On Tuesday evening I fell in my house (NOT off a horse) and I ended up with two scraped and bruised knees, a scraped foot, a scrape down my right arm, and shaken confidence about my walking. I had been practicing holding my head up when I walked so I would form a good habit for my riding instead of what I really needed to do, looking down to where my feet go. Since my fall I am putting practicing good riding posture while I walk into the failed experiment column. When I got to the stable on Wednesday morning for my lesson I told Debbie about my fall and asked if I could ride Mia instead since I was not up to anything exacting. Since Mick’s cribbing collar had caused a sore and Mick was out of sorts Debbie cheerfully agreed and got Mia. I told Debbie she would probably have to get after me more to keep my head up and my back straight since I had gone back to looking down at my feet. As Debbie had suggested last week I switched back to my Crosby “Wide Front” saddle and I took all the shims out of my Corrector pad just to see how it would work out.
I felt so much better riding in my Crosby! Mia did not seem affected too much, at least until I asked her to extend her trot and she just would not do it. Extending the walk was fine, doing the regular trot was fine, but extending the trot was a NO, NO, NO. So I backed off and figured that the saddle might have been a little too much forward on her back and interfering some with the top of her shoulders. Since we have had a warm spell this week Mia’s been thinking that maybe it is spring and her hormones have started raging again. She was ALWAYS checking where her love was and did not like going anywhere she could not see Quizzy--like turning and walking away from her. This made keeping constant contact with the bit futile, probably a good thing since my right arm was not working quite right. So I did the best I could, keeping my seat balanced and light in the saddle, and I had a pretty good ride--at least I wasn’t fighting with my saddle! I did add the rear shims when I got home though since the cantle was a little low.
Friday morning was FOGGY. I gave Mia her coat fungus treatment (brushing her with a slicker brush for dogs) and trimmed her feet. While I was trimming her feet a blacksmith was trying to corrective shoe a mare with an attitude, a really bad attitude, in the wash stall. The blacksmith finally told the mare’s owner that he needed to have the mare sedated so he would be able to do the corrective work properly. I do not blame the blacksmith at all. This mare kept on trying to pin him against the wall, cow-kicked constantly, and disagreed with him every time he tried to hold a hoof up. He kept nice and quiet, all the problem was in the mare. This really made me appreciate Mia, standing nice and quietly for me, and while she does kick some because holding her hind feet up hurts her hocks, Mia and I have come to an agreement. I know she has to kick some and it is all right so long the hind hoof goes straight forward and back, I do not allow cow-kicking! Of course when I started trimming Mia years ago she was a lot worse than she is now but as she never threatened me with bodily harm I kept on trimming her. When it came time to put the saddle on I put it on her back first, without the pad so I could see where the saddle came to a natural rest. Then, remembering that place exactly, I put the Corrector and the saddle on, it ended up around 1 1/2 inches further back than on Wednesday, definitely behind the top of her shoulders. Even the front of the Corrector was behind her shoulder tops. Mia seemed fine with it.
Once we stepped out of the barn Mia tensed up because it was FOGGY. Oh my, Mia was convinced that she had to be able to whirl and bolt away instantly because who knew what was hidden in the fog? Imagining ghosts, goblins, ghouls, basilisks and dragons, Mia minced around the ring ever ready to bolt away from monsters to save her life. At first she just would not go down to the far end of the ring. She stopped and I counted to 10, 20, 30, 35 before she looked away from the scariest patch of fog. After 15 minutes of walking around she finally consented to go down to that end of the ring. The judging stand was another source of pure terror, and, horrors of horrors, someone had moved the flower boxes to the sides of the jumps! I am not proud, several times I was grabbing Mia’s mane when Mia was considering bolting even though I was holding my RS-tor firmly in my hand. We spent a good part of the ride with Mia, transfixed on and trembling at imagined ghouls, frozen into place while I counted to 10 before giving her a leg aid to move on. Finally Mia decided that the ghouls were not there and she switched her attention to Quizzy and gave a long, low nicker. Then I did send Mia firmly into contact, finally trotted some, and spent the last few minutes of my ride concentrating on keeping contact with her mouth and Mia’s attention on me.
Today Bobby gave me my best ride of the week. It is warm today, it was in the upper 60’s F when I got to Shannon’s farm, and Bobby looked miserable in his long, thick winter coat. Poor guy, he could not take his warm coat off like I could! I gave him his Clouded Leopard Ttouches down his neck, up his shoulder, and down his back and croup on both sides then Shannon started tacking him up. Bobby was a little antsy this morning when Shannon tightened his girth and when she brought him to the mounting block, but he stopped moving long enough for me to get on. Then we went into the ring and Bobby started acting like a little angel, at least he looked like a little angel compared to his usual behavior. I didn’t have much trouble at all with Bobby today. I did use my thighs a lot to keep him straight but I did not have to use them all the time. I even got two circles out of Bobby that actually looked like circles! On contact, off contact, it really did not matter, when Bobby started twisting himself up into a pretzel he let me correct him, straightened out, and kept pretty straight until the next turn. When I extended his walk there were a few times when I did not have to repeat my leg aids every step. At last, real progress that has extended to three weeks in a row with definite improvement each week! And all this new cooperation comes from those light Ttouch circles I do for just a minute or so before he is tacked up. Talk about an enormous return for a tiny bit of effort!
Winter is returning next week. Maybe I’ll get to trot Bobby.
Have a great ride!