Monday, March 9, 2009

The Puddle Master!

The snow is mostly melted, it's 40 degrees out, and the ground has got a teeny tiny bit of give to it right at the surface- it's a great day for a ride. Finally, I've been waiting for months to have a teeny tiny bit of useable footing to work Louie on, and it finally appeared! Since the barn is on the way home from the hospital, it makes it even that much more convenient too! So, I fetched Louie from his paddock for a little ride. By the way, Louie has been coming to meet me at the gate so I don't have to walk out in the mud/ice to catch him- LOVE that! Unfortunately, some of the other horsemom's out at the barn have noticed that Louie gets extremely jealous when the other horses get to get out and work, and he tries his darndest to go and join them- he doesn't want to miss a thing!

So I tacked him up in his Old Mac's and standard english tack and headed out of the barn. I hopped on in the driveway again (this time without incident) and walked down to the pasture to begin our workout- yielding the forehand, yielding the haunches, bending and flexing to begin. He is remembering well and actually becoming more in-tune with my cues and more sensitive to them! On his right, where he tended to be a little more tough before, he is yielding beautifully! Then I asked him for something new- a sidepass. At first he moved his forehand, then I slid my foot back just a bit and he moved the haunches. Good boy. Repeat with the leg as close to the middle as I can and he did it- took a step with both front and back legs! Good boy! Repeat, walk, and try the other side. I think he is starting to grasp the concept, but once again is harder on his right side. I think with more work this one will come along well.

Then we went out to the "rail" and walked, practicing doing some serpentines and working on our steering in general. We also worked on more vertical flexion and self-carriage (aka- don't lean on the bridle) and that all went very well, though Louie continues to grind his teeth in this set up- not sure if it's the bit (different than the one I use for LL'ing) or the whole concept of riding. Anyhow, we'll worry about that later. As expected, the melting snow has left several minature lakes and streams throughout the pasture. I was quite interested to see what Louie would do, since most horses I've owned in the past will go FAR out of their way to avoid a puddle. So I aimed Louie straight for a big puddle and ta-da! He went right through it no questions asked! He didn't miss a beat! Woohoo! So I aimed him for a few more, and like an old pro, he walked through all kinds of puddles, one of them was even a couple inches deep! Yay! Good boy! After a while, puddles weren't quite so exciting, so we decided to do just a little bit of trotting work. Now the ground is still rather hard and uneven, so I wanted to take it pretty easy, so we went at a very slow trot, almost more of a jog. I couldn't quite tell because of the less than ideal footing, but he didn't look sore, so we continued on at a slow trot. After a little bit of a warm up, we worked on some leg yielding and bending at the trot- not as much of a response, but he got the idea and I think he enjoyed that challenge. So plodding right along, we took some puddles at the trot- splash splash right through them! 'Ata boy!

For a cool down, I walked him down the driveway towards the road (the barn is maybe 200 yards from the road- it's a long driveway). There were no cars in sight, so we headed out onto the road. We just walked about 1 minute total on the road before I decided not to push my luck with the possibility of a car speeding by and spooking him, so we turned around and headed back home. He was a perfect angel on the road, but he's not ready to handle cars passing him with a rider quite yet. All in all, it was a really fun day- splashing through puddles and going on a peaceful "mini trail ride" down the driveway- big accomplishments for an almost 3 year old!

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