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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Charles's Riding Lesson

On Monday Charles was off from work and I didn't have to go in until 4:00 pm, so I asked Charles if he wanted to help me do hill sets with the girls. There were multiple reasons for this:

1. Give Gracie her first formal hill workout.
2. Ride Lily a 3rd time. She had had Saturday off when Kathy and I went to Little Bennett. I like to get 3 rides on her a week.
3. Check Lily's fitness on hills. We hadn't done any kind of hill sprints in almost 2 months, since before starting her taper prior to the endurance ride that wasn't.
4. Working on the hill side by side would allow me to see what Charles is doing with his form, correct him, and demonstrate if necessary.
5. Evaluate Gracie's fitness on hills.

We arrived at the barn early, grabbed the mares and tacked up. This was Charles's first time riding on the bridle path. We walked all the way up the hill and back down once, then trotted up and walked down twice to warm up. We then started the official canter sets: we would canter up the hill and alternately walk and trot down.

It was a great exercise. I was able to correct Charles's posture while riding next to him and after a few minor corrections (he has a tendency to slouch a bit and let his shoulders creep up towards his ears) he had Gracie gaiting 100% of the time when Lily and I were trotting. Once he was getting results, the corrections in his position stuck. He's a good student. We'd then canter up the hill side-by-side, which also allowed me to check what he was doing. He was trying to do a sort of two-point but his leg is not strong enough nor solid enough to be able to stabilize him while attempting this, which inevitably meant that he was bouncing in the saddle. Not a lot, but enough that if Gracie had accelerated he would have had a hard time staying with her. Gracie has the smoothest canter I've ever ridden: it's actually better if you sit back on her. Once he relaxed and sat, he realized how easy to ride her canter is. I wish I'd gotten a video!

We cantered up the hill 6 times, walked down 3 times and trotted down 3 times (alternating). We then walked up and down once to cool off the mares.

Lily's respiratory rate never went up during this exercise. I'm amazed at how well she's retained her fitness. Gracie however was still breathing fast by the time we got back to the barn so she was handwalked a little longer and she had first dibs on getting hosed off. Her respiratory rate returned to normal while handwalking.

Lily was bathed after Gracie and both were tied to the arena fence side by side so they could have their beet pulp mashes. They both had their electrolyte syringes too. The mares are hilarious in their reactions. I mix a serving of the electrolyte powder (I use Perfect Balance) with a tablespoon of molasses to form a paste, then make a parfait inside a 60 ml syringe, alternating applesauce with the electrolyte/molasses paste. Gracie loves the applesauce and will lick the syringe for it, but as soon as she reaches the electrolyte paste, she starts making horrendous faces and sticking her tongue out. Lily is lackadaisical about applesauce and also hates the electrolyte paste (believe me, the paste with molasses is an improvement over just the plain powder! And they still hate it. They won't eat it mixed with their beet pulp) but after having to syringe her AbGard every day during her stall rest last year, she has become highly tolerant of being syringed stuff via syringe...as long as it's me syringing her. She's nowhere near that good when it's the vet!

They each get one syringe of this after riding. Gracie is a great drinker regardless, but Lily has been drinking much better since starting this new routine.

They were turned out in their field afterwards.

Shiny. Andrea's girls win the shine award :), but I'm happy with this.
Love the mohawk on her.
Gracie is getting very shiny too. And this was after rolling!

It was an awesome session. Charles enjoyed the outside-of-the-arena lesson format!

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