Sunday, 29 September 2013

Saddle Trial

So on Friday I finally got my hands on the used saddles I had shipped.  I got two: a Barnsby wide and a Collegiate with exchangeable gullet.  Luckily, the lady I spoke with was able to include the medium wide gullet for the Collegiate which was a good thing because it's exactly the size he needs.

Unfortunately, that meant that the Barnsby did not fit.  Too wide.  I am kicking myself for not shipping a third saddle to try.  

Anyway, that left me with the Collegiate.  I was on the fence about the whole exchangeable gullet thing, but I must say that this saddle fits Walker relatively well.  The only beef I have with the fit is that it requires a wedge to jack up the back to make it level.  I'm slightly iffy on buying a saddle that requires props, but Walker has no topline right now and always seems to have a "dippy" back anyway - if you know what I mean.  The Barnsby was going to require that too, so maybe he's just cursed with that.  Honestly, a $50 fix isn't that bad, I guess.

With regards to how it fits me, I'm on the fence.  It seems to fit seat-size-wise and is generally comfy except for one thing.  You know the buckles on the top of the stirrup that hide under the flap underneath your thigh?  I'm sure there is a name for that part on the saddle, but I've often noticed that some English saddles give me bruises from there - sometimes severe bruises.  Although I have no bruises from having ridden in it for two days straight, I get this sneaky feeling that it doesn't fit me correctly there.  But I mean, I played around with my leg and I can't understand how other riders wouldn't feel the same thing.  I don't know.  Maybe it's my stirrup leathers, which are cheap and probably need replacing anyway. Or maybe my thighs are just disproportionately huge.  Who knows.

All I know is that it's generally comfy and survived the Walker-buck-test where he had a mini meltdown and I didn't go flying off.  Or maybe you could say I survived the Walker-buck-test.  *Side note: it was one of Walker's best bucks in months.  Props to him for trying.

I have until Wednesday to decide, but I will probably only get to ride in it one more time.  On the one hand, I don't want to keep a saddle that isn't an "oh my god I have to have it" saddle, but on the other hand, it is a process to try and fit your saddle without access to a saddle fitter or someone who can at least give you lots of different saddles to try.  I'm essentially distance-fitting my horse, and I don't want to eat up all my saddle money with shipping fees.  I kind of feel like I should keep it or else risk going months without another one.

I was happy that I could fit my whole hand in here
Taking all my saddles out to the barn.
I caught some stranger staring in my back seat today
Generally good fit for me, right?  Right?

Thursday, 26 September 2013


Wednesday I had another great lesson, which was good since I was a zombie on Tuesday. In fact, at one point I thought I might have to cancel my lesson but the thought of good money going to waste gave me the strength to persevere.

I rode a new horse, Bentley. Apparently he's "a little green" in some things but no one ever elaborated what those things were. The only thing I noticed was he was pretty forward at times and sometimes preferred to fast trot instead of canter. But once I knew what I was dealing with, I didn't really have any problems, although I kept losing my stirrup at the canter. Bouncy canter + slippery saddle + my inability to keep my heels down with short stirrups

After some warm up we got to business. L set up a gymnastic for me (my first gymnastic). First it was just trot set to pole to pole, then trot set to pole to crossrail until finally it was a trot set to a crossrail to a two foot vertical. It was also the first time I cantered a jump (at least a vertical).

Watch out, Ian Millar. I'm gunning for your spot on the Olympic team.

After the lesson, B was there riding Brio and showed me a good exercise to get Walker working on the bit. I decided to go grab him, sans saddle, and worked on her exercise for 15 - 20 minutes bareback.

My discovery: I can get Walker on the bit, which I guess I knew. I just can't keep him on the bit. She pretty much convinced me to stop being unrealistic and to give the pony a chance to build up his strength. Touché.

Then I did some bareback cantering, almost fell off rounding the corner, righted myself, and praised the pony for being a good sport.

