Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Walk Before You Run...

You know the old saying, you have to walk before you run?  Well, in our case, we have to walk before we trot....(Enter massive dramatic **SIGH** here...)

April was driving me crazy last night.  The past three days she has become progressively worse about standing quietly for her epsom salt soaks.  Last night it came to head - she tore out of the crossties for the third day in a row, bent part of the lead rope halter, and after twenty minutes of trying but only accomplishing two minutes of actual soaking, I threw in the proverbial towel.

My mind started ticking to get to the root of the problem.  You see, I know she's a mare, but she is a typically very well-mannered mare.  So I started thinking about all the influencing factors.  She is an extremely athletic and very FIT mare.  With a really strong work ethic for that matter.  As of last night, she has been out of work for eight days.  So, even though I was wearing shorts and paddock boots, I decided to take her for a walk.  She is sound at the walk, so I didn't feel we would be doing any damage.  Not to mention, encouraging the circulation didn't seem to be a bad idea either.  So I threw on a bridle and hopped on bareback.

First mistake - I tried to hack her around the edge of the property, after a pretty massive rainstorm had just passed.  Being the eventer pony, she promptly decided that walking through the mini creek was not an option, she would JUMP it instead.

Note - this is in my work capri pants - made of very SLICK fabric.  On the pony coated in Pyranha fly spray, which I have decided is the most slippery flyspray on the planet.  Yet somehow, miraculously, I managed to stay on.  So we opted to head back to the ring, to give the exuberant pony some "boundaries" for her pent up energy.  Now, of course, she had to hop the creek again, and try to canter up to meet Linkin.  (Enter major slippage and mane-grabbing, as well as the humorous images of your choice....)

So, enter the ring.  And the walk.  Which, we were supposed to be doing all along....April didn't get that memo.

We started working on what I have dubbed our "bareback dressage".  And you know, it was actually a pretty darn good thing.  She was so eager to WORK.  It was the best work at the walk that we have ever had together outside of a lesson.  Hands down.  I focused on keeping my hands steady but my elbows SOFT - something I have gotten bad about lately.  Every time she softened into the contact, I used my inside hand to scratch her withers, and reaffirm what a good girl she is.  We worked on figure eights, a little leg yield here and there, and our free walk.  I discovered we have a good bit of work to do there, because she anticipates the collection of the reins after the free walk to mean that we are going to trot.  We worked on nice forward halts, and a little bit of spiraling in and out.  All at the walk. 

Everything happens for a reason, right?  People keep telling me that, and it's hard not to want to bang their heads like coconuts, because it's easy for people to tell you that when their horse is just fine....(okay, I'm only kidding!!!!)  But seriously, I've been desperately searching for my reason, and I think I found a part of it last night.  We are building our foundation at the walk for the moment.  It's been a gait we have always struggled with, but when we get the walk right, everything flows so easily from there.  So now I am being forced to master it, which is obviously going to benefit us in the long run.  So that's my tiny ray of sunshine for the week.

The huge ray of sunshine though - sitting on my pony.  I nearly cried just being able to sit on her again.  I knew I missed her, but I had no CLUE how much. 

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