I had thought today was going to be a bust, given the huge storms this morning. Poor Puff was a nervous wreck, and spent some time in the crate (it was that or my lap, and he weighs forty pounds.) But by the time I got out of work, it had cleared up and turned sunny. Not that hot, fortunately. I can do without another round of heat prostration.
Even so, I didn’t ride for too long. For a start, I discovered when I arrived that if everyone is in the barn, and you give ONE horse a drink, EVERYONE needs a drink. Because of the storms, all the horses were inside, and a couple had empty buckets. It was close enough to feeding time that the ones who didn’t need water assumed that I must be there with dinner. So everyone got a little extra water so we could all see no one was getting anything exciting.
Thanks to a recent thread on COTH, I found I’ve apparently been holding pelham reins wrong all these years. I’ve been holding them the way I was taught (snaffle between the ring and little fingers, curb rein beneath the little finger.) Apparently one is supposed to run the snaffle through the ring and little fingers, but the curb above between the ring and middle fingers. Besides feeling quite odd, it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference so far, but as it doesn’t seem to do anything bad (besides mess with my muscle memory and as a kinesthetic learner that’s profoundly annoying) I will work with it. Wouldn’t want to be wrong, and Lucky does not seem to care either way.
After yesterday’s scorching temperatures and storms starting in the evening (which I spent at my first dance party at my new studio here, which was a lot of fun for everyone except my feet) today was actually quite nice. Still hot, but there was a nice breeze. I don’t know if Lucky was enjoying the cool weather, or figured that cooperating would get me off his back faster, but overall, he was good. I’ve been suspecting that he’s a little footsore–the protest-by-stopping, without obvious lameness or back soreness, and his tendency to pick things up in his hooves (I’ve cleaned out more pebbles from his hooves in seven months than I did from Benny’s in fifteen years) so I think he may be more tender some days than others. Today was apparently not one of those days–he was a little fussy about standing still, in fact, and despite not especially wanting to bend right he eventually decided to trot on.
Today was a good day for cantering, in the sense of picking it up. In the sense of getting the correct lead, not so much, but he was consistently wrong–first try to the right he picked up the left, first try to the left, he picked up the right. I did get probably a half-circuit each direction of the correct lead. On the right, we had a stumble, as I picked it up at the far end going towards the woods, which is a downhill slope, but he got it back. On the left, it took a great deal more fussing and a smack on the shoulder (which is probably reinforcing a racing command, but if it gets me a swap, I will take it.) I suspect I’m also a victim of muscle memory here, as the canter cue has always been one thing, but he has the ‘opposite’ racing cues just as ingrained. After getting a good lead each way, I let canter go for the day.
We now have white poles for jumps, and after working on trotting ground poles in a straight line (left to his own devices Lucky drifts right like a car in serious need of an alignment) I took him over a 6″ and a 9″ “vertical” (they’re on standards so they’re not really cavaletti, and yes, I know, baby heights, but baby steps here.) And first time through, we have achieved jump! The canter to it was not asked for, but since he picked it up I went with it. The spot was not the prettiest in the history of over-fences, but he actually put a little effort, I didn’t catch him with my seat or hands, and I didn’t have to go to the stick and heels to keep him forward after the fence. Now, if I’d been smart, I’d have quit there, but I told him “One more and we’re done.” So this time he took the top rail down. Being sans ground crew, I decided to let it go, as there was no stopping and he went forward over both jumps without stopping, and I didn’t want to push my luck. So, .500 for the day overall, but I suppose I should count it as a little bit more victory than failure as he is learning to go ON.
Now it just needs to be a little cooler so we can go back on the track for a little galloping. Or at least a little less humid. Mr. Florida-Bred probably thinks I’m a wuss, but I notice he’s not complaining about getting a hosedown and Vetrolin brace after working, either.