Friday I will finally have the saddles to try and I'll be sure to give a full update.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Time Off

I woke up this morning and felt like someone beat me with a bag of bricks. In light of that discovery, I have decided to take the week off from Walker for the first time since getting him. I have been forced to take long periods of time off before (try 6 months) but I'm actually choosing to give us a break for a change.

I still intend to do my lesson Wednesday, assuming I feel ok, and so I will check on the little darling while I'm there.

I do plan to be back in the saddle by Friday though. Especially since I should get my two saddles in the mail to try out. Hopefully one of them fits him ok. I will be extremely discouraged if I have to start the saddle hunt all over again.

And I have to admit that if ever there were a good week to feel sick and take a week off from your horse, it would be Fall Premiere Week on TV!

Saturday, 21 September 2013


I went out to the barn yesterday only to discover that there was a clinic going on.  That meant no riding in the indoor arena.

So off I go to the outdoor arena, but it was extremely windy.  The wind has a tendency to blow straight through Walker's ears and wake the little demons that live in his head.  Needless to say my ride lasted approximately 5 minutes before I chose to bail off (not literally, but almost literally) and opt to lunge instead.  He was simply all over the place and threatening to rear/buck/bolt.  I figured that with an entire barn full of people, the last thing I wanted was someone to say, "Why is Natalie galloping towards the highway?"

The lunging confirmed much of this.  He pretty much cantered non-stop, showing off his flying lead changes for no apparent reason.  He was also impersonating a barrel horse and cantering at a 45 degree angle.  I'm glad that no one was watching that performance as well.

I had a few observations while lunging:
1) He really wasn't stepping up under himself and into his tracks at the trot, which makes me suspicious about the "great trotting" I've been getting out of him under saddle.  Perhaps it's not as effective as I thought.
2) He puts himself into a "behind the bit" position while cantering on the lunge line as well.
3) He also opens his mouth angrily when he's in that position the way he does when I'm riding.

The next time I ride, I think I'm going to try my Western bridle and old Western bit.  I don't want to bit up to get him to go on the bit, but I'm just going to see what kind of effect it has.  Maybe it's just a matter of getting him on the bit whichever way I can, building the muscles in his neck back up, and then slowly working back down to a gentler bit.  Who knows.  I'm nothing if not persistent.

Off the Bit

As we speak, the saddle fairies are sending Walker two used dressage saddles to try out in a week or so, and last night, Walker made it extremely clear that he had no intention of being a dressage pony at all - not even a make-believe dressage pony.  Try as I might, I could not get that little [insert choice word here] to go on the bit.

Sweaty pony - ignore that non-sweaty spot
which proves that my saddle doesn't fit
I used to think that I was simply incompetent.  This is a legit belief.  After all, I read everything.  I have read Jane Savoie's Dressage 101 cover to cover.  I read every article I find online.  I watch people.  I talk to people.  I participate.  But in the year and a half that I've had Walker, I've rarely, if ever, had him on the bit.

Then I started taking lessons on other people's ponies, and lo and behold, I can round those little buggers up like a ball of elastics so that they're bouncing along happily on the bit.  I exaggerate obviously, but the point is that I can get a horse on the bit.  I am clearly not the imbecile I assumed I was.  I ain't no Dressage Queen, but I generally know where all my body parts should be while riding.

Then why can't I get my own horse on the bit?  Probably because I ruined him somewhere along the way.  Probably because he's so damn resistant.  Even when I'm wearing my "motivational speaking tools" (as my friend S calls spurs) and even when I'm sending him forward, I'm not capturing him in my hands, if you know what I'm sayin'.  He resists that portion of the connection.  Don't get me wrong.  He loves to go behind the bit.  And he loves to chomp on the bit like an angry child.  But if I get him on the bit, it lasts for 0.2 seconds and then he's back to doing whatever he was doing the other 99.9% of the ride.

Even his ears were sweating
I've done circles.  I've done rein backs.  I've done turns and lateral work and all that juicy good stuff.  I have no doubt that an extremely accomplished rider could get Walker on the bit.  In fact, I've seen it.  No problems.  But clearly they are channeling powers from the beyond that I'm obviously not tapped into.

