Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ride Recaps, Conformation Shot Fail, and a Hoof Glamor Shot

On Tuesday, I pulled Sofie out of her stall, anticipating another indoor ride. But by the time we were ready, the sun had come out, and since all the horses were in, the Big Field was OURS. She was stiff, but not horribly so, and I did lots of walking and some trotting. We didn't canter because the footing was pretty saturated, and I stuck to straight lines, which I tend to do anyway. She trotted well and stayed straight without drifting, and she stayed soft in the mouth/neck. She even went through water when I asked. There was a little pool of water, maybe five feet in diameter, and she drifted to the side a bit on the approach, like "You know, we could easily go around this," but when I persisted she went through.

Eventually it started to rain, and we went in the indoor to work a little more. She was better without Diabolical Mare in there (Sofie worries about that horse, and I don't blame her, considering Diabolical Mare has threatened to kick us twice now while being ridden). She still wanted to fall in a bit, but it was manageable. She is very stiff to the right, but we really haven't been working much on bending so that makes sense. I'm hoping to work on it over the winter, since I will have no choice but to do some bending in the smaller arena.

The rain stopped again, so I decided to take her on a trail ride/cooldown. We went only partway down the trail since the wind picked up and I didn't enjoy the potential for getting whacked by branches. I rode back through the yard, and the footing didn't seem slippery, so I got it in my head to canter her, even though I was tired and we'd probably ridden an hour. So I trotted her through the new Place Where She Likes To Canter and put my outside leg on. She trotted on, not even blinking at my eager little aid. Thrown, I turned her around and tried again. Still nothing, and this time she seemed a little annoyed, like "WTF are you doing asking me to canter at the end of a long ride, beyotch? Don't you remember what happened when that idiot trainer convinced you to do that?" Yup, Sofa, I do. I pulled her down to a walk and then a halt with difficulty (I didn't get her to canter, but I DID get her nice and jazzed up and strong and not listening, yaaaay!) and got off feeling like a total idiot, and I felt like I had negated all the good progress I'd been making with the canter. FAIL. Rider error. FAIL. And just for good measure, to underscore how strongly I feel about how dumb and moronic I was, FAIL. I mean, I know better. I know I'm human, and I will make mistakes and sometimes for whatever reason, be it hormonal/tired/afraid/not afraid/just freaking STUPID, I will do dumb things. But gaaaah, I HATE when I do stuff like that.

So that was a sucky way to end what had actually been a pretty awesome ride. I mean, we rode in the field, the indoor, on the trail AND in the yard. How often do we get to do all that? And we really did quite well, at least by our standards.

So on Thursday I went back, hoping to redeem myself. We were all set to bring the horses in that evening, so we got there around 4:30, brought Sofie in, free schooled and brushed her, and then brought everyone else in at 5. Sofie was kind of high-headed/snorty/high-octane, and I tacked her up thinking "I probably should have free schooled you longer". It was chilly and windy and wheeeeee! So I started out in the indoor, walking for a bit and then trotting. She was fine in the indoor, of course. So finally I committed to going outside. As soon as we started walking to the Big Field gate, she felt very "keen". I went, okay, time for Mr. Whip to go bye-bye, and dropped him.

Out in the field, we managed to walk around and stay reasonably reasonable. She was drifting a lot more, but it could've been worse. I walked her for quite a while and then eased into trot work. It was more for my benefit than hers, although it certainly doesn't hurt her to walk, and I appreciate that she has learned to Just Walk and not go "Why can't we go CANTER???" every five seconds. She trotted fairly well, although her drifting was pretty pronounced at times, and she wound up with her head cranked to one side as I attemped Inside Leg To Outside Rein and she perfected Not Listening.

