to C he immediately takes up a correct bend and keeps it all the way around to F.

When Salina and the donkeys were back there yesterday, interestly enough, he didn't counterbend. So I guess he's taking herd patrol when we're riding if he's the furthest equine back there!

Best thing I've done lately: dismounted onto the mounting block. Keil Bay loved it too.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I love your epiphany about Keil's counter-bending. The same thing happens here, and Val doesn't have a backup to take over the vigilance duties. I will cut him some slack in the future!

I have sometimes dismounted onto the mounting block, but find that the next ride Val will hint about when the ride should end by marching over to the block unbidden, ;D

Grey Horse Matters said...

Hmm, I don't think I've ever dismounted onto the mounting block. I'll have to try that with Dusty sometime. Maybe then she'll equate the mounting block with getting off as well as on. Might help her issues with it.

Sounds like your rides are going very nicely with the big bay. It's hard sometimes to remember the consistency with contact but I think you have mastered it. I haven't really with Blue but Dusty is so easy to keep a consistent contact with because her head is constantly in movement. I wish everyone could see how much she moves her head when she walks. She's taught me quite a bit about following.

billie said...

C, I hadn't noticed him doing it until this year - not sure if age is making him more cautious or if there is simply more activity back there these days with the foxes!

LOL - Val says okay, here you go!

I have had some left foot issues this fall and decided maybe leaping down from the Big Bay after riding is not helping it any. It feels like a longer drop to the ground than it used to!

billie said...

A, the interesting thing about dismounting onto the block is that you then have total control over where you position the horse, which I think might carry over to the mounting part the next ride. And if there were stepping away issues you'd be in the best position to correct it before getting off.

I'm fine with consistency as long as we are in the same frame - but when we go from long and low stretching to a more collected frame I can end up with floppy reins. Not sure how this has corrected, as I haven't been consciously focusing on it!

Matthew C. said...

"Best thing I've done lately: dismounted onto the mounting block. Keil Bay loved it too."

I would have never thought of doing this, but it sounds like a good idea.

billie said...

I think anything that reduces torquing the saddle on the horse's back is a good thing for them. I have been noticing that I dread getting off at the end of the ride b/c it seems like such a leap down these days. This was easy and it was so obvious Keil Bay thought it was a grand idea.