Seriously, I hope my barn owner doesn't watch my ride on the cameras last night.  I probably looked like Cruella Deville at the end of 101 Dalmatians, all orange-eyed and hair like Medusa as I tried anything I could think of to force the reaction I wanted.  I got a few good seconds and have a few more tricks left to try, but seriously - Walker will be the death of me.  I swear.  Death by frustration.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Wednesday and Beyond

I had every intention of writing about Wednesday's lesson on, you know, Wednesday, but the week got away with me.

Wednesday I rode Cheyenne again.  We worked on a bunch of different things, including some simple lead changes.  We also worked on trotting and cantering a circle.  L set up two poles side by side and I had to trot/canter in a circle with the same amount of strides on each side of the circle.  So, like, impossible.  Each side of the circle was drastically different.  I was essentially trotting an iceberg.

Anyway, then we did a little jumping.  You know, the fun stuff.  She set up two crossrails and I had two run-outs.  My first run-outs.  Not that this is something to be proud of.  Both times were my fault.  The first time, I don't know where my brain went, but about 2 strides before the jump, I just took my leg off and my mind got frazzled.  Frazzled minds are contagious so Cheyenne decided to go around the jump instead.

The second time she ran out, she was clearly seeing if she could get away with it since I gave her the precedent.  Needless to say, she did not do that again.

Then, I went over the crossrail again and as I was rounding the corner, all I heard L say was, "So don't panic".  When I came around the circle, she had bumped the next jump up - to a 2 foot vertical.  Baby's first real vertical.  I was so freaking excited.  I got left behind on the first attempt, especially since Cheyenne likes to over jump.  I think that L thought I would just do it once, but she clearly doesn't know how keen I am.  I asked to do it again and ended up doing it a good few times after that.  Obviously my position needed work, but I had one really good one where I felt good and L said I looked good.

Then I moved on to Walker.  I tacked up the ponykins and headed to the arena.  All of sudden, about 10 minutes in, a wave of exhaustion just rushed over me.  I don't know what it was.  I mean, obviously I was tired, but I guess the week just caught up to me.  I literally had to force myself to ride for another 15 minutes because, well, 10 minutes does not a ride make.

I came straight home and conked out an hour earlier than I normally do.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


I've been super behind on everyone's blogs. I apologize about that. At work they have this weird thing where they expect me to work and not read horse-related articles and blogs all day, and then I've been trying to make the most out of my evenings home. You know, I thought I'd ride instead of talking about riding.

And let's not lie. I've also discovered Fall TV, thanks to my gracious parents who offered to get their poor, literally starving daughter cable.

Anyway, I went out to the barn today even though it took all my energy to get out there. I'm telling you, these weekdays are killing me - especially the ones where there are lessons until 8 and I can't ride until after that. Apparently there's a rule where you can ride in the arena during a lesson, but Walker is a show stealer. I don't want to be responsible for a mass riot.

Tonight I rode the entire time without reins.  I sometimes put a little no-rein work in the way some people put in no-stirrup work, but today I just did everything without reins.  It's a great exercise to show you where you're lacking in your cues with your seat and legs.  For instance, I can get Walker to turn on a dime in either direction at the walk, but at the trot, he resists turning to the left more so than the right.  Instead, he sometimes speeds up when I apply leg even though I do the same thing going to the right without issue.  Clearly I'm being inconsistent - either in how I'm asking him to speed up or how I'm asking him to turn in that direction.  At the canter we didn't really have that problem as much since he's already naturally bent in one direction.  Although, I must say, I got a flying lead change out of him with no reins - proud mama!  Mind you, as I've said before, he just changes whenever we switch directions and he finds it easier for himself.  So don't read too much into it!

