I really should be outside, getting a move on and getting some horses ridden, but Miss Thang made some major advances yesterday, so I’m going to sit here with some coffee and blog instead!
First of all, I’ve renamed her. Again. I know this confuses the heck out of people, but it takes me a while to come up with something that feels right and fits. Candace wasn’t doing it for me – it was better than Candy (or Candi) but I wasn’t quite feeling it, even though I used it for a while. Then I re-read an earlier entry and it sort of hit me – it’s not so different from “Candace” but I like it much better, as it’s a name, and it also describes her: Cadence. So there it is, that’s how I will be advertising her when that time comes, and I like it. I think it fits her face better, plus she has natural rhythm, so the meaning works too.
Anyhoo – yesterday we had a long and productive morning. I got out to the barn about twenty minutes before the start of the weekly “ground” poles class, a group lesson where our fantastic barn manager makes up courses of ground poles – often tricky and requiring good riding. Sometimes small jumps are involved, but they are always optional, and it’s more about riding straight and forward and planning your turns. I figured Miss Mareface was more than capable of ground pole class, as we’ve had her working over poles since her first ride. The big challenge wouldn’t be the poles, it would be sharing space with other horses, and learning about taking turns (standing and waiting, then trotting off and doing the work smartly, then standing and waiting again).
Of course she was brilliant! She’s retaining what she’s been learning over the last week, and is much more able to stretch down and out, and come round a little bit – she offered several times while I was just steering around the course (doing nothing other than keeping my leg on and contact consistent, yay!), and she proved to be one of the most level headed in the group.
As class went on and the course got more challenging, Michelle put up a little crossrail on the diaganol, only a few strides off the rail. It was optional, but on my way around the turn I asked if I should do it, and everyone pretty much told me I had to since she was being such a peach. It surprised her the first time, which wasn’t pretty, but we came around again and trotted it and she went right over. Again, not pretty, but she’s not sure how to handle her feet yet so I forgive her. We did it a few more times in each direction, and I made sure to ask her to canter away on the other side – even if she trotted it without jumping.
The third (I think?) time over we cantered away and continued cantering – instead of trotting the last ground pole we cantered it, and I know it may be a fluke, but I’ve never had an eye for distance and I found it perfectly easy to just sit there and let it happen, and she cantered it easily out of stride with no change in rhythm.
As the class wore down Michelle put a little crossrail in the center of the ring, so we could have a longer, straighter approach to it. I never realized how much a horse could wiggle in the last 12 feet before a jump, and it made me laugh at how hard it was to keep her straight, but she managed and we jumped it a few times, cantering away on both leads, before I called it quits and gave her loads of love.
She will be doing little courses in no time 🙂
She does try to drift right, but like everything else I think this is a strength thing and she’ll just have to be ridden out of it.
After class it was Beauty Parlor time – her bridle path was well grown out, and her mane was just getting unnattractive, so it was time to fix her up. She did have some issues with the clippers being up near her ears, and reacted strongly when she heard the sound of hair being trimmed up there, throwing her head up and back. So I slowed down and worked her through it. I’m big on bribing horses, I’ll admit it! So I held the clippers on her poll, just at the place where she was uncomfortable with it, and rubbed her face and gave her treats when she stood quietly. We repeated this several more times before I began to clip her bridle path again, and she got over her worry pretty quickly.
She even let me do her ears, though we had to repeat the desensitization routine again – once she realized there was nothing to worry about AND she got treats for being quiet, she was golden.
I do admit I was worried about the mane pulling. I don’t think we’ve had any horses in so far that were “easy” for their manes – Rosey was decent, but Klondike would only tolerate it for a little while, Kat hated it, Call Sister would try to kill you, and even Archie really, really hated it (it took us several weeks to really get that under control). So I didn’t really know what to expect but Cadence was very, very, very good. She stood quietly, and I made sure to praise her a lot and give her treats when she was exceptionally good. She did start getting ants in her pants after a while but absolutely nothing difficult to deal with or patience-testing. I just had to make her stand a few times and reiterate that standing = treats.
So now Miss Cadence looks like a proper grownup. Well, except for the fact that her legs are so long and she’s obviously growing, anyway 🙂