3 Jan

First Ride of the Year

And here I said I was going to ride more as part of my New Years Resolutions. I was suppose to go ride 2 days ago and didn’t because I let family and other obligations circumvent my ride.  Oh well, I still have a chance not to break my self made promises.  Today, I went out without a clear plan.  I just needed to see where we were at after so much time off for various health related issues this last month.

Just like always when I got there Coco whinnied at me when she saw me. She does like her treats.  So I went and got her out. Of course she had crusted dirt all over so grooming was a good scrub with the curry comb and clouds of dirt coming up.  I ran my hands all over.  Of course her hind legs were stocked up. This has been quite common for her when she’s left standing.  I noted that I do need to call my farrier out to get her feet done. Coco doesn’t need her feet done as frequently as my quarter horse. She actually has pretty good feet.  Last year I did have the chiropractor tell me that I should keep her shod all the way around because she had a tendency to wear down the outsides of her feet.  That was getting her out of balance and causing some minor problems.

I started out with 15 minutes of walking to warm up.  We walked twice on the rail both directions. I gradually picked up the reins and asked for her to bring her back up underneath me and accept more contact.  Once I started picking up the bridle and asking her to come through over her topline, we started doing walk to halt and then doing a turn on the forehand.  I did several of these going both directions. Coco was pretty good about it. She didn’t try to speed through it like she usually does. I tried concentrating on making these turns as correct as I could. One step at a time like my trainer tells me to do.

She was a little heavy in the bridle so I started walk – halt – walk transitions. She did pretty well but not as good as she has done previously.  Since this was her first real day back in a month, I got the best I thought I could get.  Sometimes I think acceptance of almost right can be a positive thing.  I know I’m guilty of occasionally (well ok not occasionally)  drilling my horses. People criticize me for wanting to wear a watch when I ride but sometimes that’s the only way to stop myself. Otherwise I don’t realize exactly how hard I have been on my horse.  This is something I need to improve, recognizing when enough is enough.

I moved from there to walk-trot-walk transitions going both directions.  Since she offered to halt from the trot, I decided to accept some halts.  They were actually pretty good. I could still feel her back lifted underneath me and her barrel swell under my legs. I went back to walk-trot-walk transitions.  I varied the transitions from 10 steps to an entire arena side.  I know that I wasn’t really driving her forward and “riding those hind legs” as my trainer put it.  Maybe I’m making excuses but I decided I needed to know I could get some of what we had before and I felt like I did get that. She offered to come through and I accepted it.  She was still heavy in the bridle so we did quite a lot of transitions until I felt her relax and release the bridle to lift her front end up.  Afterwards I gave her a walking break on a loose rein.

I moved into circling and bending.  I know I was having some rib issues so I kept insisting on the rib.  I remember once last year feeling like her rib was a sponge under my leg.  I’m still working on getting that feeling. I’m also working on making sure I can feel when she doesn’t give me her rib and “ribs me off”. “Ribs me off” is something I have been telling myself to identify when she’s not bending properly for me. I did some circles around the barrels in the arena. They make great centers for circles.  I did some sitting trot circles to smaller circles back to larger circles.  I gave her another walking break on a loose rein.

For my last exercise, I did the adapted needlepoint exercise from 101 Dressage Exercises which I reviewed last month. We did it twice in each direction with a rising trot on the big circle.  I then remembered that my trainer had me doing a stretchy big circle. I worked her two more times with the stretchy circle. I do feel she wasn’t really doing a good job on her stretchy circle. She just dropped everything and wasn’t really stretching over her back.  I will need to work on the stretchy trot some more over the next few weeks.

Afterwards i walked around like I do before and after we work. I like to do that to let them know it isn’t always about the work. It’s an old habit from my racehorse days.