Yay, I finally got to ride again! I despise winter, only getting to ride once a week if I am lucky. Blech.
Today was a pretty decent day, weather wise. It was sunny, the wind was calm, and it was in the upper 30s. The barnyard/driveway area is clear, except for one spot of ice that is easily avoidable. Of course, it is a little muddy, but not enough to cause the footing to be poor. And of course, this area is only about the size of a 25 m. circle, which makes things rather limited, but we did OK.
I wanted to go on the road and just do some LONG SLOW conditioning miles. But there was someone buzzing around the neighborhood on a four-wheeler, so I made the decision to live rather than get out onto the road and be killed by a stupid teenager illegally riding his four-wheeler. Gotta love rural Maine. *sigh*
But our muddy circle was OK. I did some walk stretching and bending followed by some short burst of trot, and then alternated a marching medium walk and a long and low stretchy walk. Dreamy has become very good at reaching for the bit in the free walk just from my leg...and she actually stretches all the way out. And then when I bring her back onto the contact she no longer is FUSSY. She did some excellent turns on the forehand and then on the haunches. She is so pleasant to ride now that she will actually accept the bit at all times. Good pony! We did some walk/trot/walk transitions too.
I had to be careful not to overdue it with bending on that tiny circle though. At times I tried to ride the area in a "square" shape, since Dreamy is not fit yet I did not want to keep her constantly on a 25 -ish m. circle the entire time. But I think I did OK with asking her to use her muscles and giving her a break.
Then we went out into the field. I was unsure what the footing would be like, so I did not know what to expect. We got some rain last week, so we lost a ton of snow. Last time I rode (2 weeks ago?) the snow was up to her belly. Today is was just about at her ankles, maybe her mid cannon bone. Also there was no ICE and while the first pass around was a bit crunchy, the snow was soft enough to actually make a pretty good base to ride on. She was being so good I decided to just try the canter. I started to the left, her better side. She picked up the correct lead but LUNGED herself into it. I was able to bring her right back to my hand and we went maybe 6-7 strides. I then brought her back and tried it again. I focused REALLY hard on sitting UP and not allowing her to pull me forward. It worked (YAY!) and I got a much better upwards transition the second time. I was impressed because she also did not get pacey (YAY again!) and it never felt like her back legs got all "tangled" up. That is exactly how it feels when she comes down from the canter sometimes. Almost as though she literally cannot figure out where to place her hooves. But none of that to the left. :)
I changed direction and again she LUNGED into the canter. OK, sit up and try again. She LUNGED again. OK, walk for a minute, regroup, SIT UP, half halt, and BOOM she did a very nice transition into the canter to the right. Dropped her head, tucked her butt, and there we go. Yippee! I worked SO HARD to sit up and ride her correctly. And again, no pace and no "tangled" back legs.
I realize that 6 canter strides is not very exciting, but for her to be having decent transitions into and out of the canter in FEBRUARY and in the SNOW makes me so pleased. I was (well..still am) worried about where we will be this spring when I start her back into work "for real", so I am hoping today's ride is an indication of the fact that we did not lose anything! :D Fingers crossed.
She was pretty pleased with herself and did not think we should end there. It took half the 40 m. circle in the field to get her to walk....LOL! She was bouncy and sitting down, saying OK Mom, can I canter again? I know better than to push her right now and I wanted to end on a good note anyway, so the answer was no. About 12 strides later she finally sighs and relaxes...OK Mom, if you SAY so. Silly mare.
I walked her back out to the yard to just cool her out. She was just warm enough that had I cantered again she would have been sweaty. Out of shape, huh, mare? :) I walked her around on a loose rein, then I picked her back up and did some walk/halt.walk transitions. She was fussy and the first 5 halts were rather jittery. Still a little high from that canter? LOL! Then she grew bored with me and sighed......I got a bunch of nice halts and she moved right off my leg when I asked into a marching walk. I let her relax again on a loose rein and called it a day.
I am so excited to get back into the swing of riding and taking lessons. I plan to work SO HARD this year and really see some progress in our canter. I know I can do it, and I know Dreamy can do it. I just need spring to get here! :) I really think her canters today are a sign of what is to come. Bring on the mud and bugs!