Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yay For Fall!

September is here, and the horrible heat and humidity of summer has gone away, taking some of the flies with it. It's the best time of the year to ride, and Sofie is feeling better just in time.

We've been going on trail rides, once with FIVE other people from the barn...that never happens at my barn! People riding, that is. Sofie was happy to see other horses actually being ridden, I think, and she was very good when I mounted up in an arena full of horses (three horses pretty much fill up our indoor, and with six...oy). We didn't go all the way down the trail because she was rather off that night, but it was interesting to ride with other people and actually see other people riding. And I rode Sam again, since he was already tacked up and his owner was all "Does anyone want to ride him?" (There was lots of horse-switching going on). He decided to be a spooky idiot since he wanted to be done, and took off multiple times at a trot and once at a canter. His canter was nice, but I wound up having to haul on him before he could go through an open gate and take me all the way back to the barn. Idiot. Sometimes it's good to ride other horses just so I appreciate the Sofa more.

Sofa has been nice and relaxed, even in cool, windy weather. On the first cold, blustery day I did some work in the indoor, not knowing if I would take her outside, but she wasn't inverted at all and was stretching down nicely, so I took her out into the yard. She was alert, but not inverted and still in a nice frame (even though I hate to use that word, ack), and she only startled once. I did keep her away from the Scary Corner, though. No reason to ASK for a spook/startle/drift/bolt/whatever.

I've been working on flexion and better contact the last couple rides, and it seems to be working. I've been able to take up contact on her mouth without her tightening or inverting, and I've been able to get a little flexion on both sides. The left side of her mouth is hard, so our contact tends to be uneven, but it's getting better. She actually had a nice, even "lipstick" of foam after our last ride.

I also started playing around with transitions the last ride, mostly on the trail but I also did a few in the yard. She's still "off" at the trot under weight, and she's still short-striding when I free school her, but she's willing to work now. I'm looking forward to doing more with transitions, since that seems to be a great way to get her engaged, mentally and physically. I'm also looking forward to doing more trail riding this fall...maybe venturing out onto the road again, and it looks like we might be able to get to the railroad grade if this guy will let us walk through his yard. That would be awesome!

I'm also considering trailering Sofie to a nearby barn with a huge, mirrored indoor and a pretty excellent dressage trainer who periodically trains up here (he was in Germany riding Oldenburgs for several months recently). He's a really nice guy, and I really want him to see Sofie again, as he saw her way back when I first got her and he was always a fan of hers, even though she was a total mess back then. She might not be up to an actual hour lesson at this point, but I would like to ride her there at least. It's a totally different atmosphere there - I call it "The Land Of Dressage Queens". And I think it would be an interesting adventure for us.

Even if Sofie doesn't make it there (I'm hoping to make it happen, but if her soundness doesn't improve, she won't be going anywhere) I can still arrange to rent one of several possible horses and take a few lessons with Jesse. And that is definitely happening. I've wanted to ride with him for a long time, and I'm finally going for it!

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