Sunday, March 08, 2009

And Again I Rode

Twice in One Weekend

How could I resist? It was around 65F today, but cloudy. I think rain is coming but it held off.

This time I took Toby out first for a nice little hack. Nothing special--the Tucker trail backwards. What I think pleases me most about riding him is that at 19 now, he stills feels wonderfully sound. I don't notice any stiffness anywhere and his steps are nice and springy.

Remember, now, I did retire him from dressage at Intermediare I, primarily because I felt he had reached his limit with self carriage and as the work had progressed, his hocks had gotten sore. He is not built ideally in the front to be an upper level horse as his neck is set fairly level, so he had to work extra to balance back on his hind end. I did not feel it was fair to push him any more even though I am sure he was quite capable of learning the piaffe and passage. (Not that I was able to actually teach them beyond the basics....) I would like to credit that retirement decision with his apparent soundness now.

The fun thing with him is that if I want to, I can get on and do most of the upper level movments in a fairly long, non-challenging frame because he knows how to do them. So, I can play with flying changes, half-passes, etc. whenever I want to.

I took Chance out on a hack next and he was really nice and forward in his walk. The kid does have pretty nice gaits when he offers forward, so this felt good. We only had one little issue when the friend of the guy next door who has chickens in the woods was out there feeding them. Chance has never seen him there before and actually spooked and bolted....for about one stride. It was kind of cute and he settled back down almost at once. No big deal and exactly the kind of thing that boosts my confidence in a horse. Good level head and easy to calm down after an incident.

I decided to ride Tucker in the arena playing in a longish frame, legging him up and just encouraging him to go forward. I'd also set up a little jump grid with two jumps of about 1 foot in height, set at a one stride distance.

Tuck gave me a bit of an attitude on the first canter depart, which I corrected quickly and then he was fine. But the right lead was tending to get crooked, so I did some counter bend and then counter canter to correct it. Then I trotted into the grid, and he ran out at the second jump.

Bummer. Now, I competed in jumping classes for some 20 years or more, so I do know what I'm doing, but I was being too careless and didn't insist he stay in the line as I should have. We finally got three passes through in each direction, so I stopped. It was only after I was done that I realized I had never tried that exercise with him before and haven't even asked him to lunge through a combination more that about two times, so all in all, he was pretty good about it.

I know a little jump of one foot is nothing big, but to a green horse (at least as far as jumping goes) it does pose a bit of a challenge. What I do like about Tuck is that he never gets excited on the approach and he seems to like it when I take a bit of hold and kind of push him into the rein towards the fence. I suspect he would be a lot of fun to jump more seriously if I ever wanted to.

But, my jumping days are pretty much over. As someone said to me yesterday at the dressage lesson, jumping exponentially increases the possibility of a fall and at this point in life it's just not worth the risk.

Think I'll keep my focus on dressage with occasional forays into the world of the one foot division. Crossrails?? Trotting poles??? Itty bitty logs in the woods???

Four feet (hoofs) mostly on the ground strikes me as good.


  1. how wonderful to have a schoolmaster! What a gift. He must really want to please to work against conformational "flaws" (not ideal for dressage is not nec. a flaw!). He sounds like a wonderful boy...

  2. Anonymous9:12 PM

    Sounds like you had a wonderful day! Your boys sound like wonderful guys. Some days I wish my group weren't as hot-headed, but somedays I love it. I too used to jump, but don't do it any more. I had done the hunters, and could have done jumpers with Lily - she will jump anything (my daughter took her to 5' and our trainer's daughter took her to 5'6") but is quite difficult to ride. I decided life is too short, and Maisie doesn't really enjoy jumping partly due to confirmation. So we do all sorts of other things. I like your cross-training approach to dressage.