Our first canters were "interesting". She picked up the canter tracking right across a hill (although she was going straight, not really on any particular bend). I think she picked up the left lead, although she's quite athletic so it's hard to feel when she counter-canters (that's my excuse, at least). She wanted to drift toward the barn, I went "No" and kept my outside rein on, and she had "opinions" about that. The first time, she dropped back to the trot, glaring a bit. But the second time, she started throwing her head around. I half halted several times, and she went on, still cantering, but she didn't throw her head again. Later on I succeeded in getting a few strides of cantering straight away from the barn, uphill. The momentum helps, I think, but I know she was listening to me since she doesn't often break into a canter on her own when she trots uphill. I was relieved that I hadn't ruined her for cantering from an actual aid, and the rest of the ride was quite fun. It was by no means quiet, and she wasn't totally soft or responsive (she was in OTTB mode), but I enjoyed it, and she never did anything worrying. We had a nice long canter toward the barn (which I planned for) and I really enjoyed that. It takes me a while to warm up to the idea, but it really is fun to ride my little forward, semi-responsive, semi-out of control Sofa.

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From a recent attempt at conformation shot-taking. No, she doesn't really look this bad. Yes, she is an uncooperative beastie.

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This is the best we got. Yup.

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Hoof rehab WIN

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rained In

Our weather has taken a not-so-great turn. It's raining, it's blowing, it's no good for riding outside, the horses are standing in their stalls as I type this. It's not snowing, which is good, and I hate to be one of those idiots who whines about the rain (rain is good, after all, we need it and all that), but still...waaaaaaaaa.

On Friday the weather was still cooperating. It was overcast for most of the day, but by the time I got out to the barn, the sun had come out and I wound up riding in a T-shirt. Hell yeah. I had another great ride outside, starting with a warm-up trail ride that was very relaxing apart from when Sofie flew sideways at a bird taking off (you know how they make that BOOM-flappy-flappy-flappy noise?). I wasn't unseated, though, and we continued on. She thought about spooking at the geldings in the corner of their field on the way back, but ultimately she decided that was a dumb idea.

In the yard she was very good. She felt a little bit off at times, but she only had one balky moment (it's funny, but upon reviewing the video, she actually did a fairly gorgeous trot right after she balked and I smacked her with the whip. Maybe I should whack her more often?). She was primed to canter in her favorite spot, but I also got her to canter away from the barn to the right, though she wound up counter-cantering. Her left hind is still giving her trouble, as evidenced by her reluctance to hold her oppostite hind foot up for cleaning. Regardless, she went forward and listened to me, although her ears were back some of the time. Our last canter was to the right, heading back to the barn. She put her ears back when I asked her and wasn't into it, but I trotted her forward a few more strides and asked again, and she went into the canter. It was really nice and forward, and it may have been on the right lead (although I didn't feel her lead properly the other times, so I'm not really sure). After that I quit with the canter work, and did a lot of walk since she had done a lot. It took a bit of time to convince her to just walk, since she was in go mode and was starting to get a little strong. After a nice long cooldown, I stopped her and she nickered at me as I swung off her back. So cute.

I have video of that ride that I'm hoping to post, but I have to get it onto my computer somehow.

Then on Sunday, my weather luck ran out. It was pouring rain, so we were stuck in the indoor. I hadn't ridden in there all month. I was anticipating a not-great ride, since wet weather tends to exacerbate Sofie's hock issues, and the indoor is just not as fun as the yard. She free schooled fairly well, but was crabby about the girth (she might've been a little tender from her recent sternum adjustment. Or she might've just been crabby in general). We were sharing the arena with the alpha mare from Sofie's little herd, which always makes her a bit defensive. So she had her ears back a lot of the time, which may very well have been a defense mechanism on her part. I was a little out of sorts that day and was kind of nit-picky, which is easier to do in the indoor, since there are no distractions. So I noticed every drift, I noticed how we weren't straight, I noticed when she was inverted, and all that good stuff. She felt a little off at the trot some of the time, and I didn't have anyone watching on the ground, so I got paranoid that I was screwing her up (yeah...she has arthritis, genius, not a suspensory injury. She needs work). But nothing seriously bad happened, and we did do better at staying on the rail than we have in the past, and we trotted all the way around the arena both ways. We managed to not get kicked by Diabolical Mare (although at one point her butt was like two inches away from us...yeah, I gave her rider a bit of an earful. She needs to learn not to trust her mare around other horses.), and we thought about cantering...well, Sofie thought about it at one point, so I asked her once in each direction. Tracking left, she lifted a bit in front like she was attempting to do a canter depart, but she didn't make it any further. I still praised her for trying, though. Then, like an idiot, I asked her while she was tracking right, and of course she wasn't willing to do it and she pinned her ears and trotted on. She didn't kick out or balk, though, so it wasn't the end of the world.

