Tuesday 10 March 2020

We've Found Stuff to Work On

14 hour days are not conducive to getting the house cleaned, groceries shopped for, or blogs about horses written. Add in having to get up at 5am for work some days of the week (it would be easier if it was every day instead of only some days) and not much has been getting done. It feels like I'm either at work, the barn, or sleeping.

But the ponies have been getting ridden! At least a couple of rides a week. In theory, the days that I work at 6 am would leave me lots of time to get horses ridden in the afternoon. In reality, I don't get to bed early enough, and end up going home and having a nap, which may or may not leave me with energy to do anything afterwards.

The super long days have been affecting my body. I spend most of my work day on my feet - I get anywhere from 13,000 to 18,000 steps in during a regular shift. Add going to the barn afterwards, where I am either on my feet or on a horse for the 3 to 5 hours that I'm there, and my step count hits 23,000 to 29,000 steps (I let the riding count as steps as I work far harder when I ride than when I walk).

My body occasionally needs a break. One where I barely get off the couch for the day. That was Thursday this week.
We have a barn cat who is very vocal and demanding. She is older and constantly seeks warmth. People have taken to putting her on their horses back while they are tacking up to keep her quiet and happy. This is her perched on her favorite horse, Khan. She comes running when his owner brings him in.
Cisco was ridden on Monday and Tuesday this week, Phantom only went on Tuesday. Weather and work didn't allow for me to get into the saddle in the later part of the week.

I was quite happy with my ride on Cisco on Monday. I really want to start jumping him this year (I know, I've been saying that for a while). However, I haven't really done a lot of flatwork geared towards jumping. Specifically, I haven't done a lot of cantering over poles, and I haven't done much any 2 point.

On that night I broke down a few jumps and set some of the poles into random spots. I didn't realize until I got on that I did a crap job of it though. I set one pole on a diagonal with nowhere to go on the landing side, and there was only a single pole on one long side because I didn't want to move the 6 poles on the other side out of my way (I'd have to put them back after my ride). Thus I only had 5 poles to work with.

Cisco has cantered a single pole a few times, but not often, and not in a while. The goal for the evening was to put together a mini course of 4 or 5 poles in a somewhat decent manner.

We managed it. With a whole lot to work on.

He actually surprised me by very quickly looking for the next pole. The turn might be a bit ugly, but once he saw the pole he locked onto it. To the point that he dragged me over the pole on the long side when we were supposed to go past it and turn afterwards across the diagonal.

His pace wasn't terrible, and he mostly listened and we had a lot of good distances. There were a couple of courses when he settled partway through into a nice canter that made the turns easy and I was able to ride forward out of the turn.
Phantom's back is just as comfortable.
But he was oh so wiggly. Which I think was mostly due to me being up in a 2 point. My position isn't super strong (it's been years since I've done it for more than a few strides at a time). I tried really hard to make sure that I wasn't using the reins for balance. Cisco had to find his balance with me in this position, so I think that was what mostly contributed to the wiggliness.

Our corners need some work. I mean, they need work at a canter on a normal flat ride, so I wasn't expecting miracles on this night. But my expectations when jumping are to use the whole space and ride a straight line after the jump/pole and deep into the turn. It's not like he was ducking sideways right after the pole or anything, but our turns were a bit more scrambly and disorganized than I would like. Being able to ride deep into the ends will help this significantly.

Since his time off due to his puncture injury, Cisco seems to have lost his canter transitions. The couple of rides before his holiday we were having lovely step into the canter transitions. Since, they have been atrocious. I plan to make sure I school these every ride with many transitions through the ride.

I was a bit worried that I was going to have problems getting over the pole on the center line at A, which is the scary end of the arena, and has been especially scary as of late. I was also worried that he would slam on the brakes after the pole on the quarter line as we headed in that direction. But he was good about it. The poles may have given him something to focus on.

Overall, I was really happy with him. There's lots to work on, but nothing that I didn't expect. I'm hoping that the "jumping" canter will help him find his balance and his forward in our regular flatwork. And most importantly, he really seemed to like it.

Now, I just need to put my big girl pants on and raise those speed bumps!

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