Given the footing situation outside here in the mid-Atlantic, even though the horses have been getting out, they haven’t been doing much moving around–you can pretty much see the hoof tracks straight from gate to roundbale, and not really anywhere else. And when Cally doesn’t move around much, she gets all kinds of tight in her back, leading to some fun and occasionally explosive bucking; this has been knowledge acquired through several extended-stall-rest-rehabs. So it’s not too shocking that while she’s been pretty well behaved, and her generally good self, when I’ve been asking for a canter lately, we’ve been getting some really WOOHOOO!!!! moments. Which undersaddle, with others in the ring, is not such a great thing, though I realize she just needs to get that excess something out, and knock out the kinks; if she was trying to get me off, I’d have been in the dirt, while this was just a bit of hopping and porpoising. Rather than carry on dealing with that while other people were trying to ride and have lessons, we just did some work on walk-trot-walk transitions on Friday, and got some very nice work done with that, and eventually a nice bit of lovely stretchy trot.
Saturday, after spending much of the day with WBBF and Daisy A. Dog, I headed out to the barn closer to dinner time, hoping to get the ring to myself so we could do some lunging, and let her do what she needed to do without me on her. One other boarder was handwalking, but could easily split the ring with us, so I went down to the far end of the ring, clipped the lunge line onto her bridle, and stepped back. I don’t think Cally took two steps of walk before blasting off at a canter like she’d been launched from a starting gate. It wasn’t so much bucking as it was a bit of running and a few kicks out, and while there was a part of me screaming not to let her act stupid on the lunge line, it’s for training, the other part of me realized that this was much better than the alternative of riding through it. Plus she knows how lunging works; she wahooed around for a bit, then settled down to this nicer canter, and eventually relaxed down to a trot.
Then we changed directions, and rinse and repeat. She was on the lunge line for maybe 10 minutes total, and when I pulled her up and coiled up the line, she seemed to have such a “THANK YOU for letting me get that out!” look on her face.
Despite the weather forecast, I decided to try for the gymnastic lesson Sunday morning. It was a little wintry-mix when I got in the car, but I headed out anyway, and was apparently the only one willing to brave the weather. So I asked if we might do a bit of free jumping instead, as when we’ve done that in the past, Cally has gotten much more relaxed and confident about her jumping, and it’s a nice mental break from riding. I tossed her on the lunge for a few minutes, with no shenanigans at all, then just left her loose while I helped Susan set up the jumps. Cally was wild, wild I say, as she supervised jump setup.
Since she knows how it free jumping works, we started with a pole to a crossrail, with ground poles where the other fences would be. She just loped right on through, easy as could be. We let her do that twice more, before putting the second fence up, and once again, easy as could be. After another pass like that, and both of us expressing great delight at how easily she was taking to this after not having jumped much, we put up the last fence, and she landed, and must have really felt good cracking her back over the fence, because she then seemed to realize she was free, and could have a grand old time if she wanted to, so she did some fun rollbacks and circles before I caught her again. After that, we had a bit of trouble getting her to focus on going through the jump chute rather than galloping off around the arena like a crazy thing. She wore herself out a bit more than we planned to exercise her, and was getting a bit tired by the time she settled down and went through the cute again nicely. But even looking tired, she just loped through like it was all no big deal.
We ended with that, as I was really happy with how quietly and politely she was going down the line, and that even quiet, she was more than making the step. I think that was really just what she needed–both the jumping and the bit of running around, to really get everything out of her system. I’m looking forward to heading out today, hopefully with the ice melted, and see how she’s feeling undersaddle now. I hope that’s gotten us up over the hump, and that the weather will slowly ease into more springlike temperatures and let us keep working. Because I really want to get back to experiencing this with me in the tack.
Rather than this, which is what I enjoyed with Daisy on Saturday. Yes, that is the Potomac River, and it was frozen good and solid. I was standing on it to take this picture, and there were animal tracks the whole way across. This needs to end.
Nineteen more days til spring, right?