Thursday, May 13, 2010

Field Fun

The day after my somewhat questionable ride on Fireball, I returned to the barn and found Sofie quite stiff in the hocks. I free schooled her in the outdoor, which is large and enables her to do more straight lines than in the smaller indoor. She had trouble holding up her right hind for me to clean it, even though I held it low to the ground. At that point I wasn't sure if I should even ride, so I free schooled her again in the indoor, after which I decided to tack her up and try for a short ride. We stayed at a walk, first in the indoor and then out in the yard, and just practiced our relaxation, steering and cooperation. I even walked her a little way down the road. She never got crabby during the ride, and seemed to be moving better when I turned her out, so I think I made the right decision, and it's good to know that I can ride her even when she is stiff, as I'm sure she'll have good days and bad days.

Yesterday I went back out to the barn, and she was stiff again, though not as much as the previous time. I started out by handwalking her in the yard, doing some hill work, some trotting and a bit of backing, as well as just basic groundwork, i.e. Pay Attention, Don't Walk Directly Behind Me, and the all-important Don't Barge Ahead Of Me. Then I walked her partway down the trail and found that there was a major break in the gelding fence, so I took her back to the barn, turned her out in a small paddock and went to tell Judy about the fence. I caught Sofie back up and free schooled her in the indoor, then when Judy came down to the barn I turned her out with the mares so I could help Judy bring the geldings in. Then I caught her again (for the third time that day...fortunately she's gotten over being hard to catch!) and led her to the aisle so I could start grooming her. Sofie was quite confused when she saw the geldings were in (she tried to drag me to her stall) and she was upset when she saw Judy filling the cans in the feed room (she kept shaking her head, as if to inform me that she, Sofie, had yet to be fed and was Not Happy about it).

Since the geldings were in, I decided I couldn't pass up an opportunity to ride in the Big Field, even though I wasn't sure how Sofie would be, since she was a little miffed at not being fed and a little distractable when I warmed her up in the indoor. But she was an absolute gem. I walked her allllllll the way around the Big Field, then practiced trotting her away from the barn. She moved nicely and cooperated VERY well, even though she was a little insecure about trotting in the "wrong" direction. We did a little trotting toward the barn, too, and I stayed relazed on her even when she went a little more forward, and she listened when I told her to walk (though she needed a few strong half halt "reminders" on the outside rein when she failed to pay attention to a light aid). There were lots of gentle slopes that we could use to our advantage, so even the walk became a bit more of a workout for her. Her belly actually came up a bit, indicating she may have actually had to (gasp) use herself! It was fun to have some a huge space to ride in, without the "problem areas" we have to deal with in the yard. I plan to get back out there as much as possible, since we can obviously ride in the evening without drama from Miss Sofie, and I no longer crash after 3:00 in the afternoon now that I am eating better.

My mom is going out of town for six days, starting tomorrow, so I will be dealing with Sofa on my own, but I'm no longer panicked by the idea of not having my usual support system. My old fears about being able to see when Sofie is "off" and being able to cope with whatever issues we may have undersaddle have been alleviated now that I've had plenty of practice doing both. I know Sofie better than anyone else, and if rides like the one we had last night are any indication, we work pretty well together.

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