Saturday 4 January 2020

Big Boy Pants Are On!

The first day of the year was a beautiful, warm winter day. That changed overnight. The second day of the year was super windy with snow being whipped around. Thankfully not overly cold, but that wind made it unpleasant to be outside.

It also made things interesting in the indoor arena. Our arena is a Cover-all - one of those canvas covered arenas. When it gets windy out, the canvas gets flappy. And noisy.

A noisy flappy arena used to really set Cisco off. He wanted nothing to do with the scary end of the arena (which tends to be noisier) and would generally try to get the f outta there when the walls started clanging.

With the sound on you can hear the canvas flapping and the wind howling. This was taken during the regular wind; when it gusted it was much louder and bangier.

He's gotten way better about it over the last year. Today's ride on a horse who was still pretty fresh was going to be a pretty good test.

Cisco entered the arena pretty tall and staring down at the scary end. He noticed the flappiness right away.

I walked him down to the end and did a couple of minutes of groundwork. There were a couple of attempts to scoot past me to get out of the corners that we needed to have a discussion about. He was good when I got on, which I was a bit worried about because the mounting block was in a noisy corner.

And overall through the ride? I was really impressed with him.

At the scary end we were able to walk through the end on a loose rein. He was actually better at a walk than he was at a trot. I don't know if we made it on the track at all, but he was really close and only a foot or two bulging to the inside.

Cisco was looking for a reason to leave. He didn't trust the flappy noises at all. But he gave it a chance, kept going forward, and more often than not, when we came out of the corner and headed out of that end he dropped his head and neck. Which got him big praise.

He lost his brain a little bit when the other horse left the arena about halfway through my ride. That gave me a good excuse to work on quick walk/trot/walk transitions and getting him to slow down off my outside rein. He had some nice moments on both the upwards and downwards transitions.

The first few strides of the right lead canter were some of the nicest we've had, including the transition. Totally lost the inside shoulder for most of the couple of circles we did, but I managed to pulse my inside leg strongly and he responded nicely. I wasn't stupid enough to try to canter in the scary end - we stuck to the safe part of the arena.

The left will be our problem side. He was curling up a bit so I'm going to have to really watch that I'm sending him forward and allowing his head and neck to move with my arms. This is my bad side too, unfortunately.

We were walking on a loose rein at the scary end and I was trying to decide if I was going to do some more canter work when a big gust of wind hit the arena. The arena flapped behind us, beside us and in front of us. Cisco had a couple of stutter steps and he wasn't sure which direction he should take to safety, but he kept going, and a couple of strides later had dropped his head and neck again. The gust had scared the crap out of me so I decided that was probably a good place to leave the ride.

Was it a perfect ride? Heck no. But I was really impressed with how well he kept his brain in his head. I remember a ride last March under similar conditions where I could barely get past E. Today, he was worried, but he kept trying and he was able to forget the bad things and concentrate on the moment. This was a big difference from that ride in March.

The other person that was in the arena also commented on how brave Cisco was being. She said you could see that he was concerned but he was trying really hard to do what I was asking of him.
I guess he can stay.

I was super proud of him. There were a lot of people that were avoiding riding in that end today with much more experienced horses but my guy stepped up to the challenge and met it head on.

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