Other than that, I was heartbroken to discover that it is now getting dark around 8 PM.  I swear that last week it was light out until midnight - well, not midnight, but you get me.  I was also distressed that some people have begun blanketing their horses.  Hold on!  It's still only September.  If I blanket the little bugger now, he'll be a total princess by January.  My only concern at the barn is the timed lighting which, legend says, keeps the horses from growing as thick of a winter coat.  I like my woolly mammoth in the winter.  Saves me the cost of mending blankets.  Here's hoping I don't have to go out and buy more!

Monday, 16 September 2013

That Canter Please

I hoped on Sunday that B would be at the barn to go for another trail ride but she was nowhere to be found so I decided to simply ride in the outdoor arena. 

It was the first time we've ridden in the outdoor arena (really ridden) alone. Another set of firsts, I suppose.

Not surprisingly, Walker was a jerk. He went to great lengths just to put one of his dainty little hooves outside the ring just so that he could prove that I was not the boss of him. This resulted in a couple good bolts on his behalf (I can't help but applaud his ingenuity and determination) and for the most of our ride, we simply hopped sideways along the long end of each side of the arena.

As usual, when Walker and I fight, I have the best rides. Weird. I know. But his canter was the best canter we have ever done. He felt perfectly collected, coiled like a spring (probably due to the tension and anger) and we just bounced along. Gorgeous.

After 30 minutes of that, I let him walk out of the ring and partway down the trail for a few minutes. He seemed a little on edge - not spooky, just acutely aware of his surroundings - which I guess is fair since its his second trail ride ever and he was the sole horse. We didn't go far. I just wanted him to remember that he likes trails and that we don't necessarily need company.

We meandered back and then I gave him a full shampoo/conditioner/whitener bath. He smelled lovely.

Saturday, 14 September 2013


Friday I had one of those 50/50 rides where 50% of the time Walker was ignoring me and 50% of the time, he was doing what he should but I was failing him as a rider.  It started out that I couldn't get him to really move out at the trot, regardless of all my usual tricks - transitions, turning, etc.  I figured that maybe I had been schooling him too hard on some of these things so I decided to take it easy.  Of course, the minute I put him on a loose rein and resigned myself to a simple hack, he kicks it up a gear and really started to move nicely.  Unfortunately, at this moment, I decided I should work on my seat/hands/legs/etc and ended up really being more of a hindrance than anything else.  Oh well.  You win some; you lose some.

Today I had a fantastic ride though.  I arrived at the barn in the afternoon and found one of the women, S, literally walking around and around the barn on her horse.  She invited me to go outside with them (to the scary unfenced outdoor arena), and although I normally like to warm Walker up indoors first (read: wear him out), I decided to just go with it.

Outside, he was everything I expected him to be.  He continuously tried to put just one foot outside the arena boundaries, just to show me whose boss, but S, who was watching, had me just figure-eight him at the trot for awhile to get his mind working again.

After about 10 minutes of that, S went inside and B (who was riding her horse during all this) asked if I wanted to go on a trail ride.

I am fortunate enough that Walker's outside problems are only defiance: he doesn't want to work.  But he's not spooky and he loves the trails.  So out we went to wander through the woods.  And when I say trails, I mean, some of them were normal trails that could fit a couple horses side by side, but some of them were like hacking through the brush - barely as wide as a horse and possibly just deer or moose trails.  B is new to the barn too so she has been just exploring them on her own.

At one point, Walker decided he didn't want to walk through a puddle so he went around.  There was a huge low-lying branch which I thought would either bend or break.  It didn't.  The next thing I knew, I was hanging over the edge of my saddle, both feet in the stirrups but my head down near my right ankle and my other foot way up in the air.  God bless Walker.  The minute he felt the shift in weight, he stopped immediately and I was able to scramble up into my saddle again.  B, who is an older woman, simply exclaimed: "I don't think I could have bent like that!"  Yeah.  I didn't think I could either!

We had a pretty great trail ride all in all.  We did some trotting and cantering through the woods and really just explored.  Even though it didn't feel like we worked hard, Walker was drenched with sweat by the time we got back and it was definitely 10x better than anything we could have done on the arena.  Here's hoping I can get us out on the trails a few more times before the snow and ice hits!

