Note: As one might suspect, I am short on sleep these days. So if at any point in this post I begin spewing gibberish—well—you saw it coming. 😉
Inasmuch as conditioning goes this week, we fell short of our goal. Aside from our wet 4.5 mile ride on Monday (which I already blogged about) I have only ridden one other time and that was today. I had to work at SStables in the morning, so didn’t have a lot of time to spare. Joe was kind enough to voluntarily pitch in and help me so I would have time for a brief ride before I was needed at home. I was aiming for a 40 minute workout in the arena, but only managed 31 (let’s just say it was due to girl problems and leave it at that). Tonight we are supposed to be getting “a lot” of snow (no one can seem to agree on the exact accumulation) and although I do hope I can ride tomorrow it obviously won’t be at any significant speed or distance.
I don’t usually enjoy riding in the arena, but for some reason, I actually found myself getting into it today. The fact that Justice actually has some dressage training helps put my mind at ease. It has been probably 13 years or so since I’ve had any lessons, and so I often steer clear of flatwork and ring riding due to an innate fear that I’m going to “ruin” my horse. But the one thing I am good at is reading up on things, and researching what I’m supposed to be doing, and since J already has a good foundation in this case I am a wee bit bolder. That’s not to say I wouldn’t benefit from the help of a good instructor, but at the moment lessons are a luxury I can’t afford.
My main objective for the day was to get Justice on the bit. While on the trails, I have been riding Justice in a Pelham, but today I had him in the dressage bridle with a French link loose ring snaffle. (I want him to be able to perform in a variety of bits – just in case we actually do participate in an actual dressage show someday.) It didn’t take me long to realize that he was apt to pull in this bit, so it was a challenge to get him to stop leaning on me. I also discovered that all I had to do was look where I was going, and we magically veered in that direction. That being said, I found I have a tendency to get ahead of myself and look TOO far ahead which naturally led to us taking some unplanned “shortcuts”.
With lots of half halts and outside rein/inside leg, Justice did bring his head down, although I didn’t really feel as if he was actually “on” the bit as he still felt hollow throughout the back and dragging behind. But that will come in time, right?
Toward the end of our ride I asked for a canter, which resulted in his running through the trot into the canter (and let me tell you that horse can trot FAST!) I repeated my request several times with the same result, but the last time was a little better than the rest and I redirected him in a 20 meter (ish) circle in an attempt to slow him, and force him to work on his balance. He did well in that he put his head down and seemed more round than he had at the trot, but he leaned hard to the inside (so much so that I actually feared he would slip and fall on his side), so I asked him to come back down to a trot.
In the last 5 minutes of our ride, I asked him to move off my leg (success!) and in a last ditch effort to get him to truly collect (versus just tucking his nose), I sat deep in the saddle and THOUGHT really hard about what I wanted him to do. I don’t know how to explain it, but suddenly he stepped up behind and for a few fleeting moments he was doing EXACTLY what I wanted! I asked him to halt, and he did so squarely, and I jumped off and praised him profusely.