I just wasn't ready to give up cantering, since we had been doing so well. It's easy for me to get sucked into the whole peer-pressure, "Why shouldn't we canter in the indoor?" thing, but common sense tells me that unless my horse is doing well in the trot, and able to trot a decent corner, there is no way we should be trying to canter. Sofie may be a large pony, but she moves big and she tends to eat up the indoor. It's going to take some work to be able to work in there as well as we do out in a huge yard with plenty of space and the benefit of fresh air and scenery. But we'll have all winter to work on that, won't we?


Sofie says "I'm still awesome."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photos On A Friday

I'm all caught up on ride recaps for the moment (probably to the relief of my long-suffering readers who wish I could throw in some tempi changes every once in a while...me too, guys!), so today I thought I would do a photo post. These were taken last week, and I'm really happy with how they turned out, especially given that they were taken while Sofie was working out of some stiffness. She definitely looks better than she has been looking (and feeling). I'm especially happy with how happy she apppears and how she is accepting the bit.

So, enjoy the photos! You can click on any of them to enlarge them (Blogger seems to make them annoyingly small...of course, I'm also viewing them on a Netbook). Feel free to critique/tear apart my position...last time I got a very helpful tip regarding "elbows in" (thanks, Sydney).


NICE, if I do say so myself. Poll is the highest point, neck raised/elongated, back up, hind end in use. I could be stretched up more, but I could also be a lot worse.


Um, way to stare at your horse's neck. She sure looks cute though!




It's all ORANGE!


Pretty trot!




Riding past the gelding field. I'm not entirely sure why my inside rein is 80 miles longer than the outside rein...






Not a bad trot on a downhill slope. My inside rein is way sloppy, but let's just pretend I was practicing uberstreichen. And my horse can carry herself!


This gives you an idea of how wide she really is. And I appear to be crooked, therefore, I am making my horse crooked. Shoot me now.




And down the road we go...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October = Awesome



October has been a most excellent month for riding. The weather, Sofie’s soundness and my own mental fortitude have all come together, and I’ve been loving the good fall rides. There’s nothing better.

Last Thursday’s ride was just wonderful. The weather was stunning, and Sofie felt good. She walked and trotted around, occasionally breaking into a lovely canter. She felt soft and willing through various transitions. It was just one of those good rides.

On Friday I went back out to the barn for more fun with the Sofa. She was stiff from the previous day’s ride, but she still trotted for me. Her walk felt good, but her trot felt off at times, and she wasn’t moving as freely forward. After a while I decided to ride her down the road, since she was a little stiff for yard work. She was fairly good on the road, though not without spazziness. She decided that the little-kid noises from the neighbors’ house up the hill were threatening, and insisted on trying to go down in the ditch, where there are holes. Just what she needs, stepping in a hole and straining herself, right? So I worked to keep her straight, and she did her typical continual back-and-forth drift. We saw one little dog who likes to run up to us barking, but she doesn’t go further than the end of the driveway, and Sofie has seen her before and seems to like her. She was more concerned with a man walking out of his garage (the Sofa does not like people who appear randomly. They all look suspicious to her). We made it all the way to the end of the road, even though there were the sounds of logging coming from the woods by the prison farm (Sofie also doesn’t approve of noisy things she can’t see, or anything having to do with tree carnage).

