Saturday, February 7, 2009

Birthday gift

This post is specifically for you mom!  In case anyone else is looking and doesn't know what it is, for my birthday mom sent me an Arabian show halter.  Usually the horse is well groomed, trimmed and not in their full winter coat when being photographed with these on, but I didn't want to wait for summer.  I promise prettier pictures come summer (she won't look like such a goat in a few months).  Maybe then I'll learn how to make her stretch out like all those Arabians in the magazines :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Teaching herself

Last weekend we took the next big steps to riding.

Lately I have made a point of completely tacking up Sati for work. It makes her slow down and think (which is great when she's in a crazy mood). She has absolutely no problem with the saddle, though neither of my saddles or girths fit her. She is getting used to the bridle still. The last few times I've worked with her I put the saddle and bridle (with reins) on and ask her to move in circles on a free longe around me. She's great. We don't quite have walk/trot on command but she stops and reverses on command even when she starts getting a little nutty.
Since Sati seems to have quit worrying at the bit quite so much (she's holding it in her mouth on her own) I decided last weekend we would add a new dimension. Saturday I tacked her up and asked her to move out. Then I stopped her and added side reins! Before you ask, no I did not put them on in an effort to "set her head" she'll get that idea later. I put them on, fairly loose, so that she could get the feel of some pressure on the bit when she's moving. An unanticipated benefit is that she bumped her mouth when she tossed her head and she did it only twice. Again I asked her to move around me, with side reins, on a free longe. Again, she did great. At first she held her head high as she has been. But within a few minutes she started dropping it down as that is clearly more comfortable (and that is the point) even with loose side reins. By the end she put her nose to the ground.  She'll have a beautiful topline when she starts collecting.

On Sunday we did the same thing again. This time after doing a few circles with side reins I moved them up a notch (this is still really loose, they would be far too loose on Ketah for instance who is bigger but knows how to carry herself). Sati had no issues, not even chewing the bit she moved out, no head tossing and even started dropping her head to bring her poll almost level with her back. Even better she started stretching out underneath herself. I think she was figuring out how to engage her hindquarters herself! Yay!!

So I decided to give ground driving a short try. I took the side reins off and put the long lines on. We just did a couple of circles at the walk but it was enough for her to get the idea. As usual with her, give her something to think about and she's all business. It seems to be only at the tie rail that we have arguments, I'm waiting for her to grow out of that.

To keep her engaged and thinking we've also started other ground work.  I've started asking her to step over and around obstacles.  The first one was three railroad ties laid in a row about a horse length apart.  She had to stop and look at them once and then I could lead and  her over them with very little issue.  Of course, having done it a couple of times she became secure enough to start being silly about it.  Jumping, rushing and avoiding just because.  But she's doing it and that's the important part.  After all, she will be a trail horse and you need to know how to do this sort of thing!