Well it was a big day for Louie and me! We met Sandy at the barn, loaded up and trailered over to C&D Stables, a nearby stable with an indoor arena. It is only about 5-10 miles away and they let me use their indoor arena for a small fee. So, it's worthwhile for me as we have no footing at home, which limits us to walking only, and it's close enough to trailer over for an hour or so. Well we got there, unloaded, and tacked up and headed into the arena which they had dragged just for us! There were no boarders there- I was rather suprised to have the arena to ourselves on such a beautiful Sunday morning. Maybe everybody was at church. . . anyhow we walked around a bit to check out the arena since this was Louie's first time in this new place. After just a lap or 2 around being led, Louie seemed to be settling in just fine and ready to get the show on the road. So we lunged for a little bit as I thought it would be wise to burn off a little excess energy (remember no work last week because of the cold) with him being in a new place and all- no need for catastrophe. He moved really nicely and I was quite relieved to see him go on good footing that is even and not slippery. After he took the edge off, I hopped up and asked him to walk off, which all went just perfectly- we didn't forget our brains at home today. :) We walked around a few laps to stretch and warm up, then trotted lightly a few more. He was doing great and this was Sandy's first time really seeing him ridden beyond a walk (and she now wants to own one of his brothers or sisters ;) hehe). We all 3 decided we were ready to move along in our training, as we had the walk and trot down pretty well after 15-20 rides or so that we have behind us. So, we decided to progress to the next step and try the canter. Okay, first time, we're in a new place, but Louie is so mellow and easy going and wasn't reacting to the new arena, he seems to be feeling great- I'm great, you're great- we're all great, and we had good footing to work with for the first time since I've owned him- so let's go for it! So after a thorough warm up, double checking that we still remember how to stop, go, and turn, we started off trotting to the left (most horses good direction). We got around the far end of the arena, trotting at a pretty good pace by now, so I sat, kissed, and used my right leg against his side and voila! "Here he comes- the Kentucky Derby winner down the home stretch!" Yay! We cantered! Granted it was only a few strides and it was faster than a bat out of hell, but we did it! GOOD BOY!!! So, let's continue on at a walk for a while and digest what just happened, then try it again- second time- right on cue, and slower this time- he's onto it. Now Louie is feeling pretty good- trotting with a lot of gusto and excited about what he gets to do. So we walk and trot some more, change directions and try it tracking to the right (his bad side- well, not bad, just not as good as the left). He's got the hang of it. We trot, then coming out of the corner, I kiss and use my leg and off we go! Good horse! Okay, let's go get the video camera before we run out of steam! Below are a few clips of him walking, trotting, and even cantering! Note at the end a little oops- we were all getting tired, but it was the second time I had cued him without the right reaction, so he needed to do it- I used my whip, somebody wasn't very happy about that- so I got a little buck. Thank you very much for that! But at least he cantered.
Well that was about enough fun for one day, so we walked to cool out, as this was a big ride for Louie! A long time in the saddle, and he was exhausted. We led him back out to the crossties where he just about fell asleep. We chatted with the stable owners for a bit, then it was time to load up and head back home. I made one quick check to make sure we got everything while Sandy sat with Louie by the trailer where he slept. Okay, I returned, so let's get in the trailer and go home. Well, Louie didn't really want to get in this time. He had been a good boy all the other times about getting in the trailer, but his stubborn side was coming out and he would have none of this trailer business. We got out the whip, and that just made things worse- the situation escalated from calm disinterest to eyes wide open refusal. Not good. The barn owners came over to help out, and we tried to persuade him in with hay- for some reason he was far more interested in the hay that the barn owner brought over than what was in his manger . . . go figure. Well we sat there and tried to settle everybody's nerves (mine were a little wired at this point), then finally broke down and did what we've had to do in the past- pick up one of his feet and set it in the trailer. As soon as he had that one foot in the trailer, up he went, no big deal. . . All that fuss for nothing! Somebody needs to learn how to pick up his own foot and put it in the trailer- I guess I know what we'll be working on at home. . . When we got home, we took our time getting out of the trailer, then Louie and I stood at the enterance of the trailer, which had all been so stressful just a few minutes prior. He stood calmly, making no big deal of it, as I petted him and told him what a good boy he is and how much I love him. Then off to the pasture. So today was a big day full of new challenges and accomplishments. It also brought things that need work and improvement (ie trailering, bitting). All in all, it was quite a day, and I couldn't be more proud of my baby.