The way back was easier, of course. The neighbor’s German Shepherd was tied out behind their house, but he merely woofed softly three times, and Sofie was in goin’-home mode anyway and didn‘t even notice. Back in the yard, I decided to see if she was moving better, and she was. I did a couple trot transitions heading away from the barn and then headed back around the yard. She wanted to canter in the Scary Corner, but I didn’t let her, since I was ready to start taking a little more control. After turning the corner toward home, I sat and put my outside leg on. She didn’t take the canter, but I was heartened by the fact that she also didn’t kick out or take offense at my use of outside leg, so I turned her around and took her back to the corner (I wanted to start by asking her to canter in a spot where she likes to canter anyway). This time she took the canter, and kept it up when I asked. There was no kicking out, head throwing or ear pinning. I was so happy to have finally asked her to canter successfully. It was a great way to end the ride.

On Sunday Sofie was a bit of a fruitcake in the aisle, staring out the various doors and getting all concrete-necked. She actually turned around at one point, and she knows not to move her feet. On most days, I can drop her lead rope and she will stand during the whole tacking up process, even if I leave her and go off to get something or change clothes. I got her turned back around and made her back up, then repositioned her, and she stood while I cleaned out her feet. After that I free schooled her, and she didn’t have a whole lot of energy in the indoor, although she did canter when I asked (I’ve been working on her free schooling, and she’s getting really good at it). Back in the aisle, she was still kind of spazzy. I didn’t feel how cold and windy it was outside, because it was also gorgeous and sunny and I had warmed up moving hay earlier in the day and apparently not cooled back down. But it was really quite cold and blustery, which explains her silliness.

I mounted up, leaving my whip behind and anticipating an interesting ride. But she walked around quite calmly on a long rein, and we had a nice warm up in the yard. Lately I’ve been riding her down the trail to warm her up, but I opted to stay in the yard for a change of pace. When I started trotting she didn’t move out terribly well, and she got upset when I dared to cluck at her. The Sofa has opinions about what is acceptable for me to ask of her, and although she responds well to my system of voice commands (double click for the trot, kiss for the canter) when I free school her, she tends to get mad when I try to incorporate them into our rides. When we got to one of her canter places, she decided to canter and then started screwing around, even throwing in a little bounce. So she got yelled at a few times, and I had my mom bring me Mr. Whip, since it seemed like Sofie was going to be a beyotch. But soon she seemed to get over herself, and she started trotting with more energy and throwing in canters without drama. She took me by surprise when she cantered while tracking right and took the right lead. The right is her bad side, and she rarely takes her right lead when I free school her (although she will happily counter canter all day long!), so I was pleased to see that she will take the right lead under weight. That should make things easier in the future!

She cantered quite a few times on her own, but I did ask for it a couple times, once while heading right, toward the barn (although it was really not much of an “ask”, she was so primed to canter). Her right lead felt great. She also cantered as I was riding her by the driveway, and I kept my inside rein on a bit, so she was on a slight bend. She didn’t protest, which was really nice (and surprising, since she definitely has opinions about contact at the canter!), and her canter just felt awesome. Whenever she canters on a bend she feels even more collected, and it makes me so eager for the day we can start working on our canter circles.

I wanted to try asking her to canter away from the barn, so I decided to go for it, and trotted her away from the barn, preparing her for the transition. I wound up riding her uphill, since it felt right, and I sat and asked lightly and she took her right lead for a few strides. It was a really nice canter, too. I was so happy with that. It may not seem like much, but with her soundness issues I’ve been letting her decide when and if she canters, and I haven’t asked her to canter in over a year. Over time I really lost my nerve and just seeing or thinking the word canter would make me anxious. Easing into it and stacking the odds in the favor of success has helped me get comfortable with cantering and taking charge again. I’m still not ready to ask her to canter anywhere in the yard, any time, no matter what, and I don’t feel the need right now, with her offering the canter as much as she is. But this is something. I’m more confident, she’s feeling better, and I love what we have right now.

