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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Awesome Rides

On Thursday, I was at the barn before noon.

I brought Lily in from the paddock, and put her in her stall to groom and tack up. I had set up her hay cubes, but she got so wound up being in the stall that she barely touched them. I got pretty irritated with her, as she was getting wired despite my being in the stall with her-I would have thought she'd realize this was a change of routine and the fact that I was tacking up would let her know that I had no intention of leaving her locked up by herself. She started seeking comfort from me, turning her head to nuzzle me, which made me feel really bad about having been annoyed at her.

We had another great ride, where she was up and forward and like putty to bend, extend and collect. Halfway through, I stopped her to fling my arms around her neck and kiss her, she was being that awesome. I worked on transitions until I was able to get her loose enough to where her walk was loose and swinging. It's the walk she does after warming up on the trail, and it almost has an oscillating quality to it -her back will stretch and compress with each stride, at the same side swinging from side to side. We have been able to re -create it in the arena before. 

This time, we achieved it at the 30 minute mark, and I cut the session short then. Lily had been absolutely wonderful. I thanked her profusely for such a great ride, then untacked her and sat outside with her in the sun while she finished her hay cubes. After that, I put her back out with Jezebel and went home. 

Charles was shocked-I was at the barn for only 3 hours for once, and we had time to go exploring afterwards.

Charles had found this really cool little restaurant named Fire Station 1 in Silver Springs, close to the used CD/DVD store he likes to go to. The restaurant literally used to be a fire station. It turns out the place is also a brewery. The food was okay, but their beer was pretty awesome, especially their stout.

The top floor of Fire Station 1. Not my photo, but this is where we sat. That's the upstairs bar on the left.

On Friday I was back at the barn early, and was able to get a head start on the excavator. John and Alex were still shoveling the stalls, and only one other boarder was there. There is something about a quiet barn early in the morning, hearing the guys talking in Spanish in low tones in the background. It reminded me of an infinite number of mornings spent at the barn back on the island.

Lily was still getting settled in the paddock, while Jez was happily munching on the hay Alex had thrown out for them (another perk of being on semi-private turnout-they get hayed.) My goofball decided to give me a run for the money, trotting and cantering around the turnout, looking at me as she ran past, "Come on! Chase me!" I stood laughing at her, as this is the first time she has ever invited me to play, but waited for her to stop. I didn't want to start a new habit. She surprised me by trotting right up to me. I rubbed her neck and talked to her, but did not clip the lunge line to her halter right away. Of course Lily noticed this, and decided that she was going to run a little bit more.

When she finally stopped again, I caught her and took her straight from the turnout to the outdoor, where I removed her blanket and lunged her, since she was feeling so hyper. 

She cantered a lot, and when she settled down, we did the exercise the farrier had given us, where I had Lily walk and trot in a tiny circle around me while stepping out sideways with her hind legs.

I then took her to her stall and tacked up. She was much calmer about the whole thing than she'd been the day before, and munched on her hay cubes while I got her ready. I decided to ride her in the baucher bit, which I'd set up on Rhythm's old dressage bridle 2 weeks before. My baucher is a French link, and I put the Rein-Aid attachments on it for a little extra give.

Lily gave me another really good ride. She chose to work in a Training Level/hunter type frame, and I let her, but worked on trying to keep her withers up while doing so so she wouldn't be on the forehand. I *think* I got her working correctly, but have no idea, really-before when working long and low, we've had moments where I thought we were working correctly, and then in photographs it turned out we were on the forehand the entire time...

She came up a few times above the bit, and then we worked on bringing her nose back down. If I picked up my inside rein and lifted my hand a few inches, she responded by bringing her head in and softening. We did walk/trot/canter, and I was so happy with her overall state of mind that I decided to take her on a trail ride. For this, however, I had to change her bridle. The tractor was in my barn aisle, so on a whim, I put Lily in Jez's stall in the aisle next door, removed the dressage bridle, then ran to my locker where I pulled out the bridle with the mullen mouth pelham. Back in Jezebel's stall, Lily had taken a big bite of hay and was quite relaxed and contented. It worked: placing her in her friend's stall for a minute, vs her own stall, resulted in a calm mare. I put the other bridle on, and we walked out to the trail head.

Lily balked for a second when I pointed her at the trail, but the rest of the way was mostly smooth sailing. I had her cross the main bridge, go up the road and take the trail we've taken most recently with Tina in reverse. We had a moment where she tried to turn around a couple of times in response to the sound of construction vehicles over the hill, but once we were in the woods, she relaxed. We made it all the way to the first creek crossing, which she took with only a slight hesitation. After that, I had her loop around and we returned the way we had come. She didn't even think about it as we came upon the creek again. In fact, she was so relaxed that I took this photo as we approached to cross:

Tiny but muddy creek crossing. She owned it!!
She had her really nice oscillating walk all the way home, and didn't try to trot or do airs above ground even once. She totally earned her hay cubes, which I let her finish while standing out in the sun. 

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