I am thoroughly enjoying having an indoor to ride in. Get home from work in the dark, out to the barn and turn on the lights! It rained today? No problem!
My first two rides with Mikey were generic ones where I just wanted him
forward and relaxed. I asked for shoulder-in and half pass, just something easy
to keep his mind occupied.
He's not so sure about the mirror wall (the entire short side -around 23m-
of the back end of the indoor has lovely mirrors)- when I have him alone in
there he tends to stare at it. That's ok though, he's letting me take his
nerves and send them in a productive direction. Can I just say how incredible
his canter work has been? Super through, super connected, and when I ride the
short wall I like to watch the muscles on his topline crunch. Plus when he's
that connected he loses that awful thoroughbred neck and I can see the proper
muscles really working. As someone who has had limited mirrors in the past, no
mirrors for over 2 years, an entire wall of pristine mirrors that are tilted
slightly down to better show the rider the horse is incredible and will be
stared at. So maybe we're both just staring at the mirror wall together.
Back on point, his work has been active, sharp, and attentive. And through.
Very through. He's rather impressed by the indoor, and then the construction
that is still happening at the barn (building 6 more stalls, an official tack
room, and a bathroom). He's made a giant step in maturity- instead of being
spooky, I can tell he's looking to me for direction and praise. The old Mikey
would have been spooky and ignored me, but the old me would have enabled him.
So maybe I'm giving him a super confident ride and praising often. I've been
practicing engaging my seat more in the canter to try to get medium canter to
collected canter, just from the seat. I've taken that down to the walk and trot
too. Maybe he needs that strong ride when he's nervous.
Monday I had planned on keeping things quiet again because he was still
nervous, but I put him together and ended up doing a couple flying changes. I
made sure to start with an extended canter down the wall, taper it off to a
strong working canter, come across the diagonal and then ask. He gave a late
change behind on the first right to left, and then a super clean left to right,
and then another clean right to left. I quit at that point. He'd been spectacular,
attentive, through, and did what I asked. And he did them without a pole for
guidance. Time to be done for the night! It was neat watching the changes in
Mikey was off Tuesday because the indoor was having a good bit of sand
removed in the evening (the footing was deep in some places) and I ended up
having to work late anyway.
I rode again Wednesday, and right from his stall he was more relaxed. Not
sure if he's settling or if it's because construction has been halted for the
next week. He was better with his half passes in trot than on Monday, and he
gave me a clean left to right change the first time I asked for one, but then
things kind of fell apart. He was connected, and then became overly bent and I
had trouble getting him forward again. He was using my seat against me to half
pass into the changes and be crooked and drag me around a little. I spent some
time redoing the canter work and then decided on the next acceptable change I
would leave his canter work alone and move on to something else. He gave me a
rough clean change right to left eventually, so I decided to leave them alone
and went back to trot. What a trot! Powerful, easy to manipulate for half pass
or shoulder-in or extended trot. I got to watch a good extended trot from him
in the mirrors!
He was a sweaty mess when we were done and I still spent an hour brushing
him dry. I have to shave off a bit more hair on his hind legs- they were soppy
wet where the clip ended and the winter hair began.
I'll be going back out tonight, and I think I'll stick poles out the way
German Riding Master showed me for flying changes. Apparently Thursday night is
girls night at the barn. Everyone comes out and rides, then when everyone is
done they go to dinner at a local spot. I'm looking forward to it!