I was able to get out and ride on Friday night and Lee came with me to watch/help. I was disappointed to find that my garmin had turned itself on in my purse and the battery was just about dead, but I wanted to ride outside anyway. The outdoor ring was pretty sloppy from all the rain we have had recently. Have I mentioned, Bentley hates walking through mud? So a couple of leg scrapes against the fence later, I was making him go through the slop.
Everything was going well until we tried to canter going clockwise. He doesn’t like to pick up his right lead in that ring for some reason. To make matters worse, as soon as I brought him back to trot to correct it, he formed an L shape to the outside from his shoulders and neck. Just refusing to be straight or bend in. Trying to correct it, we circled for what had to be 15 minutes. Did I say circled? I meant triangled. Just couldn’t get him bending in. Poor guy had to trot for so long in that slop, he was getting worn out. Of course, it was only a problem at the trot and walking work didn’t seem to help.
I tried asking the question in a different way – figure 8s. That seemed to help him out and after a few angular 8s, he figured it out. Perhaps because he was only getting praise on the one direction, he put the 2 and 2 together. By that point however, he had done more than enough work in the sloppy footing for the night.
We moved into the indoor where the footing was dry and the lighting was much better (it was dark for a while before, but we have an outdoor light… still isn’t great however) I took off his saddle and walked him around the arena bareback, giving him the option to pick where we walked. With this freedom, he invented a new game. Here is how you play.
- walk up to jump.
- Is the jump big enough to step over? If yes, do so.
- If no, act like you are going to step over it anyway so your rider giggles nervously. Knock the jump over, if possible, press down on the rail so that you can also knock over the standard too.
- Once jump has been demolished, walk over it. Turn around a few times and keep walking over it.
Start with the individual jumps, then go for the oxers once you are up to the challenge. Step between the 2 jumps of the oxers and stand there for a while before completing steps 3&4.
Boy did he ever like doing this.
Since we were still bareback and he was pretty cool, I decided to try a short trot. Something we have never done before because of his ouchy spine. We trotted along and at first he was very confused, but once I convinced him he didn’t need to go back to the walk to save me, he trotted along happily, perhaps more so than with the saddle on. I also discovered that if I sit back and relax, it wasn’t as sharp as before. Yay!
So we tried a little canter in his happy direction, he just loved it and so did I!
I had Lee take down the sheet of wood that we use to block the arena door and put it on the ground, so we could practice walking over “bridges”. He proved that this trick was far too easy, been there done that!
So the next step was to improve our accuracy, walk on, stop, square up, stand still and don’t leave the sheet. He was happy to just stand there.
So of course, I had to up it. I dropped the reins and laid forward and back on him. Still standing. Good boy! I swing my legs up behind me. Still standing. Good boy! I roll around a bit and do some weird sort of 360. Still standing. Good boy! I get up on my hands and knees on his back. Still standing. Good boy! Then, my riskiest move yet. On my 2 feet, no hands, standing on his back. Still standing. Good boy!
We called it quits there. Looks like we may have to take up vaulting!