I probably shouldn’t be, but I find it surprising how much riding Lucky is like riding a “normal” horse. In other words, not a racehorse. I go to the barn, get him out, put him in the crossties, complain about how much sand he managed to grind into his coat, groom him, tack him up and go for a ride. Sure, there are little things (track-style picking of his feet from the near side, something I give up arguing with him about, the odd step-off when mounting, the fact that he likes inside rein/inside leg for a canter cue) but mostly, we’ve gotten to where I get on, he takes some prodding for the first trot, and it’s not far different from riding my old horse when he was eight, when he’d been four years off the track.
Forward is better. The whip is still a mandatory accessory as he needs a tap or two at times to get going in the first trot, and there is not much bending through corners going on (though there is a tiny bit.) Contact is slowly being achieved, and best of all the canter is now coming from almost a walk on the left, and with a relatively short distance of trot steps on the right. The lead is even more correct than not. Today he picked up the left on the first try, but when he stumbled I still don’t have enough contact to keep him up, and he swapped to recover. I think he scared himself a bit, too. The one major thing I would change at the barn, which overall is awesome, is the outdoor, while huge, has a significant slope. Not a big hill, but enough that he feels it going up and has to balance himself going down, which I suppose is good preparation for riding out, but does make balancing him harder. I do like that there’s the sand arena, but there’s also a long strip of grass down one side, so I can work him and jump him on two different surfaces without having to haul the jumps very far or find a wide-open spot on the grass when everyone’s turned out in the pastures.
I think he’s starting to get the idea about jumping. Though only for very short periods. I really need to learn to quit while I’m ahead, but when he’s going forward, and actually seeming to anticipate the X or the pole, it’s hard to make one pass and say “We’re good.” He is starting to pick UP speed, though, rather than slow down, though we had a “Whoa wait what?” moment trotting the poles at first (J. bought PVC pipe to replace the grayed, warping wood poles that tended to blend into the sand and I think the bright-white made Lucky do a double take.) But the second time, we rapped the X hard, and the third he knocked a rail down.
Tomorrow I’m not sure what we’ll do. I’m debating taking him out for a gallop and giving him a mental break, but it’ll depend on the weather. I had a cold towel around my neck, was wearing thin cotton tights and an open-neck polo, and there were still moments where it was simply hot.
Apparently, we have found one thing that Lucky will react to: I had a message from the B.O. earlier this week. They were having an estate auction across the road, and there was a loudspeaker system. Lucky is in the closest paddock to the road, with just a house and yard between him and the street and the house hosting the sale, and apparently could hear everything. According to the B.O., as soon as the loudspeaker came on, his head went up, and he started racing and prancing around his pen like it was off to the races. My mom, when I told her, asked the interesting question “I wonder what he’d think of the fair?” It does make you wonder what he’d think about a horse show and the public-address system.