I ended the ride with a short trail ride, and one more canter in the yard (I intended to ask her, but she was too quick to volunteer). I also did a couple halts and some rein-back. She got heavy in one rein-back, bracing against the reins, but when I tried again on a long rein, she responded to the lightest possible touch on the reins. When I went to get off, she nickered at me. It was really sweet.

When I cooled off and realized how cold and windy it was that day, I felt really proud of how good she was. She listened, for the most part, when I asked for transitions. She didn’t rush, and she didn’t drift, and except for those few minutes, she didn’t give me attitude. We rode for an hour, and all the trotting and cantering is bringing up her hay belly.

I didn’t get out to the barn until 5:00 on Tuesday, and we ended up bringing the horses in, so the Big Field was available for our ride. I free schooled Sofie in the outdoor, and she galloped back and forth, occasionally stomping with her front feet or flagging her tail like an Arabian. She also tried a sliding stop, which didn’t work out too well (and looked like it kind of hurt). I think her hocks will need to fuse before her reining career commences. She was very, very “keen” as we headed for the field, and she barely stopped to wait for the gate to open. But we managed to walk around on a long rein, even around the “scary” edge of the field, and warm up without incident. Sofie was eager to canter, but I did quite a bit of walk work to keep her focused and help her warm up further. She held herself together well, and paid attention to me, keeping the drifting and locking up to a minimum. She took her right lead across a hill, and I kept my outside rein on to keep her straight. She accepted it without kicking out or flinging her head, and I praised her heavily for that.

I kept her at a walk and trot for the majority of the ride, trying for softness and focus, but I asked her to canter across the field, uphill and to the right, and she took the canter, accepting my contact with her mouth. She cantered for longer than she does in the yard when I encouraged her to keep going, and the quality of her canter was really nice. Later on, we had another canter on the left lead. She was heading toward the barn, so her canter was a bit more forward, and after a few strides she heard or saw something twitch in the woods and went even more forward, but I went along with her and just enjoyed myself. She came back to me eventually, and I got her to collect a bit off my seat before breaking into a trot. It was so nice to just go for it and canter across a big field. She has such a fun canter.

I finished the ride with some nice, quiet walk-trot transitions, and for the most part she stayed very soft. She held up through all the canter work and hill work and never gave me any trouble. It was another great ride for us.

I’m glad we’re getting to have these rides. I wasn’t sure if she would come back in form after I started riding her again and she remained slightly reluctant, a little off, during most of our rides. But this month she’s on, and it reaffirms my decision to keep Sofie. I love her for the way she’ll stand in the aisle and listen to people talk. I love her beautiful walk and canter. I love her attitude, her unflinching honesty and how she challenges me. She’s my horse. She really is.



I have more pictures to post tomorrow, and hopefully I'll be able to write up a report of the awesome dressage clinic I audited last weekend. I have so much to write, and so many things to get done that prevent me for hunching over my computer. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Picture This (and video on demand!)





















video

video

Hope you enjoyed 'em. There's even a bit of cantering in that last video! Sofie is doing well, although she was feeling her field craziness a bit when I last rode her. It didn't stop her from cantering, though. Four times. The Sofa is out of control!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspired by WEG?



October continues to be a glorious riding month, and Sofie is responding to the ideal weather conditions. Our last three rides have been quite good. On Wednesday she looked very stiff when I free schooled her, but not so bad that I couldn't ride, so I saddled up and decided to go for a slight change of scenery. I rode Sofie in the outdoor arena (a large, squareish fenced field that is part of the mares' turnout area) for the first time in six months. Historically, Sofie does not like the outdoor. She generally responds to it with either spooky nuttiness, or sullen, backward-thinking baditude. But I felt like trying her in it again, and with her stiffness I didn't think she needed to be tackling hills, which are hard to avoid in the yard. So we worked in the outdoor for a while, and she was quite good, considering we were in the hated outdoor. We even trotted all the way around the perimeter a couple times, and although she got mad at times, her back feet never left the ground (always a win for us!). Eventually I got sick of riding around the outdoor on my semi-pissed off horse, so I rode out into the yard, went down the trail partway, and when I got back to the yard, she was a very different horse, trotting around with much more enthusiasm. She had more energy than she'd let on, so I took advantage of that and she worked up a bit of a sweat. Maybe she needs to go in the outdoor occasionally so she realizes how much she likes the yard?

