Yesterday was amazing. The weather, though not as warm as one would like, was pretty decent- sunny and pretty. Good thing, too, because a clinic at our barn had the indoor reserved for most of the day. So where to begin? Maybe here?
Actually, that would be jumping ahead a small bit (har har har!). Our main goal yesterday was to get out for a trail ride- Afton hadn’t been out there in a while so I thought it would be good for him, especially after all the ring work he’s been doing (not that he’s being worked that hard, but when he is ridden, it’s mostly to work on bending and flatwork skills).
The ride got delayed a little bit- some other folks wanted to come along, and I was ready long before anyone else was, so we did indeed work in the ring first. I’m trying to really concentrate on maintaining contact while riding, and keeping everything very consistent. We’re mostly working on big circles, I figure that bend + forward + consistent contact should eventually mean some stretching and giving, even if it takes forever to get there.
I’m still not getting much at the trot- I think it’s almost there at the canter, as long as I stay centered. However, there’s definitely a bit of a breakthrough at the walk. Working on big circles, with lots of leg, he’s starting to reach down and really stretch at the walk- not avoiding the bit bit taking the reins out of my hands a little and stretching down while maintaining a nice forward walk. At this point he’ll do it for maybe three-four strides of the circle, but it’s coming.
The bit of time off he got for the puffiness in his legs seems to have done some good, too. His canter feels much less hectic (not that it ever really was hectic, but it wasn’t perfectly balanced) and he feels much more like Steven now (at the canter, anyway).
Once Allie and Steven were ready, we headed out on a nice trail ride. It was walking only, and we mostly stuck to the fields. Afton was completely adorable and level headed the whole way. At one point, while walking on the buckle, he decided he had other interests, and instead of following the other horses, he just turned around and started walking back. I suppose we can say he’s not herdbound 🙂
Along the way Steven and Afton got a little dog training. Allie’s amazing dog likes to tag along on trail rides, but her little legs get tired after a while. So she’s learned to jump up on stumps and haybales, so that she can jump into Allie’s waiting arms and go for a ride. Figuring it was as good a time as any, little doggles got to go for a ride with Steven, who completely passed his “dog leaping into the saddle” test with an A+. I probably should mention that this was quite a test- she did not take a small hop like normal, but barreled into the saddle like a bullet. Guess her legs were really tired.
On the way back home, we decided to take the boys over some of the little logs that line our driveway (and the ditch, too). Afton did beautifully, even actually jumping the tiniest log at the foot of the driveway (usually he sort of steps over, because it’s tiny). He gave me a few flying leaps over the ditch, and then cantered out perfectly over the last log.
Of course, we didn’t break out the camera until after the first few very nice attempts, so all documentation shows my woefully bad eye for a distance. However I have to give myself some props- usually when I can’t see anything I opt for the flyer, yesterday I managed to mostly wait and got right to the base. Afton is pretty fantastic- even with things not ideal, he has a great head for jumping and figures it all out. Even when we get deep, he still jumps in great form. So… a couple of vids 🙂
(that last one shows the ditch- afton seems to get a little exuberant with the ditch! hee!)
Of course, Steven was in on the fun too. Here’s a couple of takes of him:
After all that, I did some more super fun stretchy work with Afton- he’s finally figured out the butt-poke one, and is starting to tilt his pelvis and raise his back when I do it. Such a good boy he’s turning out to be…