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



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mares

I rode Jezebel yesterday again, and we had a pretty good session!

She started out very distracted and with a case of the zooms at the trot, but only when we were rounding the corners at the back of the outdoor arena. She would brace somewhat against the bit, and start trotting really fast. I'd turn her head to the inside to get the bit back, and have her circle. This would effectively bring her attention back to me. Within the space of the circle, she would relax and soften. Jez is starting to get the hang of the canter cue-not so much fast trotting to make the transition, and her canter felt much more organized-more up, not so strung out and flat. Her steering at the canter already feels better-previously it felt like taking turns on a motorcycle, inward tilt and all! She is very willing to make a down transition to a walk from a canter, as I let her stretch. We worked on the stretch itself: Jez will stick her neck straight out at the walk, but I widened my hands and put gentle pressure on the reins, encouraging her to stretch doooowwn. Every time she even hinted at responding, I lightened the pressure. She's not bringing her nose all the way to the ground like Lily does, but she's getting the hint. We also did lots and lots of transitions-walk-halt-trot-walk-halt-walk-trot-halt. By the end she was stopping as soon as I pinched with my knees and said "Whoa"...as long as I had her attention. I didn't even attempt bringing her to a halt while she was trying to zoom, as I knew it would have been a lost cause. Sally had mentioned Jezebel can get distracted when she's in heat, and I certainly think she's showing the signs.

After all of this, we just did some more work at the trot, and the little mare surprised me by coming onto the big and softening in the bridle. I looked at our shadow, and she had assumed the ideal Training Level frame:

Not Jezebel, but this is the frame she was assuming.
I mean, she's a 5 year old OTTB. I was expecting a change like that to take much longer! I made sure to tell Sally later what a nice mare she has. As luck would have it, she arrived just as I was untacking Jezebel. We talked about her for a long time, and then Sally got on and rode for a bit. Jez continued to be a good girl-she has a great work ethic!

Afterwards, I fetched my own silly girl from the field and tacked up. I have ordered a new lightweight blanket for her-her sheet + cooler combo is not working for turnout and has rubbed her shoulders bare! The sheet doesn't have shoulder gussets-it is a 600 denier Weatherbeeta Genero that I got for her last year while we were in FL so she could go out at night during the winter even if it was supposed to rain.

Yes, Lily's is in this same funkadelic print (it's called Geocities), which would make her super-visible when she's out in the field. Except the entire sheet is 100% covered in mud within 5 seconds of her being turned out...

It was not intended for extended turnout, or I would have gotten something with shoulder gussets from the start. I also didn't think she'd be wearing the sheet+stable blanket combo most of the time here, or I would have gotten something lighter than 200g fill (her midweight). Apparently my mare runs hot. The new blanket is the Tuffrider Thermo-lined Turnout Blanket. I love the Thermo Manager line, and probably would have never even considered it had it not been for my stint at the tack shop in Tampa-the store owner used to rave about the Thermo Manager, and her daughter (my trainer) had these for her horses. So of course I got one as soon as I needed one-the stable blanket/cooler I'm always talking about is a Thermo Manager, and has done a great job on 3 different horses for the last 3 winters, some of which did go down into the low 30s in South FL. The barn I boarded at down there was NOT built to retain heat and would be colder inside than outside in the winter. Lily stayed warm wearing only this at night, and looked sharp to boot in this. The fabric repels shavings and sawdust. If any get on the blanket, just brush it and they fall off. It's SO easy to clean too-just throw it in the washer, and then put it on a low heat cycle in the dryer. It comes out as good as new! If you want to read more about the awesomeness of the Thermo Manager Stable Blanket, go here.

Lily was fairly "up" when I got on. She's probably going into heat too-she was very sensitive and prancy, so we trotted around until she settled (she was particularly inclined to going sideways vs forwards!) then I asked her to canter. She picked up the canter snappily, and we went twice around the arena on the left lead...and then she gave a big scoot sideways as we cantered past the gate, and I snatched at the reins before she could get her head down, instantly bringing her down to a trot. It was so quick and so smooth that Sally and Heather, Nate's mom, who were standing right by the gate with their horses, didn't even notice. We trotted on, did some more circles (Lily was all for shoulder-in circles again...) then changed directions and picked up the canter again. Normal, very collected canter. Really nice! More trot, then more cantering in both directions, and Lily did fine. After that I let her stretch and walk, then stopped by the fence to talk to Sally, BQ, and Jackie, who lives in the upstairs apartment in the barn and also helps take care of the horses. Lily had sidled up to the fence so that her left side was almost touching it, so I decided to do something wild (lol)..I dismounted from the right. I went about it really slow and she gave me tense ears, but did okay. She took a step back when I landed, but that was it. We'll have to practice that more.



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