Friday's ride was even better. We worked in the yard mostly, and she had good energy and was willing to stay in the trot, even through turns. She played around with bending at the poll and reaching for the bit, and we had shining moments of a nice connection. She was much better about accepting the outside rein and my corrections when she drifted, and she was just a lot of fun to ride. She cantered three times, one of which I asked for...I felt her revving up, and I sat and used my outside leg. She went into it without protesting, but I'm still not ready to just ask her out of the blue. Eventually, though! Her canter is still awesome. She's been cantering at the Scary Corner, and turning toward Judy's house so she ends up cantering up a slight hill (more of a workout for hill, so hey, go for it, Sofie). After I got done in the yard we went down the road, and she wasn't terribly great, but she wasn't terrible either. She just did her never-ending serpentine, and as we got closer to the end of the road, she started wanting to trot, and acted all nervous, which I really didn't buy, especially since she calmed down as soon as I turned her around. I don't think we'll be going on any long road rides anytime soon, but I am getting more comfortable riding her on the road, even when she's spazzy, and it's a nice change of pace when the conditions are right.

On Sunday I went to the barn later in the afternoon and watched the WEG at Judy's. The show jumping was awesome. It was cool to see the top four riders switch horses, and my favorite moment was when Abdullah Al Sharbatly, a Saudi Arabian rider who came from way behind to get in the top four rode Hickstead, an amazing horse (hotter than hell, though). The guy looked absolutely terrified, and of course Hickstead fed off of that and just ROARED around the coarse, bolting off the last fence. I've never seen a rider lean back so far, with the exception of bareback bronc riders at the rodeo. Very entertaining stuff. He did get the horse stopped, though, and he got around the course clear, earning a silver medal (and Hickstead earned Best Horse after taking no rails!).



So after watching that, I went out to ride my Sofa. She free schooled awesome, listening very well and cantering on cue and for as long as I wanted. She even took her right lead once! I was encouraged by that (if a little nervous about her feeling TOO good), and I tacked her up and rode her directly out to the Big Field. There had been all kinds of heavy equipment craziness going on at the neighbors' place, but that all shut down before we got out there. However, there was another distraction in the form of two other horses (GASP) being ridden out there at the same time (NO WAY). Sofie...needs work being ridden with other horses. In the indoor she's fine (if a bit defensive, but it's a small space, so I don't blame her), but out in the Big Field, she tends to hone in on what the other horses are doing. I think she goes back to her rental-horse instincts, because she seems to think that she needs to follow the other horses and do whatever they're doing. Which leads to misunderstandings. For example.

Sofie: OMG They're going that way! I need to go with them!
Me: No, you don't. You need to keep listening to me.
Sofie: OMG THEY'RE CANTERING! I'M SUPPOSED TO BE CANTERING TOO!
Me: No! Pay attention! Do not take off across this field!
Sofie: I'm just trying to do my JOB here. Jeez.
Me: No, what you're doing is drifting and thinking about bolting.
Sofie: All these dressage terms are really confusing me. My life used to be so simple.
Me: Yeah, and your feet used to hurt all the time, too. Pay attention.

