The buzz-bomber flies are out. Thank goodness for fly spray. Out at Shannon’s I saw two horses out in the pasture doing two-barrel kicks just to shake these nasty flies off their backs.
It is hard to believe it is August down here, usually in August we get our biggest heat, this year it has been rather pleasant in the mornings with nice cool breezes. This week I did not melt in the saddle!
Bobby looked just as pissed off as usual when Shannon caught him and tied him up. I got some good scratches in before Shannon did the fly spray which seemed to please him. He was not quite as good as usual when she tightened his girth, she had to grab at the reins a few times. When I mounted I picked up an “oh its you again” from Bobby so I was not expecting much from him.
But Bobby was reasonably cooperative from the very start. We got our loose rein walk in with minimal corrections, and when I asked Bobby to stand he planted his feet and just looked around. He did grind the Pee Wee bit between his molars a few times just after we halted, then he stopped messing with his bit and stood in perfect peace. I asked for him to walk again, at first he did not want to move, then he moved out and whenever I asked him to pick up contact there were no problems, in the beginning he even went a few steps straight, both on and off contact. I got Shannon to tighten the bit straps a hole to see if he would stop grinding the bit between his molars and he seemed to prefer that. Apart from one buzz-bomber trying to land on his mane I had no big problems the first ten minutes of our ride.
And, as usual, after the first ten minutes the problems started, but today I had to use a LOT less seat, leg and hand to straighten him out when he started to pretzel. I used this opportunity to work on keeping my seat bones even, my upper body straight and erect, and I started practicing a new (for me) use of my outside leg to straighten him out. I was using my outside thigh as usual, a light slightly forward pressing in as my seat bone rose on that side, alternating with me pressing down on my outside stirrup as my seat bone went down (instead of pressing inward with my lower leg.) The main difference in the action of the lower leg is that when I pressed down on the stirrup my calf muscle hardened so the pressure from my lower leg was a few inches further up than usual. Bobby responded at lot better to this method, instead of having to use my outside leg, thigh alternating with heel, EVERY stride I only had to use my new method a few strides until he straightened out, then I would get a few straighter steps without any more work on my part. I had to use my outside spur only two or three times when he tried to rub my leg against the fence. I felt like my outside leg was acting to block his sideways movement much more effectively than when I used my alternating thigh/heel method.
Then two of the kids who hang around at Shannon’s came into the ring along with the puppy. Bobby started telling me he deserved to be in the center of the ring with everyone else. When I was trying to go straight down the center of the ring that I had to use my legs every stride, one step he tried to go to the left, the next stride he tried to go to the right. Even then I was able to get some straightish strides in before I had to turn at the fence. Bobby even stopped arguing with me every time I asked him to turn! As we wandered around the ring I got two nice turns on the hindquarters (one in each direction) without any discussions. As my riding time was coming to an end Bobby started wanting to go into Shannon (mommy, it is time to stop!) but he did not argue too much when I asked him to walk past her. Today, for once, I did not HAVE to stop early, Bobby regularly gave me several instances of good work that qualified for stopping on a good note, I could pick and choose! Maybe that little talk I gave him two weeks ago made an impression. When I asked Shannon what she thought about my ride she said that Bobby was fighting me a lot less, and he was not fighting me constantly. Compared with two weeks ago I consider today’s ride a great improvement myself.
I switched Mia back to the regular Mullen mouth snaffle and all the problems I had with contact simply disappeared. I could not trot her since she was still sore from the farrier’s hoof trimming so I am not sure that my contact at the trot will be as good as at the walk, but Mia was quite happy with my hands on Friday. No head slinging, no gnashing of the teeth, no pointed looks back at me, Mia seems to prefer having a simple, non-moving mouthpiece in her mouth. I had the ring all to myself, no rocketing ponies, no horses squeezing between me and a jump, I could do exactly what I wanted and that is such a luxury! School is starting, the mornings are a little cooler, and Mia and I enjoyed our peace and quiet. Luckily I had put enough fly spray on her so that the buzz-bombers did not try to attack her. A nice peaceable ride, Mia was happy, I was happy, altogether a wonderful day!
Have a great ride!