Monday, September 27, 2010

Back To Dressage(ish), and New Ideas

I saw Sofie five days in a row last week, what with our usual three day/week rides, her hoof appointment, and a couple groundwork sessions. She tolerated it pretty well, but I'm sure she was happy to have the weekend off.

Her hoof appointment went fairly well, though she was absolutely horrendously uncooperative when Annie was trimming her front feet. She was much better for the hind feet, even with her lingering left hock issues. I wouldn't be surprised if she needs another sternum adjustment (Chiro Lady is coming out later in October) as she's been a bit girthy as well. She tends to overcompensate a lot and strain her front end compensating for her hind end, and then when she starts to use her hind end, eventually it goes bad again. But her feet are still doing great, and I brought my Easyboot Epics that I bought eons ago on the advice of Annie and never used, since I generally ride on grass/in an indoor/on wimpy trails, and see no need for booting up on those surfaces. But with our recent road rides, I've started wanting to venture out a little further, and I hate the sensation of riding on pavement, especially with a horse who can't be trusted not to lose her brains. So I wanted to try them on her (with Annie's help) and see if Sofie hated them. I had a feeling she would, since she is a Princess Pea type and never even liked polo wraps, but she tolerated them fairly well, picking her feet up at first, like "What the heck ARE these things?" and moving a little stabby in front with them on, but not exactly having a fit and going "Get them OFF!!!" Apparently I'm supposed to buy pads, which will make them nicer for her. I haven't gotten them yet, but hopefully I will sometime in here.

Our yard rides have been pretty good, all thing considered. She's not where she was last fall, or even where she was back in June, which was disappointing, but we are riding, and not just walking, either. She even threw in a canter up a small hill one day, and didn't kick out (since I remembered to let go of her mouth). She's been listening pretty well, and she gets a little crabby at times, but nothing major, and I'm told she looks good when she's not being crabby.

I made one unplanned visit to the barn one evening. I couldn't ride because I had taken my stirrup leathers off my saddle to (finally) clean them, and I couldn't get the back on (Wintec stirrup bars are a of the few drawbacks of my saddle), and I wasn't really in the mood for riding anyway. But I got to see some friends from the barn, and I turned Sofie loose in the outdoor to free school her, and she tore across the arena, back and forth, even throwing up her Arab Tail at one point. I think she needed to blow off some steam, since she hasn't been galloping around like she normally does when the weather's nice. She's been guarding, and occasionally her frustration and pent-up energy show up in our rides. So it was nice to see her just let loose for a change.

Our last ride was on Thursday. It was rainy, so I rode in the indoor with my friend who was supposed to "free ride" her horse. She normally has lessons all the time, so I hadn't ridden with her in a while. It was nice to ride with her, except when her diabolical Friesian cross mare decided she was pissed off (it happens a lot with her) and backed towards Sofie, clearly intending to kick her. But we got out of the way, and the ride was good for an indoor ride. Sofie was maybe a little sore from the tearing around she'd done the previous night, but she was cooperative and never got crabby. She was just a little...not enthusiastic. But we did walk-trot transitions, halts and backing, and even some turn-on-the-forehand work, which we haven't done in quite a while.

Friday was a groundwork day, just to give her a little exercise before the weekend. She was moving well and seemed to have energy, so I had her canter, and instead of just getting the depart and letting her stop, I "cantered" along with her and asked her to keep going. She was very good and kept going for me without kicking at me or giving me attitude. I think she enjoyed moving out a little more, and her canters were pretty nice. She will NOT take the right lead, but with her left hock being how it is, I'm not surprised.

So where from here? I'm hoping to do more on the trails, of course, and maybe, in our yard/arena rides, start asking for a bit more from her in the way of engagement. I'm still looking to get a lesson from Jesse, our super nice local dressage trainer (he's working on getting a horse for me to ride). But, in all honesty, after seeing a reining freestyle at a local horse expo, I'm getting ideas. Reining seems like more self-carriage, less Rollkur and pissed off horses, more fun. After seeing it in person, I was pretty much like "Screw dressage. This is what I want to do." I know Sofie would be good at it, if she were ever sound. And there's no reason I couldn't do it in English tack. I'm not a fan of Western saddles, having always ridden English. I'm not quite ready to give up on dressage entirely, but some of the disciplines I saw there gave me ideas of different things to do with Sofie, and we can always use new ideas.

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