I know I am working backwards here, but this next post happened Saturday.
The owner at my weekend job is gone to Europe for a little while on business, which means my days have got significantly easier. Typically, if he is around, I must bring a lunch and stay at the barn during the day in case he decides to ride. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the kind of money that you don’t have to groom and tack up your own horse? Nah… I love all that part, never would be me, however I could go without mucking the stalls and sweeping aisles.
Anyway, since I don’t have to stick around, I will usually either go home and spend the day with Lee (or lunch and nap!) or if he is working, I will head over to GEC and play with Bentley. This Saturday was a Bentley day, and I had called on Heather S and Rurik to accompany us in the momentous occasion of riding outside for the first time!
I brought him in and ended up grooming him for over an hour. He wasn’t dirty at all, but the hair.. oh my the hair! Pulled enough fur out of him to build him a cat buddy. I was a little worried about him, he has developed a cough and was getting mucus on his nose every time (but didn’t have a runny nose). Although he maybe only coughed 10 times in the 3 hours, he hasn’t been sick or lame yet so of course it seems worse to me.
We started alone in the lower arena. He was acting particularly silly and energetic. My guess was partially because we were alone, and also because he had not been ridden since Tuesday. Lots of tight serpentines and circles to keep him focused. Once Rurik joined us a few minutes later, he was much better. Did some trotting and he was wonderful. Asked for canter and he was excited and really dug in and ran, after a while and lots of half halts, we got that nice canter I was looking for. I was able to sit back and relax in the saddle, which helped even more. Tried circling a bit, but we didn’t quite have the control I am working towards and there were jump standards, poles and filler everywhere which made it difficult to do a large circle. I seem to remember we had this problem with the arenas last year, that there was never an empty arena to do dressage in. Perhaps I will have to start moving these next weekend.
The lower arena door is right across from the entrance to the sand ring, so I dismounted, opened the door and remounted. Rurik walked out the door and we followed into the sand ring. Bentley was very good in the outdoor ring. He was curious about everything, ears and eyes going every direction. After a lap of the ring, I started doing some circles and halts with him and he was very good, settling into the exercises we usually do in the indoor arena. So good in fact, we decided we were going to try leaving the ring.
First we walked up and down the lane way where we park the trailers in the summer. Again, he was very curious. Maybe a bit nervous, but the ears stayed forward and he actually started pulling ahead of Rurik. I kept my reins pretty loose, and he would walk, halt and turn easily. We went almost all the way to 17th side road which was busy with traffic. He should be used to seeing cars as his paddock is next to the road, but its very different for him with a rider on top and in a new location (even if it is just 100m from the paddock ha ha)
We then chose to go out in the back, around the corn fields and the plateau. Again, he chose to lead Rurik which was very surprising to both Heather and I. He did keep an eye fixed behind him to make sure Rurik was still following, very cute! Again, he was looking all around, excited and ears forward. Wouldn’t stay straight at all, way too many things to see, but I was not going to correct him at this time. Confidence first, performance second. As long as we were generally going where I wanted to go I was happy. We went down to the plateau and at first he was a little concerned about descending the small wet hill, but with some gentle encouragement he trucked on. We did a full lap around the plateau, and as we neared the exit, he was asking me to go investigate something in the centre. So we pulled away from Rurik, did a circle in the centre of the plateau while he got another good look around, and went back to our buddies. I was shocked that he was so eager to explore! I love this! Only thing he did not like so much was getting close to the cross country jumps. I am not too concerned, this will come with time and right now they probably look like good hiding spots for hungry panthers and wolves. Oh and the loud whistling train went by on the other side of the valley/treeline and he was just fine! Something that previously made him bolt when I hand walked him 2.5 months ago.
It was such a great step for him. I cant wait for this coming weekend to do more in at least the outdoor ring. Maybe we will start trotting and complete my March goals early?