Bentley has now been at his new home for a full month.
I am happy to say, he is back to being the funny and playful 4 year old that he is. On Friday, when we went to the barn, he had dry sweat marks all over him. We learned quickly that this was nothing to be alarmed of, because he has made friends with the Thoroughbreds and spent the day chasing and playing with them. How cute! It had been a few months at GEC where he wasn’t interested in playing anymore, so I was pleased to see his energy and spirit had returned and that he’s also getting exercise despite being inside at night (even when I can’t always be there!) We were a bit worried as his hind looked a little sucked in, but it got better after a few minutes of us being there (perhaps because he had just gotten a fresh drink) He still has a bit to go at rebuilding the muscles in his bum, but its starting to look much better. In fact, one person who saw us ride asked if his other half was quarter-horse because of the big bum. Thais a good thing!
Our ride was pretty good, he was behaving very well for the first 40 minutes of our ride. Trotting and cantering nicely. He still wont pick up the right lead canter from the trot, but here is the funny thing… he seems to have figured out the lead change thing anyway. Within 2-3 strides of picking up the incorrect lead, if I ask to switch leads, he does it! Even if we are on the straight sides (no circles necessary!) He also is happy to give me lead changes both ways and we spent some time doing canter figure 8s… perfectly! Barb even commented on how beautiful and balanced he looked when changing. So that wonderful, but still leaves me with the mystery of why he wont pick up that right lead from the trot. If he is balanced enough to do regular changes, why can’t we do simple changes? Odd, and I can’t wait for Margie to be better so we can hopefully get some answers.
After some more trotting and walking exercises (after canter, we have to spend a lot of time settling down because he just loves to canter so much! I only let him do it again when we have that perfect trot down) we tried cantering again. However, this is about the time he started to get naughty. I must have tricked him because this time we worked on circles, not 8s, and particularly while on the left lead, instead of completing the circle, he would bulge out along the 3rd quarter and decide to go the opposite direction (as if we were to do a sloppy 8 again) Perhaps he was saying “Hey mum, look how good my lead changes are and how good I am at right lead canter now!” but of course, I was not happy with him making the decisions as to where we would go. As I alluded to, he didnt seem to have this problem when we were already on the right lead. So we worked hard and eventually I fixed our direction problems by making my circles less deep and really using my rein aids more (as I have a tendency to drop contact… and Mr. Flexible has more freedom to follow his own will) so it was very clear to him we were going to circle, not 8. Again, our earlier exercise may have confused the expectations. I must be more clear in my communication.
He ended up working a little harder than expected as a result of this, so he was very sweaty. This was ok, because it meant we had to stick around longer and helped Barb do the night feed. It just flew by with Lee, Barb, Chelsea (who also rode with us) and I working at it. Barb was very grateful and I just love spending time with her. Shes so much fun! Again we covered Bentley in blankets but Barb put a shammy on his ears, he was very interested in everything and flapped his ears around, making the shammy dance in the most hilarious ways possible. We were all clutching our guts and holding back tears of laughter. Its hard to describe the movement of the towel, but paired with the sweet innocent face was one of the funniest things he has ever done. We may do this after ever ride now!