Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dawn and I Square the Circle and Take a Little Trail Ride

It was a busy horse day - the best kind - I took my truck and trailer for their (overdue) 6-month safety inspection and our fencing guy was there all day replacing posts and bad boards in preparation for us going to dry lot tomorrow.  Round bales were delivered - they look really nice and I always feel grateful for our excellent local hay supplier.  In addition to my Pie ride this morning, Dawn and I had a really nice work session this afternoon.  She'd done plenty of running and playing in turnout this morning, so perhaps that helped.  The temperature was falling into the upper 40s and the wind was picking up as we got ready to ride.  I rode her bareback with the snaffle.

We worked on an exercise I call "squaring the circle".  There are innumerable variants of this, and you can really use your imagination.  I set four cones in the arena in a square with about 20 meter sides.  The main idea is to trot, softly and at an appropriate pace, between two of the cones, then transition to the walk at the cone (and usually do something at the cone, like go in a complete small circle around it) and then transition softly to the trot and go to the next cone, and so on.  It's a great way to work on precision, softness and focus all at once and most horses like it once they catch on - it's sort of like a game.  Dawn was really enjoying it and doing her best to do it really well.

We started out with trotting to the outside of the next cone, then walking a 180 degree circle to the inside around the cone, then trotting to the next cone, etc.  After doing that for a while in both directions - Dawn was really nailing the transitions, staying soft through them both up and down just on my breathing out and thinking the new rhythm - we started doing different patterns - crossing the diagonal, varying the direction of our circles, doing half circles, and finally ending up just riding between the cones on the outside, walking around the turn, then trotting, etc. - squaring the circle.  It was just great, she didn't get excited and stayed lovely, attentive and soft.

Then, since things were going so well, we went on a tiny trail ride - just a couple of hundred yards away from the barn, up the hill by the farm and back down the other side.  This is the farthest Dawn and I have gone on the trail.  She strode out with purpose on a loose rein and seemed to really enjoy it.  I did keep a pinch of mane just in case of a spook, but the only startle she did was one where her feet didn't move.  We finished off with a lovely soft trot up the grassy slope behind the barn.  Fabulous Dawn!

And I just got off the phone with Mike Fragale, our excellent dentist - he'll be coming to do Pie on December 1 even though our other horses aren't due until late spring.  This is very good news, as he is extremely busy, travels all over the country and is sometimes difficult to reach.


  1. Sounds like you, Dawn and Pie had a fantastic day Kate. What a fun exercise - we'll be trying that one soon :)

  2. You and those ponies are really cookin.'

  3. Oh what a great exercise! I think this is something I can do on lunge or long line while I'm on my riding hiatus...

  4. Finally got my internet to work well enough to read your blog; I'm happy that all your expectations for Pie are being met; that's a product of how thorough and selective you were in your horse search. Happy trails!

  5. Good exercise with Dawn. I'm glad she enjoyed it, as that makes a big difference in the learning curve.

    And that's a big step to take her out bareback on the trail. Nicely done, brave one. *S*

  6. What a great exercise, it sounds like something you could use at liberty as well as under saddle.

    Hope Pie enjoys the dentist, will be interesting to hear the verdict next month :)

  7. It's really great having a purpose when riding. It helps rider and horse stay focused and it's fun, too.
    Sounds like a pleasant ride with Dawn.
    And I'm happy that your equine dentist is able to see Pie. :)



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