Friday after work, I went straight out to the barn to ride Val. Since the arena was pretty deep and in need of a drag, I wasn’t planning to do much other than hack around lightly, but when I pulled Val in he was missing a shoe, and he wasn’t going to get it tacked back on until Saturday. Soooo I groomed him really well, threw on a bridle, and hopped on my horse bareback. We walked around in the arena working on bending and moving laterally, and eventually I asked for a little trot since his foot wasn’t torn up and the arena is soft enough he wasn’t going to damage it hacking around. Unfortunately, there was a definite head bob happening. So instead of a putting in a good flat, we walked around for 10 minutes or so working on every lateral movement we know. And even though it was only semi-productive, it was really nice to just walk around feeling what my horse was doing during those movements, without any sort of agenda. I was able to feel much more than I normally do with a saddle on, and I felt so in tune with my horse.
I’m so goal oriented and I get so laser focused, that I think sometimes it’s good for me to take a deep breath and remember to just enjoy my horse without any sort of pressure or expectations. I can definitely say that he was so relaxed by the end of our little walk and so supple. It reminded me again that I need to take my time warming up and get everything right at the walk before we start trotting.
Saturday Val got his shoe put back on, and we were back in business. Remembering the lesson I’d learned the night before we warmed up nice and slow, with tons of lateral work doing leg yields, haunches in, shoulder in, bending, spiraling in and out on a circle, and often doing turn on the haunches when our circle got really tiny. When I finally asked him to go forward my horse he felt a little silly, and leapt up in the air going by a gate that was leaning on a jump standard so I let him get his sillies out on the lunge line. After 10 minutes of play time we got back to work. we hadn’t jumped anything substantial in weeks, so I practiced our little single exercise (single off of a smallish turn–halt on the back side–walk off and jump it off the other lead–halt on the backside–repeat) starting at 2’9 and going up 2 holes every time we did both left and right successfully. We jumping it at 3’9 4-5 times coming in soft and landing nicely and called it a day. All of our slow warm up was really helpful here, as I didn’t have to fuss to get the canter I wanted, and it was he instead offered a quiet but pushing from behind canter.
Sunday was finally lesson day, and we did more grid work. During the week I’ll plan to work in some course work so we are ready for our first show of 2016 and (fingers crossed!) our 3’6 debut, which just so happens to fall on the weekend before my birthday again (Feb 20-21). We only put the grid up to 3’6 on Sunday, just to work him through it and do the exercise well. He was really concerned at first about the fact that we had put the exercise right on the rail , but he eventually got over it and was doing the exercise really nicely with no help from me other than a guiding left rein to keep him straight through the exercise. Combinations used to be really really hard for him to work, and I’m so proud of how clever and brave he’s gotten.
Sorry this is such poor quality. I’m experiencing technical difficulties with my phone uploading the videos
I made an effort all weekend to spend lots of time with Val just grooming and grazing and enjoying his company. There weren’t any break through moments in our lesson or big huge accomplishments, but I could still see how far we’ve come and feel the progress we’ve made in the last year, and my horse was so happy and sweet this weekend. After a weekend like this with Val, I am reminded how much I love this sport and all that it entails, and I am starting the week feeling full and happy in my soul.