Friday, 13 September 2013

I Hate People

I'm sorry that I haven't been posting regularly (or keeping up on other people's blogs) but it seems I can't find a good schedule for riding Walker now that I take lessons on Wednesdays and Thursday are out of the question. We've been bumbling around with me trying to not let him have too much time off and him... well, I'm sure he doesn't care.

This week has been exceptionally messy. I took Monday off like usual (which I may need to change to another day), but then my mom came to visit Tuesday so I missed that day. Then Wednesday was a roller coaster ride.

It started out being a bad day at work but I had my lesson that night. I rode Cheyenne. When I got on, L said, "Cheyenne is a pony mare. That should tell you everything you need to know." Yep. Spookiest little pony ever. EVERY time we passed one particular corner, I would have to boot her forward. It was exhausting. She's also got quite the little jump on her. In that regard, she was great! We had a wonderful jump school and I did my first baby hunter course ever! 

After the lesson, I summoned the energy to ride Walker for 30 minutes or so. Nothing major to report. I just put him through his paces.

Then I came home to the cops on my doorstep.

Yep. The cops.

Apparently the neighbours made a noise complaint against the dog. Don't get me wrong. She barks A LOT, but she's one year old and I've only had her for maybe three weeks. I've been trying to work with some dog trainers, and I feel like we've been making progress. 

Which the neighbours might have learned had they complained to me first. Before calling the COPS! They even told the police officer that they had complained to me. Which is a lie.

These are the same neighbours who have locked their three year old in the hallway as punishment. But I'm the one with the cops on my doorstep.

My mom happened to be visiting so she took Izzy home with her for awhile. This is [hopefully] just a temporary fix.  That being said, I'm not the dog whisperer. I take her for daily walks, work on her obedience, etc. She is still a dog. And dogs bark.

As if that wasn't crazy enough, at 7 am the next morning, the neighbours get into a huge fight. The man storms off and the woman calls 911. Bright and early in the morning, she summons the whole kitten caboodle to wake up our apartment building - cops, ambulance, fire department. 

Yet I'm the one with the noise complaint.
One of the last pictures I got before sending her home with my mom :(

Sunday, 8 September 2013


Today I decided to follow my formula for Saturday's ride.  We did a lot of the same things in five minute intervals, but I also added five minutes of flying lead changes and counter canter.

Walker is pretty good at flying lead changes, but not because of anything I do.  He's a simple guy.  Canter a figure eight, and he will probably do a flying lead change to make life easier for himself.  Sometimes I get really nice changes, like the other day where it felt like a kickstart, and sometimes they are seamlessly smooth (or potentially nonexistent).

Sometimes Walker and I do this with his bridle
I'm ashamed to say that I have a hard time telling if Walker is on the wrong lead.  There's something about the quality of his canter that is really smooth whether he's on the wrong lead or not.  Sometimes it will feel choppy if he's on the wrong lead, but most times I simply have to look down to check.  This makes schooling the counter canter a challenge.

That being said, I'm pretty proud of him.  I just started simple.  I asked for the bend and counter canter along one long end of the arena and then let him go back to a trot before the corner.  He can barely bend when we're cantering on the correct lead, so I figured that asking him to counter canter a circle is presumptuous of me.

Not surprisingly, he was pretty good at picking up his good lead in the wrong direction, but in pure Walker fashion, he was outright appalled that I should dare ask him to pick up his bad lead in his good direction.  I mean, who do I think I am? He decided he should put me in my place with a few good bucks and then to show me the error of my ways, he would pick up the correct lead instead.

I managed to get a few strides out of him before he promptly did a flying lead change to correct me, and I decided to leave it at that.  We've never schooled them before so the fact that I got one good long end (twice!) of counter canter on his good lead and a few strides of his bad is good enough for our first time.

