Full steam ahead!
That’s pretty much how I was feeling two weeks ago when I first got on Alice’s back. Although two weeks ahead of schedule, if I were going to 6 weeks off route…or four weeks ahead of schedule if I was to follow the 8 weeks off route. But it wasn’t like I was going to be jumping her. Right?
Well, we were getting close to that actually. She’s a wicked quick study. After just three rides she was responsive to hand and leg enough that our transitions were nice, smooth, and fairly quick. Steering was taken care of, both with the hand and leg. Then there was balance and straightness. We went from having some difficulty on our right lead, to no problem at all. Just like that.
So we hit some poles on the ground at the walk. NO biggie. Then the trot, the first time she jumped it like it was a four foot fence, landed, bucked, and took the fuck off! Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! After that it was like she’d been doing it her whole life. So lets canter. No biggie! Nice!
Then one of those things happened.
A loose shoe.
After a total of 6 rides and some serious progress, Alice was grounded. She had a flat tire. FOUR days off. Four. It doesn’t sound like much. And honestly, at first I thought…good. She could use some days off. She’s young, I don’t want to push her. We are just getting to know each other.
Well. Alice thought it was complete and utter bullshit.
So I learned something very important about Alice. She likes to work. She loves to work. She NEEDS to work.
We are a lot the same in this regard. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing. I like having a goal. I like to get tired, physically and mentally. I HATE boredom.
So after four days of no work and no turnout…it was time to get back on. Of course it was windy. Not just windy. Colorado windy.
So I decided to lunge her first. Good call. She was wild. But not crazy wild. Just a little squeal and buck. Normal.
I got on. She was FANTASTIC. Well, we definitely lost our momentum. She was a little less straight, a little longer to get our transitions. But overall, six rides with a four day break, absolutely perfect!
Unfortunately she didn’t get to go outside for two more days because we had some heavy rains. So the next two rides were mostly just getting her moving.
It turns out I can’t waste time grooming her before I ride. I have time to pick her feet, dust her off, put boots on and then she starts to lose patience. Pawing, some trotting in place. Nothing really BAD, but she is ready to go. So tacking up a moving target is pretty much the deal.
At first I was annoyed. although once I lead her to the ring, she is happy, relaxed, and focused. So why kill the excitement. She isn’t hurting anyone. I think I’d probably be like that if I were a horse. I’ll accommodate.
She is also really hard to photograph alone because she kind of always just wants to have her head in your lap. So I have a million pictures like this:
We put in our first official trail ride. I’m not sure how far it is, total, but it’s a nice loop which includes a bridge crossing. We had a few bicyclists pass us, both directions and some runners pass and she was FABULOUS! Alice doesn’t give a shit!
But she does give a huge shit about dogs. She hates dogs. HATES. I don’t blame her. Barking dogs are about the most annoying thing EVER. There are two that manage to attack the fence and bark incessantly as we pass on the trail. But she handled herself very well, even though she hates them. I just have to keep talking to her and her confidence stays high.
Overall she has just been amazing. I couldn’t ask for more and in fairness I’m not asking for a whole lot. Mostly getting her balanced with me on her back and getting more in tune with the aids. The rest will follow.
With her days off she has also added a few inches to her butt. So I’m assuming she is going to end up over 16 hands.
Her butt is most definitely on stilts!
Everything else is coming along well, she has learned to love getting a bath and after now six weeks she doesn’t care about fly spray! Woohoo!
We do have to work on clippers and riding with other horses.
Above is our second time in a ring with other horses. She is okay if they aren’t moving. But once they start moving, she kind of wants to race them. Eventually I know that will come together fine. I have a good, experienced rider with a good, well trained horse that is willing let us interrupt their ride to hopefully have Alice learn that she doesn’t have to race another horse, now just to work out the time to do it!
We rode in the dressage ring for the first time yesterday. She was a bit nervous at first, but I think that was mostly due to her having been in the ring with other horses first! So she was a little amped. Luckily it took less than five minutes to get her back to a calm, relaxed horse!
Our canter transitions are 98% rid of the head in the air. We only have that problem crop up when she gets tired or is a little nervous.
Basically we are at week 6 and at ride 9. She walks, trots, canters, halts very well. I couldn’t ask for more than that! We will slowly work on refining her skills and asking just a little more out of every ride. But when it comes down to it, days on, days off, days in between, as long as I stay consistent with what she should expect from me, she’s gonna be a kick ass horse!