Frisky Business

I haven’t been feeling well recently.  Nothing in particular is wrong, but I am finding when I get home from work, I am exhausted and severely lack motivation.  In fact, Tuesday night, I was asleep by 8:45 and did not wake up until my regular time for work the next day.  Didn’t even seem to notice as Lee made the bed around me.

Perhaps it is the fact that we are just now getting winter type weather.  Or perhaps 2 jobs, a young horse, a household to keep clean and fed, and my first issue of The Pulse with me as editor is catching up with me.

Either way, I am ashamed to admit that up until last night, I had not visited Bentley since our quiet ride on Saturday.  Again, he came in with a wet neck and face and turned to mush as I scratched his face and ears.  It is very nice that I can play with his ears with my hands and brush, but he still complains when anything else goes there (IE me trying to fit a fly mask to him did not go over well).  As soon as the bridle came out, so did spunky horse, bopping around in the cross ties and prancing around like a goofball.  Even found a way to sneak in a small playful nip to my thigh!

We worked in the lower arena as that was all that was free.  He was very energetic and I could barely keep up to his walk… however if I jogged, I know he would have started too!  Once I was satisfied that he was calm enough to mount without disaster, we started our warm up.

Here I go off on a tangent.  I once asked Lee once what I would be if I were an animal, and he said Kangaroo because I walk so fast, and dig in so eagerly, it looks like I am bouncing away.  Well Bentley does the same thing, digs in enthusiastically, bobbing his head happily like a “Kangaroo” guess we are a perfect match!

Moving up to the trot, I could tell he wanted to blow off some steam, mostly because we were no longer at the nice hunter style trot he has been giving me recently, but flying around the ring like he was at the track.  He kept pushing me to canter which isn’t like him at all.  Most of the times we work him free or on the lunge, its impossible to get him to canter.  My general training theory is that if he wants to do it, I will let him do it and make him do it until he doesn’t want to do it anymore, then push him on a little longer.  Consequences for trying to make the decisions. 

So with ears forward and an incredibly smooth and natural transition, I let him canter, expecting him to tire after a few laps of the ring, do some nice circles, and get some valuable canter training done.  Well that would have been nice, but this horse just wont get tired!  We lapped the ring about 40-50 times (about 12 minutes of working canter) and he still wasn’t asking me to slow down.  Looks like my consequence plan backfired.  Boy did he ever have a lot of steam to blow off!

The good part to it however, was the whole time was a beautiful canter and it really gave me time to focus on me as well.  The lower ring is bigger, so we didn’t have barrel racing tight corners to deal with, and he was staying balanced without much support from me.  Gradually I backed pressure off his head and let him just do his thing with just a few reminders not to get that head down to bucking form. I know I have a habit of holding his head back and I don’t want to desensitize him, so really it was good for me!  I was able to work on half halts before the corners and he seemed to respond.  Another fun thing was after a while, I realized he wasn’t going to tire any time soon, so we changed direction across the diagonal.  We didn’t have a flying lead change, and the shape of our line was not so pretty, but somewhere between a standard lead change and flying, we got the job done.  It ended up being a kind of hop, turn, twist, hop.  Either way, for our first try, I am pretty happy that he was able to figure out the balance and that we didn’t lose our steering because of the comfort of the rail.

Even after he appeared to tire a bit (stumbled) and I brought him back down to catch a breath, he snapped back to the high energy level almost immediately.  Again, trotting he kept pushing me to canter, but instead I worked on walk/trot transitions whenever I felt him pushing me.  Since he was responding well to that, we ended it on that good note.

We will see what tonight brings, he may need some more play rides to kick the spring fever.

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