Wednesday, January 02, 2013

pretend fox hunting and serious peppermint hunting with the Big Bay

Keil Bay and I had a really fun ride today, which started with me giving him another peppermint from the saddle. I can see that if I keep this up he's going to expect it, so I'll probably start saving it for after the ride. Today though, after a few "chews" he dropped it on the ground. I told him we'd look for it after the ride as I didn't want to get off and on again, and I didn't want him eating it from the arena footing. He didn't want to leave it, but with some quick urging on my part he walked on. However, every time we came around to that far end of the arena he lowered his head and scanned for the peppermint. It was hilarious. Big stretchy long and low between C and M!

Sometime into the ride the peppermint was forgotten when one of the resident gray foxes ran down the woodline which parallels the barnyard, arena, and back field. The fox was totally silent but Keil Bay went into full alert, I looked where he was looking, and we both watched the fox run the entire edge of the forest. The rest of the ride Keil Bay was convinced a pack of hounds was soon to follow, and I decided to just go with it and enjoy the alert, soft snorts and big strides.

For whatever reason my body felt really loose and relaxed today, and I felt like I was centered pretty perfectly in the saddle and over Keil Bay's center of gravity. It also occurs to me that it's just easier to ride a horse who is alert and forward. For the first year of riding Keil Bay this wasn't true for me - I needed him to notch things down a lot. Now I find that when he's really forward my body cooperates much more easily. The weird crookedness I can get into happens more when I'm trying too hard. Doing the Sally Swift whole body equivalent of "soft eyes" works well for me.

Aside from the ride itself, the ambiance was lovely.  The sky was cloudy - the sun came out briefly this afternoon, but we never really got out from under the cloud over. The light was unusual with the sun behind the clouds but shedding some brightness as it started to set. We rode until the arena lights came on and then wound down.

I've wondered if Keil Bay would enjoy fox hunting. I suspect he might, if he were with horses he liked and and the hounds were well-trained. Our pretend hunt was pretty fun and pretty easy since there was no galloping and no jumps. :)

After the ride, as promised, I took Keil back to the area where he dropped the peppermint and we found it. I dusted it off and he got a second chance. This time, as you might imagine, he didn't drop it.


Strawberry Lane said...

That sounds like a wonderful ride! Such a great feeling when everything feels right! Clever Keil ... and his peppermint.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Keil Bay would cut quite the figure as a fox hunter!!

I agree with you about forward being easier to ride. It's too easy to get off kilter when I'm trying to increase the energy. Forward is always the answer!!

We had a lovely peek of light through the clouds around sunset too. Back to cold and rainy today though...

Val gets a cookie before every ride, from the saddle. It's something that Erik Herbermann did with us at his clinic, when I had only had Val for a few days. It lets Val know how thankful I am for him hauling me around, and has never been a problem. :D

billie said...

It didn't really occur to me until my daughter started fox hunting how much Keil Bay looks like a fox hunting horse. He looks like a dresage horse too, but the more I've watched competition dressage the less affinity I have for that and the more I have for seeing horses move in their natural gaits, outside the arena.

Keil Bay gets so fluid and athletic when forward that it all just flows. For the first year or two the only problem was my fear that my body couldn't ride that, but now it just feels good. :)

And somehow easier for me if he initiates the forwardness than if I have to ask for it. Lately in rides I've just been riding him until he himself goes into his high gear mode. It's so much better than if I decide when for him. He knows his body and how much warming up he needs, and he knows too what gaits work best to get him to that high gear place.

A few years ago I stopped giving treats except on holidays. About once a year I buy a bag of peppermints and give them until they're gone. Keil Bay is a total treat hound and gets overwrought if he thinks you have a treat. Not trying to grab it but trying so hard to "earn" the treat he gets almost hyper about it.

billie said...

He's a character! After the ride he came all the way into the feed/tack room with me, hoping for more. :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

They really do get to be treat monsters quickly. Ours always get treats after a ride and sometimes from the saddle if somebody's being extra good. Glad he enjoyed his peppermints!

Sounds like a great ride. You should try him hunting sometime and see how it goes. J. took Erik one season and for a spooky horse he was absolutely fine and loved it. Not too many spooks out of him at all. They had a ball.

billie said...

A, if he were younger (24 in April, which defies all logic to look at him or ride him) I would try it. At this point I am thinking husband and I are going to find two BTDT fox hunters and take up fox hunting when the teens head off to college. ;) There. My secret plan revealed!