* * * * * *
Maisie's getting back to work. I'm still not up to much riding, so on Sunday when my daughter isn't at the barn, I just went there and groomed and then did some in-hand and leading work with Maisie outside. There were horses in the big outdoor ring, so we went to the small outdoor which is adjacent and did some in-hand lateral work and also some backing. I switched bits - when my daughter rode her Saturday she was very bracy in the KK double-jointed with lozenge - and we're now using a version of this Mylar high port, although without the slots to attach the headstall and reins as we don't want the mild leverage effect. This bit is very stable - it really doesn't bend at the ends of the roller. When I put it on Maisie, she carried it well even when the headstall was still too loose, and her mouth was quiet, and stayed quiet when I moved the headstall up a couple of holes.
While we were in the small outdoor, we did some standing around just observing things - this was the first time she'd been out there and she was pretty relaxed. Then we did some backing. She wasn't really doing it correctly at first - just rushing backwards with her poll flexed, but there wasn't any real softness through her neck and back. We has to work for a while to begin to get that. I got a few nice, soft steps a couple of times and then we were done. I'm sure some of the hunter/jumper folks in the next ring thought I was crazy, but they'll get used to us and how we do our work, I expect.
Yesterday, since Maisie was staying perfectly sound, my daughter got in a good ride on her - I was there to watch. First I let her loose in the indoor to have a bit of a run - she was more energetic than she's been. We saddled her up, and after some warming up at the walk, they moved up to the trot. Maisie wanted to rush - that's her normal evasion - and my daughter worked on redirecting her energy in circles, but she was still pretty excited, even offering up dropping her shoulder to the inside, particularly to the left, and some crowhops. My daughter got off, we took the bridle off and had her self-exercise a bit more. Then back on - this time it went better - no crowhops. Maisie was pretty out of shape - lots of huffing and puffing and she got sweaty even though it was cool. They continued to work in one direction until she was able to go around a full large circle at one end of the ring without rushing. Then she got a good loose rein walking break to signal her that that's what we were looking for.
And here's what I think was the critical thing. My daughter asked her to do the same thing in the other direction, rather than stopping there. It didn't take as long, and my daughter said that Maisie was much more engaged mentally - not just rushing even when she was moving her feet too fast - and that she was listening and responding. She got the big circle with no rushing, and they were done.
It was a very good session. Being persistent enough to complete the specific work you have in mind - we wanted one big circle in each direction at an appropriate pace (the whole arena would have been too much for the first day at her level of un-fitness) - is so important. I sometimes failed to do that out of frustration in my ring work, and working on the trail really didn't do much as our maneuvering options were so limited. Being able to do consistent daily work is going to make a big difference - I think she's going to come right along and be the good riding horse I know she is, once again. My daughter's going to give her a good ride every morning except Sunday, and then I'll ride her in the afternoon. Initially, until my back is fully recovered, my daughter will have to help me tack up - I can't tighten a girth - and I'll only be able to walk, but that's OK - she can stretch and relax and we can do some lateral work and backing work. And soon, I can be reinforcing the things my daughter works on in the morning. I'm actually looking forward to riding again as I can see a way forward.
* * * * * *
The new header is Norman the pony in his last show season with my younger daughter - his show name was 14 Karat and as you can see he was a superstar. He is also enjoying his retirement in Tennessee.