Friday 25 March 2011

Tipping along nicely

I'm hoping i don't jinx myself now, but things have been tipping along nicely for Kika and myself since I last updated. Had a spin on sunday and got a small bit of lovely quiet, calm canter out of her - on both reins! Including a circle on each rein which had been the root of our problems and had lead to rearing at the start of the year.
Such an improvement! Yay!!!
I didn't post about it on sunday as i knew i'd be poppin up for another spin on tuesday so figured I'd wait and see if it was a fluke or if we really were improving (I say "we" as i need possibly more work than the mare! *blush*)
Monday is usually one of our three lungeing days, but the small girth needed for the pessoa was broken and the friend lending me the use of hre lungeing equipment didn't have a spare in her tack locker, so K got a nice quiet spin in the walker for a little over an hour then i let her lose in the smallest arena for a chance to kick her heels up and/or roll if she wanted to. I don't know what she actually got up to in there as I was being nosy and watching 2 friends ride other people's horses. I think she amused herself adequately as she came out in fine spirits like she'd been playing chase with herself in there, ;-) , and she was sandy so she'd had her roll and then enjoyed a nice bit of grooming / scratching when she got out.

Tacked up on tuesday and found myself alone in "our" arena, I call it ours as it's the first one I rode Kika in upon her arrival in Lux and to date (knock on wood) she behaves best in there. Plus it's a little "out of the way" i guess for most people, few ever seem to use it really - so i like it! :D
I didn't even think to be worried that she hadn't done much the day before, in fact that thought has only just occurred to me as I write about our week to date!
Up I hopped and warmed her up with more walking than i usually do, coaxing her into an outline at walk as i know it is easier to sustain at trot. She kept nice and calm which i was happy about, because she can sometimes get oddly fizzy when walking and starts to look for ways to amuse herself - namely shying and acting the hound. But I feel I managed to keep her suitably distracted with rein changes and rein spongeing at walk (therefore outline) that she was concentrating on me and not looking for ways to have fun on her own!
We then went up a gear to trot and worked on doing the same things on both reins, as I was told a while ago that I can be prone to doing more work on one rein than the other. So armed this knowledge everything I did on one rein ended up being mirrored and done on the other rein after a few minutes, so circles, serpentines and figures of eight were all done multiple times. I found that this kept the pair of us concentrated and out of mischief. I have also started asking her to bend correctly again, as my confidence trickles back i am re-working in the things we were working on in lessons way back in November! Thanks to the lungeing work i feel a measurable difference in her now that her back is stronger and better able to support me and what we are trying to do.
Happy with how she was behaving i decided to be brave once more and chance some more canter work. She was an absolute star, struck off in a lovely calm canter which i was fully in control of - she used to be prone to building up speed after the first few strides but she is now much more maleable and i felt better able to regulate our tempo. She used to also get a bit hett up after canter and trot quite bouncy after ready to go again on the next corner, but tuesday she settled right back into trot with no fuss on her good rein. When we changed reins and did the same on her "bad" rein she was just as calm in striking off, including requiring two attempts to get the correct lead - I think i accidently cantered half a circle in counter canter, silly beast refused to change... but she came back after it and although a little excitable calmly struck off on the correct lead and worked away with minimal fuss. I can still feel a difference in the good and bad side in that she gets herself more wound up on the bad side, but I am not complaining at all and i understand that as we continue to work to develop her back she will become calmer on her "bad" side as it becomes less strenuous for her to work in canter on that rein. Careful not to overdo it, we returned to trot and cooled down followed by some walking and a chance for her to stretch out.
Although her shoes are very worn at this stage and walking on tarmac is like ice-skating for her I thought I'd chance my arm and ride her down to the barn (around a corner). She was so good, she shortened right up and took tiny little baby steps to go down an ickle-little slope that she tends to slide a bit on when being led. This little slope is right beside the 'main' arena where two horses were working and which we haven't been in in 2 months (I've mostly been working in the smaller quieter ones), I figured while things were going well we'd pop in there to walk around a little bit without pressure just to re-acquaint ourselves with it - as that's the arena the lessons take place in (which i hope to return to soon-ish). We just walked around continuing the cooling down process as she had sweated up a fair amount (not lathered or anything!) between the bit more work we did and the fact this week has been positively lovely (21C yesterday - yum!)
I can't say she was spooky as such, but she wasn't as relaxed as she is in "our" arena and kind of buggy-eyed in places, but didn't kick up a fuss or threaten any bold/bad behaviour - so although tentative I now know I'd feel better about returning to work there in the not to distant future (maybe even this weekend if it is quiet-ish)
So to say I was a happy camper on tuesday evening would be an understatement!

Wednesday she got an Aoife-free day as I had agreed to go to the cinema with a friend, one of the girls at the barn helped me out by putting her in the walker for me just to let her stretch her legs.
Thursday became our lungeing day last night, as the weather was so fab i was hoping to lunge her in the big outdoor - but i was not the only person to want to work outside, the place was mobbed for the outdoor haha. So to keep her head from exploding i decided to go for "our" empty arena up the back. I can't remember if I mentioned that the friend who is helping me/coaching me with the pessoa training and in fact lending me the gear suggested we tighten it up last week (after three weeks work in the 'looser' state). So last wedensday she did that and lunged K in it for me (Paddy's week is busy for an ex-pat!), Kika got another session on friday with me and then as the girth was broken she wasn't lunged again till last night. She was grand in walk and trot, she then enjoyed kicking her heels up a bit in canter but settled and worked well after a few turns.
Weather isn't supposed to be as nice after today, so I may keep with my training thwarting theme this week and see if i can get down to the forrest for a bit of a spin this evening. Only problem with that plan is that to get to the forrest there is a stretch of tarmac-ed road to negociate which will be like an ice rink for Kika. Might just lead her to the forrest entrance and hop up then and lead her back up. Or rather than setting such a precedent for us, i might just wait till she get's re-shod on tuesday and go for my forrest hack during the longer evenings next week!
The up-side to losing an hour's sleep on sunday = longer evenings! ;-)

We are gearing up for summer outside. She is in her lightest rug (Rambo Stable Sheet) now for the next week to 2 weeks then she'll be rug free and ready to go out day and night from May till October! I'm really happy that she will get to live out for a few months and hopefully she'll behave in the field and get on with whoever she gets turned out with. I feel bad that she hasn't made any friends since moving to Lux, but what can I say - she is a territorial so and so when it comes to her box, so she makes no friends that way and no one has been turned out since october - so she hasn't had a chacne to make any buddies!
I'm more than a little wary of her being turned out on that first day, i have such a fear of her going through wire as she get's herself all excited and has an unhealthy disrespect for electric tape at the best of times - pretty darn worried about her going out after so long indoors. I will have to have a chat with the YO (yard owners) about this and see what they suggest and if they know who she may be going out with yet. Going to ask if she can have a minimum of two field buddies so that if one is taken away to be ridden that she isn't left to her own devices alone in the field as she has proven to be Houdini under those circumstances in the past!

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