Getting fit for summer

Each day this past week or so that I have been riding, Bentley has been VERY energetic. Not just playful hyper, but good positive energy. Good energy to work with.

Barb calls some of this energy his “Canter Pants” a phrase that I immediately adopted and have shared with many. This is the term used when Bentley wants to canter and canter and canter and canter. Something that Linda taught me early last summer, was if he is offering to use more energy and does it in a nice way (not bolting or bucking or being an idiot) then accept it and appreciate it. I guess I am lucky, most horses don’t want to move when given the opportunity, when being encouraged, or even being told to.

Since the barn has been quiet, I am usually riding alone and cantering for longer periods of time isn’t a problem. This is a nice break from only being able to test our canter for a lap due to arena congestion… canter still works… ok! Last night, I was impressed with his canter so much! First we trotted for 10 minutes straight, as per usual, but this time he wasnt giving me his dressage trot, he was giving me his trail trot. We just motored around the arena. I could tell he really wanted to canter, and since he was being good with speed, I gave him the go-ahead. 10 minutes and several flying lead changes later, we were still cantering around the arena! He was going so well, I was able to work at applying leg without it meaning canter, and getting him to move off it and make deeper corners. I also worked heavily on loosening my seat and relaxing into the saddle (something I really needed to do!). After that 10 minutes, we had worked it out and had a lovely canter, but he still wanted to keep going. At that point, I dropped the reins down to the buckle (for those who aren’t horsey, this means the reins were dangling down and I was basically riding without them) and in one hand. We cantered this way for another 5 minutes. I love to ride this way on the trail because its relaxing over long distances. I don’t ride this way all the time, but its nice to give an arm a break every so often. He was wonderful to ride on the buckle. First time we had ever done this at the canter. I found my seat was much better when I wasnt gripping the reins, constantly trying to half halt and correct him, just let him do his thing instead. I even did a few circles and a flying lead change down the diagonal. Wow! It really helped too for me to look where I am going. I always focus so much on looking at him, trying to make sure hes on the correct lead, bending nicely, coming into contact, and its a habit I must break! I am starting to get the feel for him performing and have started directing him with my eyes.

So after 15 minutes of cantering we brought it down to a trot. 5 minutes of that and I intended on walking to give him a break. Well just as I half halted to bring him down, he got his wind back and started up in the trail trot again! I stopped him by the mirror… not even pink in his nose, in fact, he wasnt breathing heavy at all. Both the nose and the belly confirmed this. We walked anyway (despite lots of offers from him to trot) and finished up with a 15 minute power trot then a coolout. Of course, after the trot, still no pink! Wow and yikes. I am going to have a lot to keep up with this summer!

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