Another wonderful week, in that I got to ride 3 times. If my energy keeps up I could get to like this!
Although the heat has started to moderate down here in NC, it is still incredibly muggy. I am grateful that those horrible flies I call buzz-bombers (you know, the ones over 1" long) have yet to appear in great numbers.
Mia surprised me Friday. The jumps in the arena were being re-arranged, with various parts of jumps temporarily being stored just outside the fence. Every other time there had been any change in the ring Mia would be somewhat nervous, and any new thing just outside the fence merited a shy. It would take weeks to get her used to the new arrangements. But on Friday she walked into the ring, looked around, and calmly accepted the whole new arrangement. When I rode her at the fence there were only a few little shies, and she promptly obeyed my leg aid to get back to the rail. By the third time around she was ignoring all the new piles of fences outside the ring. Maybe, just maybe, Mia is finally deciding to trust me.
Due to the heat and mugginess I mainly worked on the three speeds of the walk. Mia was always happy to have her rest periods, but moved willingly forward whenever asked. Walking can be a wonderful gait to increase a horse's fitness without jarring its legs. When a horse gets to a certain speed of a walk, and this speed varies between horses, it becomes easier for the horse to trot. A good extended walk will use more energy than a trot at the same speed. As the horse's walking speed increases the horse starts using its back, abdominal, shoulder, haunch and leg muscles much more. I have to build up the time I spend at the extended walk gradually, just like I would have to increase time spent galloping gradually, building up the same set of muscles. But Mia is not quite ready for a full extended walk, so all I ask for right now is a little extension. After a few weeks of this slow build up she will be fitter, and more able to give me what I want.
Cider also gave me a good ride at a walk, and for once did not try to break into a trot at all. The good parts of the ride keep on getting longer and longer. Cider willingly gave me contact with the Nurtural, something she had been hesitant about before, reaching forward with her nose. Maybe my hands are improving with the slightly cooler weather. I was able to turn her mostly just using my leg aids, with at most little gentle suggestions from the rein. I even managed to walk her past Shannon with no veering, keeping her between light aids, with impulse. This mare just gets better every time I ride her. She is even halting better, I can now count to three before she starts fidgeting, and I can get her to stand for around 10 seconds without her getting upset with me. This is another thing that I am working on gradually as this mare is so fiery and impatient.
I am hoping in two to three weeks to start Cider on the three speeds of the walk. This is a whole new language to Cider, all she had learned before was go fast, go as fast as you can. Every time I have ridden her in the past two years (off and on, mostly off), I have worked at stabilizing her at a medium walk, keeping the same speed both on and off contact. Cider is becoming so much more cooperative with me, such a change from the mad trotting machine that I started with. In a few weeks it also will be cool enough for me to use a bit again, which she prefers, and her hoof should be grown out enough so I can get some of her ya-yas out trotting. And after she "gets" the three speeds of the walk I can start with the three speeds of the trot.
Slow steady progress. All those hours in the ring are finally paying off.
Have a wonderful ride.