She actually did much better this time, though. She could have listened better, but it was a very fun ride. I didn't take my whip along, which proved to be a wise decision (I only needed it once, and she responded to my leg and a strong verbal "Hey!"). She was badass. She had a ton of energy (sometimes it tended toward the "spazzy" side rather than the "productive" side, but whatever) and we trotted all over, did impromptu hill work (what you do when your horse won't stop trotting) and enjoyed quite a few canters (not one of which did I ask for, btw). She did a bit of subtle head-throwing in most of her canters, suggesting that she could, possibly, stomp me into the ground, but little half halts kept her tough talk to just talk, and I made sure I was leaning back a bit. Her canters were fantastic, particularly when she decided to make a half circle. Her self-carriage is just phenomenal, and her canter is so soft and uphill and "collected" (I use that term very, very loosely). In between all this craziness, we did manage to walk calmly through the scary places in the field, and toward the end of the ride we worked on halts. But mostly she motored around, semi-in control, and I just enjoyed the ride. It was good to have a ride like that. I need one like that, just every once in a while, to help me keep the faith when she has bad days and can barely trot and is acting like a beyotch. When this horse is on, she is the most fun to ride. Ever.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We're Alright

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Last Friday, I got sick, and it hit me hard enough that I spent three days at home. It's not like me to miss a ride (I've been referred to as "dedicated" many a time by my barn owner), but I was just too sick. So Sofie had Friday and Saturday off, and on Sunday my mom went to the barn and longed her while I stayed home, blowing my nose and coughing every five seconds. Fortunately, I also got to watch five hours of WEG coverage (eventing, reining, and even dressage. Yes, they showed my boring sport on TV!). On Monday, I finally felt okay enough to drag myself to the barn and ride. As luck would have it, Judy and a boarder were going on a trail ride, so Sofie and I got to lead on the trail. A nice walking trail ride makes a good warmup.

Then I worked Sofa in the yard, and she was actually quite good. The weather was lovely and borderline hot for fall, and she trotted out willingly. I found that she did better if I kept her in a trot for a bit longer, rather than trying to do transitions all the time. She did pretty well with her turns (we had a few ugly ones, and she can't sustain a bend very well, but I can't nitpick at her too badly for that). Her ears were moving around more, rather than staying back unhappily, and the tail swishing was kept to a minimum (unlike a couple of the medal-winning dressage horses at the WEG...). She was rather heavy in the mouth, and I had to use my hands more than I like to in order to keep her from drifting. I'm a bit unsatisfied with how I'm able to handle her drifting, and I wish I had a good trainer to work with, but I don't. I've been using a leading outside rein and inside leg to correct her, and it seems like we are both very dependant on the right rein. She's duller on that side of her mouth, and I always have a stronger contact on the right rein. If I try to release that rein, she pretty much falls in dramatically. I'm thinking I need to try something different. Maybe circling when she falls in and bringing her right back to where she was would help, since she's doing better with her turns. I just hate that heavy, uneven feelig, and I don't know what to do about it.

But even though I was having to be heavier with my hands than I like, and she did get inverted at times, she tolerated it well and didn't have any fits. And I worked her pretty well in the yard and then took her down the road. We almost had another dog issue, but fortunately the dog's owner saw us coming (even before I saw her dog was out), and she called her dog back in. Thank you, lady, for being with it! Sofie was rather drifty and inattentive on the road (probably because it was getting close to feeding time, oh noes!) but she was fairly good. She did attempt to rush up out of the ditch at one point, but she didn't pick up her feet and she stumbled pretty dramatically. She didn't try that again. Love it when they self-discipline.

So even though it was a bit rough, it was still better than what we have been doing, and if I think back to how she used to be, we are making progress. And after trying out what seemed like a promising horse, I've come to realize that Sofie, despite all her issues, is one of the nicest horses I've ever ridden, and the horse I've come to prefer.

Although I wouldn't mind taking on this horse after he gets all arthritic and can't hold up to Grand Prix anymore. He's absolutely lovely, and wonderfully free of pissed-off tail swishing and tension (although he does slobber a lot...maybe he has a copper bit in his mouth and he hates the taste). His canter, especially, is stunning, particularly in the pirouettes, which are often labored and front-heavy in today's "cranked-in" dressage horses. Anyway, enjoy the video!