What a fun weekend!
On Saturday I played hooky from the barn again (I was sick all week- so, excepting one day when I held a horse for x-rays, this meant a full seven days of no riding. Amazing!) and drove up to Harrisburg PA to the open house at Penn Ridge Farm. In addition to meeting some wonderful and fun racing people, I got to see the wonderful Real Quiet, who still looks every inch the Kentucky Derby Winner. One of the things I love so much about Thoroughbreds is how many of them have that “LOOK AT MEEEE!!!” personality. Real Quiet spent his entire time out striking photogenic poses (drat, left the camera in the car! boo!) and watching the crowd like he expected applause at any moment.
In a bit of a small-world coincidence, I also ran into a trainer who donated a lovely horse to CANTER a while back- Sunshine Admiral. Who, by further coincidence, has apparently found his way back to us. Look for more updates on him soon!
Sunday, obviously, meant time to catch up. Odds and ends from the auction (hopefully, the last of it! And thank you letters! Whee!), and getting some horses ridden.
Stephen is doing very well. He is recovered from his illness and being ridden by two volunteers who split duty with him. His Sunday rider describes him as, “so lazy!!!” No worries Lea, we’ll find the go button soon! Stephen is also sort of a case study in the slightly harder-to-keep TB. He lost some weight with his illness, and in addition had some difficulty adjusting to field board and getting off his racing medications. So in addition to his daily feeding (mix of pellets/sweet feed, 10/10), he also gets a bucket of soaked alfalfa pellets, with rice bran pellets (for added fat), a probiotic (to aid digestion), and Platinum Performance. PP is an excellent supplement, consider this a shout-out to that company ;) I’m going to try and get some condition photos so we can track his progress.
Afton is, as always, wonderful. I think that he had all week off (again, I wasn’t there, so who knows!), which would make the ride we had Sunday even more wonderful. Standing at the mounting block was MUCH better than the last few times I rode. Also much more relaxed at the trot, or at least, willing to come back to the walk and relax, and even stop and stand. He’s going into his corners much better and not motorcycling as much, too.
One of the bigger issues we’re having is control of his shoulder. Especially to the right, he likes to really bulge that shoulder out on the second half of the circle. I’m starting to figure out that fixing it involves not only my left leg and keeping outside rein contact correct (resisting the urge to cross my left hand over the neck, heh), but it also involves me learning to shift my weight a little better. Like when asking to canter, things seem to get a little better when I weight my outside hip more and sit deeper on that side. So I have to work on that a bunch.
He still has some issues once we canter. He doesn’t understand regulating the canter, and still likes to increase his speed as we go around. He’s very sensitive to my weight shifting forward, so this is a great horse for me to ride to really learn to sit deep and upright. After cantering, coming back to relaxed-walk is much more difficult for him than it is at the trot. He still seems to get in a mindset that canter = work = “we’re going to work till we’re tired, so why are we walking again? Let’s go!” I feel a little bad because I got a little forceful a few times, “um, no, I really mean walk now!” but I suppose he knows enough at this point that I can tell him when I mean it, right?
On the other hand, we cantered our first canter pole, which didn’t phase him in the slightest, and increased the trot poles to four, which also was no problem. Cantering poles is really fun on him, and I think will translate to a good jumping experience, once we get that canter a little better. He goes absolutely straight on the approach and landing of the pole, and will stop in a straight line easily. Hopefully the Sunday gymnastic lessons will start soon- despite the not-so-fantastic flatwork, I think he’ll be really good at it and enjoy it. We just have to perfect turning, so we can actually get straight approaches to said gymnastics (to the right, the tight turn is easy, to the left, not so much, heh).
In other news, a lovely and gracious friend of mine who designs belt buckles and jewelry is doing something very sweet for us this month. Check it out: