Wow, somehow time got away from me here, I had a bunch of things to add to the blog and haven’t really gotten around to it. I spent a lot of time with Klondike over the weekend, so I did manage to update there. But I also took Stephen in gymnastic lesson #2.
I even have video, though that will have to wait till this evening or tomorrow when I can get it onto youtube. But I insist on describing the lesson anyway, because it was fun, and because Stephen makes me smile. Sunday’s gymnastic was a one stride, to a bounce, to a one stride, along the long side of the ring rather than in the center. It was designed to be easily jumped in both directions. Additionally there were two jumps on the other side of the ring, set on the diagonal, that could be jumped as a two stride (or three) bending line.
We started off pretty well, but with no skinny involved this time, the “funnel” effect was a little lost, and Stephen kept calling me out. He likes to drift right with his hind end a little bit- if I got sucked in at all or lost straight at all, I would also lose steering over the first jump and stephen would just sort of magically teleport himself to the right side of the following jump. He found this markedly easier if I got ahead of the motion on the approach, which is one of my worse habits.
So the lesson quickly became, for me, about sitting up. Not just “not jumping ahead” but actually sitting with my butt in the saddle on the way to the line with my shoulders above my hips. This is unnatural for me, though it’s something I really needed to work on (my horse calls me out on that ALL the time, too, heh). Stephen is not bothered by jumps, or a dirty stopper or runner outer, he just decided he needed to teach me a little bit about riding right. As long as I did it right, he would too.
Changing directions on the gymnastic, I noticed that even when I did ride right, and keep him as straight as possible, there was still a noticeable rightward drift as we went through the line. To the left, he would do this but only if I flubbed- knowing he’d be turning left after the jumps seemed to counteract it a little bit. So I’m thinking that when he is ridden this week, the big thing will be to work him to the right and get that right side strengthened up more, as it does seem to be a weakness thing.
After we worked through it a little bit, we added the bending line to the program, which was Stephen’s first time cantering into a line (or cantering a single jump, for that matter). He’s pretty easy, but he almost listens a little too much, and I can be prone to second-guessing the rhythm a little bit approaching a jump. So the first time in, he added (no real problem with that, it’s better than a launcher) when we didn’t really need to, which made getting out of the bending line a little hairy (but he went!). This horse is so funny- he’s willing to call me out, but at the same time will TOTALLY save my butt when I make an error. I’m thinking he won’t keep saving my butt if I repeat the error more than twice, but he’s really a saint. It’s super fun to have a horse so fresh from the racing world that can teach as much as the most experienced schoolie. 🙂
We switched directions to try the whole thing from the right lead, but at that point Stephen seemed really tired, I couldn’t even get him to pick up the right lead without some rather serious shenanigans on my part. We got through the gymnastic, but at the bending line had some trouble (the steering, going that way, wasn’t working out- he landed on the left lead, but makeing the left handed curve was just hard and I missed it completely). So we came around and did it in the good direction to end on a good note.
I promise, video tomorrow!
In other news… Prospect Park, aka Parker, is starting his journey on the course to “real” horse-dom 🙂 He got spiffed up a bit over the weekend, got the official CANTER horse bib clip, and his mane worked on. He’ll be getting shoes today and hopefully we will get him under saddle by the weekend to see how he goes. All I can so far is that he looks to be a spectacular hunter-y mover. He has a huge shoulder and a big, reaching stride. He also appears to understand hind end engagement already, I have several photos from him being chased around the ring a little the other day, showing how much he lowers his hind end and reaches with his hind legs. So he’s really promising.
But like all the CANTER horses, things often start out looking sort of … unassuming.
I will have some of his other pics up tomorrow as well 🙂 (as for this photo- it’s sort of amazing how a bad angle can make an adorable horse look like… that.)