Saturday, February 7, 2009

Testing the Waters

Well we trailered Louie over to C&D again today to ride. It was worming day for the horses, so they got the nasty "apple flavored" Eqimax, which I think smells more like baby poop (yeah, the horses don't like it much either, but it's good stuff). I'm not sure if there are recommendations on when to worm vs. work a horse, but I figured it was at least a good half hour before any work would be taking place, and we took our time once we got there too, just in case. So after getting that wonderful palate cleanser, it was time to head over to ride. This time, when I loaded Louie up at the barn he just walked right into the tralier without assistance! Wow! I was super impressed! Yay!!! Once we were at the barn, we did our usual pre-ride routine plus a few tail stretches. I lunged him a few minutes to warm up and get the ants out of his pants- he was doing quite a bit of head tossing and goofing off on the lunge line so I started using my whip against my leg (didn't have a lunge whip with me so I improvised). We worked on this lesson about a month ago, but apparently Louie thought he'd test me to see if I'd still get mad about his games. Well the whip seemed to do the trick and Louie got the message- but unfortunately so did my leg. ouch!

We got on and did a long, slow warm up with lots of leg yielding and backing and he did just great. A little heavy in the bridle on these yet, but we need more regular work. There was one other horse in the ring with us, and Louie did just awesome with the other horse there- hardly paid any attention to him. Of course the little bit of light that was creeping in under the arena door at the far end was rather scary- we spent a lot of time walking by it and looking at it, and even by the end of the ride he was still scooting past that spot. We then worked on some walk-trot-walk transitions since Louie tends to be a little on the lazy side with these and would rather just meander around the arena, not expecting any cue to go faster (okay- yes this is a WONDERFUL thing, I'm just not used to it). This all went great.

A few more leg yields, then it was time to attempt that canter again. He did it beautifully on the second try- and went around about a lap and a half on the left lead. Then after a little rest I asked him for it again and he was not real happy about that. He let out a good buck/kick (like in his video), so I pushed him forward and try again, another kick, so I got up some real good speed, held his head up and tried once more and he finally cantered without issue. Yay- good boy! I was suprised that he protested that much, but he didn't do it until I put both legs on him to try to encourage him into the canter- I guess one leg is all he likes, lol. But he did it willingly after all that trying, so we walked a while and finished up with one last canter to the right (well he counter-cantered, but it is better than bucking!) which went without issue- of course it took a couple of tries, but no bucks at least.

Cantering seems to be really a lot of work for Louie at this stage (and yes, I'm sure it is since I am asking a lot of him for only cantering/riding once a week right now!). He seemed pretty tired (but of course after you do one lap at the trot he acts rather lazy, so it's tough to differentiate), until another boarder came in with a young horse that flipped out when coming through the gate- Louie perked right up and fed off of that nervous energy just a bit, but he kept his composure and his brain, so I was impressed with how he handled this test. We did one long and low trot, then some more walking to cool out, and called it a day.

Back to the crossties to untack and do some grooming- Louie is just like Social and LOVES having his face rubbed with a towel after he works. He had a lot of itchy spots on his neck too where he got sweaty, and he just loves a good rub-down. I dressed him in a cooler and headed back out to the trailer to go home. This time he went in by himself again, but not without a little bit of attitude- aka pawing. He is getting the lifting his own leg concept, but this time he got in with the front feet, then pawed, then backed out. Hubby opened the manger door since it was closed, and I think it usually helps for a horse to have a window by his face to walk into rather than just an enclosed space (not very inviting). So once that was opened, Louie got right in. He is getting a LOT better with the trailering- today was really hopeful that I will be able to trailer him myself pretty soon! Yay!

Once back at the barn, and cooled out, I put Louie in his stall to eat a little snack before going back outside. A good friend of mine just had to give her horse away, so she gave me a bunch of left over hay and grain that she didn't need- I shouldn't have any problem using it up! Thanks Sarah! Louie appreciates the extra yummy snacks! :)

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