While I have been doing a lot of showing this year, I feel like all I write about is showing! But there is so much more to what I do with my horses than just that. I figured it was time for just a general riding progress update. Reva and Dreamy have been doing very well this year. Reva has begun to really grow up and start showing great progress. Dreamy, despite turning 21 years old (!!), is still happy in her work and in really good shape.
Reva is a very sweet mare, and her early work with me was super easy because of her good temperament She did the typical young horse thing, where as soon as the work began to be, well, actual WORK, she started to show a bit of attitude. It really wasn't that bad, but it was obnoxious enough that I really prayed it was just a phase. LOL! She didn't want to bend, she didn't want to learn about half halts, and she would sometimes get herself into such a baby temper tantrum that some of our rides seemed counterproductive. I would say that 50% of the time she was simply not fun to ride. Granted, it was hard to also be working with Dreamy at the same time, who is obviously leap years ahead of Reva. Dreamy has only been under saddle since 2007, but she is mature and has become super fun and easy to ride.
Just in the last six weeks, Reva has started to really come into herself. She has started to bend consistently, maintain a consistent tempo, understand half halts, and stay relaxed nearly the entire time we ride. Her baby teeth are finally all done erupting as well, so I know that had a lot to do with it, and her teeth grinding is gone. Obviously, we still have a ways to go, but she finally seems to be happier in her "work" and I can start pushing her boundaries a bit without her having a temper tantrum. We do still have a problem where she wants to suck back behind the vertical, behind the bit, but I am working very hard to correct that. Her canter is coming along SO WELL! We did some cantering this spring and then I sort of left it alone for a while. I have just started asking her to canter again in the past few rides and it is great! So much more balanced, not so heavy on the forehand, and she is not bucking and acting like a porpoise when I ask her to canter. Just today I had a lesson with her and she was amazing. Even my instructor was impressed (we did not see her the entire month of June because of my crazy schedule) and felt we were making very good progress. Yay Reva! :-)
Dreamy started fussing with her bit back in May; she has been happy in her eggbutt French link snaffle for a very long time, yet all of a sudden all she wanted to do was chomp, chomp chomp. Loose rein, regular rein, walk, trot, canter, halt, ring work, trail...it did not matter. Her teeth had just recently been done, so before I had the vet back out, I tried a few different bits that I already owned. She hated the mullen mouth and single jointed eggbutt (as I suspected), but as soon as I put her back into the KK Ultra loose ring she immediately stopped her fussing. From what I could see into her mouth, it all looked fine. Because she has been happy in the KK Ultra, I never bothered to have the vet out. It was very odd but thankfully only took a few rides to fix.
Other than her weird bit issue, Dreamy has been super easy this year. I think the decision to just do a few events, team penning, and a few fox hunts this fall was a good one on my part. By showing Reva in dressage, it took the pressure off Dreamy and me to keep working at First level and be competitive. It was hard work for her and now at age 21, there is no reason to push, push, push. I have found that all of our First level work is easier now, and I think it is because I took all that competitive pressure away. Dreamy has the month of July off from showing, and all we are doing is gearing up to ride in Acadia National Park again next week with friends. It was the highlight of 2011 for me, and I am excited to go back! I have hit the trails with Dreamy as much as I can here at home this summer and we have been doing lots of trot and canter sets. She looks great! One thing she has really loved doing lately is our "pretend canter rollbacks". We were taught this exercise (and a walk and trot) at our team penning clinic back in May, so I add it in every few rides. Basically, we canter along say on the left lead, halt, back, and then "rollback" to the left (which is really just a nice turn on the haunches for Miss Dreamy Dressage Pony! LOL!!!) and then right lead canter from a walk for 10 strides, halt, back, and then "rollback" to the right. She loves it and will really sit back and use her hind end well.
And I feel funny not mentioning my old girl Sparky. She is 30 years old this spring and looking awesome! She is holding her weight well and seems perky and happy each day. She is pretty much 100% retired now and has rightly deserved it!! :-)