Then I cooled him off for longer than usual (because I was chatting with a fellow boarder), brought him in, gave me treats and kisses, and went on my merry way.  I plan to see him Tuesday unless the week falls apart... as it has a tendency to do.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

"For My Horse"

So Walker ended up getting three days off by accident.  I rode him Monday, then had some dog issues to deal with on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I had my lesson.  I was going to ride him after I rode Drifter, but I was exhausted.  I intend to do that in the future though.  Unfortunately, I can't ride Thursdays anymore and didn't know until a few hours before I got ready to go.  My barn owner rents out his indoor arena to the dog agility people on Thursday nights for the Winter so that they have somewhere to practice.  Sigh.  Oh well.

I rode Friday night and it was a disaster.  Well, that's not entirely true.  It wasn't much worse than our normal frustrating rides, only I had memories of my fantastic ride on Drifter which made the frustration sting all the more.  

For my whores horse
Then I decided to treat Walker for thrush because he's been getting a bit lately.  The new stuff I bought is blue, and I ended up spilling it all over the barn floor.  So at 10 PM at night, I was like Cinderella trying to scrub the floor.  And that stuff stinks!  I got it all over my hands and couldn't get the smell off.

Today, I went back out to the barn with a better mindset and had a much more successful ride.  I broke my ride up into 5 minute chunks. I have a short attention span while riding, and so 5 minutes of working on one particular thing is perfect for me - 2.5 minutes in each direction and then on to a new activity.  My 35 minute ride looked like:

- 5 minute warm up at the walk
- 5 minute jog
- 5 minute changing directions (turn on the forehand) and transitions from walk to trot
- 5 minute trot at a nice pace (once his mind got working)
- 5 minute changing directions (turn on the forehand) and transitions from walk to canter
- 5 minute figure eights - trot and canter
- 5 minute cool down at the walk

I also forgot to mention that one of the Canadian tack shops got back to me about a few potential used saddles for Walker.  I'm just waiting on a couple pictures and then intend to order one this week.  Who knows if it will fit but I'm hopeful that it will do the trick.  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Super Fantabulous Day!

Today was one of those days that went from really bad to really great in the matter of a few hours.

Remember when I said my animals drive me crazy?  Well, I came home today to find that the cat had knocked over a glass cup and there were shards of glass everywhere.  Meanwhile, the dog had been sick (and probably ate some glass), and she also peed in her crate.  Add this to the fact that I ran out of gas on the way home from work, and I ran out of time to cook supper so I had to eat McDonalds on the fly instead.

But then I went to the barn.  And I had my first lesson in several months.  And it was a jump lesson.  And now I'm a happy cookie.

I rode a horse named Drifter who is a cute little mare.  People seemed slightly confused that I wasn't riding my own horse, but I would rather spend my money riding a horse in the lesson who is already in shape.  I also wanted to learn how to jump (as you all know by now), and Walker is not allowed to do that anymore.  My current (theoretical) plan is to get Walker in shape and potentially put him in a second lesson to work on Walker-centric things while I continue to learn to jump in the other lesson.  If you're wondering how I intend to pay for this, you are not alone.  For each horse expense I add, I just buy less groceries.  Seems legit.

Anyway, I LOVE my new instructor (we shall call her "L").  I wasn't in the saddle two seconds before she was explaining my stirrup length (which takes a lot of getting used to, might I add), and how to do two-point.  Obviously, I've done two-point before, but tonight it just felt like it was really clicking.  Perhaps it's just that I spent 6 months dreaming and lusting over riding, but my mind was instantly in gear.

We worked on some transitions and did some three-loop serpentines.  We worked on our two point, and I'm pretty sure that I could hear my calves crying out in pain.  When it came time to canter, L said to me, "You have a fantastic seat!  Whoever taught you your seat should be praised."  And I'm pretty sure my ego swelled to the size of my head.  It doesn't matter to me that my two-point was trash, and I kept dropping my outside rein to my hip (like I've been growled about for probably 2 years straight).  SHE TOLD ME I HAD A NICE SEAT.  I was pretty much ready to marry her on the spot.

