Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Riding in the Sunshine

And It Wasn't Too Hot, Actually

After today's stage of the Tour was over, I headed out to ride--close to noontime. There was a nice breeze blowing and the humidity is low again. Essentially pretty darn nice weather for a ride.

For some reason, Toby nearly pushed himself on me despite the fact that I had a halter and lead in my hands. So, I caught him, put the Bug Armor on, doused him with mosquito spray, and off we went for a short hack in the woods. The flies did still bother him a little, but he had lots of "tree snacks" along the way so he was quite happy to go along. When I got back, I rode him for just a few minutes in the arena.

Tucker was now quite interested in being caught as well, especially once he saw me riding Toby. I saddled him up, put the fly mask on him, and took him into the arena. It wasn't the best of rides, nor was it the worst. Partially, it was my not firmly establishing forward before expecting him to work a little.

Working a little mostly meant cantering some ten meter circles. My goodness, you would think that was the most difficult exercise we had ever done! Aside from some grunts and groans, his canter stride kept going into a stall. While he didn't quite break down into a trot, he certainly did find the up in the air part of the stride lingering far too long as his hind end didn't step forward on the track. Hard to explain but if I were driving a car, I'd think the brakes had locked.

Then it goes to my lack of conviction in being forceful. What I really needed to do was give him a good "sting" with the whip, but that would have produced a nasty reaction, and I am just not up to riding that out.

But, I do have to consider I was riding him with a flash strap on the noseband for the first time. Knowing his reaction to the double bridle when I tried it, there is the remote possibilty that "forward" was being inhibited by the fact that he couldn't quite set his jaw against the bit when he wanted to. By the end of the ride I did get some good work, with one flying change--not necessarily when asked for, but kind of "hoped for" instead as it came out of a change of direction and the counter canter on the short side of the arena after I had already changed the bend a little. The trot work at the end was particularly good, with some really nice effort at half pass in each direction.

Hopefully, today's resistance was bit related because Tucker has been working much better over the last few rides. I guess a few more test rides will tell.

By the time I got on Chance, I was a kind of tired. Fortunately, he does not pose temperamental challenges like Tucker. But he does pose physical ones.

Today, he was relatively sound in the hind end, but I could definitely feel that his right side was "hollow." This means that the right hind does not actively support either his or my weight as well as his left. I tend to drop my seat into the hollow side if I don't concentrate on sitting straight, so for me, that was a focus point.

Chance offers passive resistance with such devices as, "There is a fly around me so I must toss my head. I have to snort so I need the rein. I have to cough, so I can't possibly go on the bit. I need my head to keep my balance." All of the above make for a decidedly erratic ride. But the moments in between were quite nice, so there is hope he will eventually get steady.

His canter has improved most of all, but the departs still require that he lift his head. I will be patient about this as he is now trying to stretch down and relax in the gait itself. I didn't ride him for long, but all the exercises, including a good session of walk/trot/walk transitions were worth every second.

Carrots all around for some good efforts. Perhaps not perfect, but it's all in trying.

4 comments:

  1. sounds good all round... and now you've got time to put consistent work into them you know it'll all improve exponentially!

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  2. Time for a well-earned nap.

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  3. An excellent outing - glad the weather was cooperating!

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  4. We seem to be having some really nice weather lately. It makes it so nice to ride even if everything isn't perfect or the way we wish it would be. I think you had a nice day and just getting to ride is a plus.
    Glad they all got their carrots for trying.

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