"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Reins


I went to the barn on Monday despite it being a rather gloomy, overcast day (no mist, thank God), fetched Lily from the field and brought her in just in time before the farrier/trimmer arrived. As it turned out, Lily did not need her entire shoes replaced-the trimmer simply removed the casting, trimmed her front feet back a bit with the rasp, then re-casted them. It only cost me $30. This will make the Eponas stay on for another 3 weeks, at which point she feels Lily will be good to go barefoot! Yay!

The rain held, so I tacked up and I took her to the outdoor. The footing was moist, but the arena had been dragged, so there were no puddles. We did an easy workout-almost an hour, but we spent a lot of time walking at the beginning to warm up and at the end to cool down. Just walk-trot-canter sets, with a couple of walk-canter transitions, which I ended giving up on because I wasn't getting the timing of the cue right, and she was putting in a trot step or two to pull off the transition into canter. We'll try it again another day. We did no lateral work at all. I've been in need of inspiration lately when it comes to the dressagey stuff.

Happy after our ride

It was in the high 40's and she did break a sweat, so I put her cooler on her afterwards so she wouldn't get chilled while I cleaned her legs and tail, and worked on her feet. The trimmer didn't do her hinds, so I went ahead and did them myself. I ended up not backing them much at all, as her angles are perfect right now and she's been moving really well. I'll take a little bit more off next week.

Since my cough hasn't resolved 100% yet, I did take yesterday off, as the weather was awful. And also because we had to pack-we are moving again, this time to Maryland, to a little apartment we found only 10 minutes from the barn, and 7 minutes from work! It is a longer drive for Charles now, but his contract in Georgetown will be up the first week of March, and our new apartment will place us right in the middle of all of the available work options for him. I have loved living in Alexandria the last 3 months, but it will be really, REALLY nice to be so close to the barn again!

I returned today to put in another ride before having to move tomorrow. The weather was even worse today-in the upper 30's, overcast, and constantly drizzling. The horses had been left indoors due to the weather, so it was a good thing I went out so Lily could get some time outside of her stall.

She was super sweet and cuddly when I arrived, nuzzling me and practically begging for head hugs. She was wearing her midweight blanket and was comfortable in it, which goes to show just how cold it felt-she tends to get warm in it when she is in her stall.

I tacked her up, wishing I had my quarter sheet already (I scored a really cute one for an awesome price on eBay. It should arrive Friday). I left her blanket on while I did her feet and put on her dressage boots. She doesn't really need them, but I see them as leg warmers. If I feel warmer in my half chaps or winter boots, I'm assuming she feels warmer in polo wraps or her dressage boots. It also helps warm up her tendons. Does anyone else out there boot or wrap their horse's legs for additional warmth, too?

"Leg warmers"

I left her blanket folded over her rump while I put her saddle on and girthed it up, only removing it after I'd put her bridle on.

Warm butt while tacking up

The new bit-it's a soft rubber mouth Pelham with 4" shanks. She's been working really well in it!

We then went into the indoor.

Lily was somewhat tense warming up at the walk. The doors to the outside were open, and she saw something out there that scared her, because she spooked and took 3 giant leaps sideways, but stopped immediately when I said, "Eeeaaasy..." (Love my new winter breeches! Charles got me the Kerrits Power Stretch Full Seat breeches, and they are super warm AND make you stick like glue in the saddle!) I let her walk over to the doorway and look outside, and then we worked on lots of circles on the bit at the walk at that end of the arena, until she was calm and focused again. We did some short loopy serpentines from the wall to the center line, then some leg yield zig-zags from the wall to the quarter line in both directions, all at the walk. We then picked up the trot and worked on circles-big 20 meter circles at both ends of the arena in both directions, then little 10m circles in the corners, then spirals, in and out, in both directions and across the length of the arena. Lily was relaxed and concentrating, and even the spirals (which I used to hate with a vengeance!) were easy. I then let her stretch on a loose rein at the walk, then we picked up the trot again and worked on lengthening across the diagonal. Effortless. She was stepping forward eagerly, pushing from behind, to the point where I was getting that little extra half a second of air while posting, not because I was forcing it, but because she was creating it.

I then sat and we did some loops at a collected trot across the center of the arena, with lots and lots of changes of direction, and then I pushed my hands forward and rose to post, and Lily automatically extended into a medium trot without any other encouragement from me. We zoomed around the arena like this a few more times, and then we called it a day. We walked for a long time, and then I just dropped the reins on her neck and practiced doing circles and changes of direction with no hands. She did it PERFECTLY!! This is the first time ever where I've been able to do this, ride with no reins and get her to change direction only with my legs and seat. That's how focused she was today. I've tried it before, but she would get distracted and sooner or later I would need to pick up a rein to remind her she was supposed to be turning.

I asked her to stop, with the reins still on her neck. She didn't stop with my seat cue, but she did stop when I said, "Whoa." Since we only did walk and trot, she didn't break a sweat at all, except under her girth, despite having worked for nearly an hour. I put her cooler on while I put all of my stuff away, and the little bit of sweat dried off quickly. The cooler came off, her midweight blanket went on, and she was ready to go back to her hay in her stall.

It was a really great ride.

Before leaving the barn, I heard BQ announce she had just heard on the radio that we have a storm warning for tomorrow and we might be getting 6" of snow. We are MOVING tomorrow! Last time we moved we were driving in front of a hurricane, now we'll be moving in the middle of a snow storm. I mean, seriously. WTF??!!

I hope the weathermen are ALL wrong.


  1. Hurrah about the barefootness. Yay Eponas.

    Yipee yi yay about the move close to the barn!!!!

    Your workouts with Lily inspire me to get out and work on things like that with Q. Do you have any suggestions for some easy exercises I could work on? My dressage knowledge is slowly increasing from time spent in the blogosphere, but its still not super high up there, so they will have to be exercises I can understand! Haha. estout18 (at) gmail (dot) com if you get some time and have some suggestions!

  2. Definitely, Liz! We should have our computer set up by tonight, and I can e-mail you then. :)