Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Going It Solo

Since Sunday was our mini obstacle course and yesterday we were rained out, today was the first chance we had to practice everything we learned when Alex was out on Saturday.

Things didn't start off all that well because Lilly was in a mood. What mood was that? A looky-loo, snorty-snort kind of mood. Even in the cross ties she seemed a little on edge, which is unusual. On our way to the arena she snorted at the giant, brown, horse eating monster (trash can) and was blowing at everything. I ended up taking her to the trash can so she could sniff it, but she wasn't convinced that it wasn't going to breathe fire and kill us both. After our walk around the arena and our stifle exercises, though, she seemed to settle in, and by the time I was in the saddle she was ready to work!

I rode her in our usual english tack. My only other option is english saddle and western bridle, but I don't want to overdo the new western bit because I'm still learning myself. Perhaps I'll alternate bridles when I ride so she gets a taste of both as we work more on our cantering.

We did our usual warm-up and then I went right into some trotting and jogging exercises. As was suggested by Alex, every time there was a transition, I exaggerated the "head set" (I hate that term...) to encourage her to really keep her head level throughout the entire transition. She did really well!

We did a bunch of serpentines in and out of a line of cones, and worked on our extended trot to slow jog exercises. I tried getting her to slow her extended trot by slowing the rate at which I was posting. She seemed to understand exactly what I was asking. Now that I'm riding more with my body and less with my reins, I'm amazed at how little it takes on my part to get a response from her. She's such a smart girl!

After we were done trotting, I moved on to the canter circles. The arena was quite wet from the rain so I had to find an area that was fairly dry. The end where Alex and I worked was too soggy, so I moved some stuff around and worked her in the center of the arena. I think my circles were bigger than the ones we did on Saturday, but after I walked it a couple times to give myself a pattern to follow, they seemed to be just about right.

Lilly did amazingly well in both directions! She wasn't rushy at all and stayed very consistent throughout the entire thing. It was still quick, but she didn't seem upset or worried, and it felt a lot better than it did on Saturday. I don't know if it's because the circles were bigger, or if she'll just have some good and some bad days? I decided to do 10 circles in each direction, and I'll increase the number each time we ride, assuming the circles stay nice like they were today. If she's rushy and super quick, we'll just canter until she's more relaxed. I want to build a level of fitness before we start the canter-stop-back-canter exercises that are in our future.

Here's what we left in the arena after our canter circles:

A nice circle!
My boarder friend (we'll give her a name and call her S since she's been mentioned here quite a few times) called me when she was riding to complain about the tracks we left in the arena. :)

It was a great ride! I cooled her down, cleaned her hiney, turned her out, stuffed her hay net, and she was a happy girl! I hope this weather keeps up too... it's fantastic!

Looking thinner by the day! No more giant hay belly!
They're calling for more rain tomorrow and then Thursday my trimmer comes out, but I'm looking forward to our next ride! They're so much more fun than they used to be. I think Lilly agrees!


  1. It's supposed to be nice by the weekend, maybe a bit more "seasonal" with the temps but dry! Your girl looks great :)

  2. Dressage riders are obsessed with tracks. Your circles are amazingly round and consistent! Good job.

  3. I agree with Terry, those circles look amazingly circular! Lilly looks great and I'm so glad things are going so well! Although I am super jealous of how sleek she looks. Are you sure you're not slipping in a picture from August there??

  4. Yay! Fantastic circles!!! When I have transitioning bits, I would often take both bridles to the arena, using the bit he was used to until he was working well and calmly obeying, then I'd switch. That way we could get the first bit of schooling done without the added stress of a weird bit.

  5. Nice round circles! Love them!

    I'm so glad that you're having such nice rides, even if she starts out a little looky. She knows she needs to settle down and work, and that's wonderful! Congrads!

  6. Thanks everyone! I was quite impressed with our circles too... afterwards I was like, "wow, they look like circles!" :)

    Funder, she does look pretty sleek, doesn't she? She never grows much of a winter coat anyway, but add 55 degree temperatures and that hair just lays down flat!

    SillyPony, that's an excellent idea! I think I'll do that next time I ride... :)

  7. YAY for the good ride and beautiful circles!!!

    If the next 2-3 times you canter she is relaxed like she was today then start adding 2-3 canter-stops towards the end of the cantering. You are really going to smooch and have a big cue because you want her to canter from the stand-still. :)