And we actually jumped a crossrail.  And even though I've jumped a crossrail on Walker before, this is the first non-Walker horse I've jumped.  And you know what?  We didn't do too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Funny Farm

Chester laying on the dog's crate even though
he knows it drives the dog crazy
The beasts be driving me bonkers lately.

I love all my brood, but they're really grating on my nerves.  Perhaps it's just the fact that summer is over and I'm cranky about it.  No, probably not.  It probably has something to do with the fact that from the moment I'm in the door, either the cat or the dog are whining in my face, or ripping the blanket off the couch, or taking eachother's toys, or fighting eachother for time with me.  This is why I don't have a boyfriend, y'all.

Have I ever told you my theory that I always end up with difficult animals?

Chester, the cat, is a hellraiser.  He goes where he wants, when he wants.  This might sound like any cat you've ever met, but I assure you that anyone who ever meets him remarks on how he's just a little more "my way or the highway" than most cats.  He lays on the table while I eat supper, and try as I might for five years, I cannot discipline that cat.  He cries outside the bedroom door at all hours of the night, and I find cat hair in basically everything I eat.  He is currently licking my shoulder.

Izzy preparing to tear apart my couch
just to hide her bone
Izzy, the dog, may be the death of me.  She barks at everything and she whines constantly to go outside.  She loves the outside so much but no amount of time can ever placate her.  If we went on a camping trip and lived outside for a week, I have no doubt that the next day she would whine all day to go back outside.  She follows me everywhere, so much so that I have taken up closing the door every time I go into the bathroom - if even just to brush my teeth - so I can have at least 2 seconds alone.

Walker is no better.  Which I'm sure you already know if you've been keeping up.  Never have I met a horse who would fight you over the stupidest little things.  For almost 6 months when I got him, he would not canter in one particular corner of the outdoor arena.  I mean, he would canter beautifully around the entire arena but the minute he got to that corner (which wasn't even the corner with the gate in it!) he would stop cantering - no matter how hard I kicked, spurs or crops included.  This is just one in a series of stupid little things he decides he is or isn't going to do.  Once he's through with one annoying habit, he quickly finds a new one to replace it.

Don't get me wrong.  I love them all dearly, and I know that this is the bargain we make for our relationship with animals.

But so help me god, some days I just want to leave the  door open (stall door or otherwise) and say, "Be free, animals.  Return to the wild."

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Saturday Nights

Saturday night Walker was also pretty slow moving.  It was really muggy and I attribute some of his laziness to that, but I really hope that I can get him moving out again.  We didn't have an overly productive ride because both of us were sweating profusely.  I drug a few poles out and set one on each end of the arena - well, only three because they were the heavy solid wood ones and I was lazy.

Another book I got for my birthday.
Obviously we don't event, but hey, maybe some
day, right?
We did our usual transitions, trotted and cantered over the poles, and did some lateral movements over the poles as well. I would get him to have two feet on either end of the pole and then move along laterally both ways over the pole like they do in the trail classes.  It's funny because I always see people have such a hard time with this exercise but Walker's really good at it.  

I also worked a little bit more on my "no hands, no legs" exercises.  I often like to drop the reins completely or drape them over the horn (if I'm riding Western) and maneuver Walker completely with my legs.  We are pretty phenomenal at the walk (if I do say so myself - and I do!), but I often do it a little bit at the trot as well.  On Friday night, I decided we'd do it at the canter too.  On Saturday night, I dropped the reins and my stirrups.  I figured that it was the ultimate seat-building episode - you can't rely on your hands and you really need to use your legs and seat properly.  

Not long after that, another girl showed up at the barn and brought her horse into the arena to hand-walk.  I tried to keep working but then just succumbed to chitchat.  I decided that we probably got 90% done of what we were going to accomplish anyway, so I hosed the pony off and put him to bed.

Oh, and apparently there was some discussion at the barn about whether or not I was "taking" (read: stealing) extra hay.  I guess hay has been going missing and because I'm the newest border, some people thought that I was taking extra for Walker.  Luckily, some people stuck up for me.  I most certainly do not take things without asking!  I can understand why I would be the first one they suspected, but still!