Friday, April 8, 2011

Out of Gas and Drifter Pictures

Yesterday, I managed to ride Dawn and Drifter.  The weather wasn't great - we were supposed to get into the low 50sF but only made it into the low 40s, with a sharp wind and no sun - the wind chills were in the 30s.  I almost didn't ride but sucked it up and rode.  Dawn was hyper-alert and very up - no wonder considering the conditions.  We did more figure work, mostly at the walk.  She was very compliant, but on edge the whole time.

Drifter and I got in a good work session.  For once, he really needed to tear around the arena first to blow off some steam.  There were lots of distractions - strollers, children, Canada geese in the community garden next to the arena (!), the goat receiving visitors, and even a car alarm (!!).  And it was cold and windy.  He was pretty tense and spooky, but managed to settle well enough to do some good work on his halting, speed regulation at the walk and straightness and steering.  His halt is also much improved - no bracing at all.  After I untacked, we stood in the parking lot for a while until the other horses came in - he coped with the others galloping up and milling around in the pastures before bring-in time.  And there are a few pictures - see below . . .

Pie and Fritz, who were the last two geldings to come in, got in a kicking fight just before they came in.  Fritz is a (soft) alpha and I think Pie is making some moves on him.  Pie had gotten into the corner by the gate - some of our pastures are badly designed and have the gates in corners nearest the barn - a recipe for bad things to happen - and Fritz backed into him and started kicking.  Pie kicked back, but luckily no serious injuries, just some hoofprints on butts.

I was out of gas and didn't manage to ride Pie.  I may try to get in a ride on him this afternoon if the rain we had overnight eases off -  Dawn and Drifter are getting the day off because the arena is a soupy mess.

But I did manage to get a few pictures of me riding Drifter - they were taken by our p.m. barn lady with her cell phone, and it was pretty dingy out so they're blurry, but they give a general idea of what we've been up to.  The more I ride Drifter and the more I watch him move at liberty, the more I'm liking how he's built and how he's using himself, even as out of shape as he is.  He's pretty much completely given up pulling on the bit at the walk, in turns and in the walk/halt transitions - I've made sure he's got a soft zero pressure place to be and also have made sure never to give him a release on a brace.  I look like the Michelin man - I've got many layers on.

Here we are standing on a loose rein for a moment - he does stand well, even when nervous:

Here we're making a turn to allow him to self-regulate his pace - notice that I'm purposely not putting any pressure on the outside rein:

Here's a more relaxed turn around a cone:

Completing a turn - I like how he's stepping under with the inside hind leg:

I love his expression, straightness and overall look here - and note one of my habitual unevennesses - I tend to put my right heel down farther than the left one, and it also looks as though my stirrups are a hair uneven, although I appear to be sitting straight and my knees are even - I'll switch those stirrups today.

We'll try to get some more photos soon with a real camera.

When Drifter went into the barn, I had the p.m. barn lady lead him in.  On the first time into the stall, he stopped and she circled him, and he went in.  She led him back outside and back in again and he went right in without a problem.  Good Drifter!


  1. Looks like good progress! And that step up and under around the cone is great! I have a question that Im not sure you addressed or not - what saddle are you using on Drifter? Is he an easier fit?

  2. paint horse milo - the saddle is a Kieffer dressage saddle (Lech Proli model) that I've had for years - it fit Lily, who was broad and very round, just like Drifter. It may or may not fit him after he sheds a little (ahem) "flab", but we'll have to see. Pie has a little more filling out to do, and then I'm going to see about having an About the Horse Black Rhino made for them in cordura so it's very lightweight.

  3. I meant Lech Profi, not Proli.

  4. Looks awfully cold to me!...But by the looks of it progress is being made!

  5. He looks good! Although it's hard to tell from still pictures, I like the way he moves.

    I'm jealous, my riding ring is still wet, the pasture is underwater and I can't get a clear day to do anything. That has to change.

  6. Good pictures. He's a cute guy and coming around to your way of doing things quickly. Smart boy.

    With the cold and wind and distractions it's amazing you got anything done with Dawn or Drifter. Good for you for sucking it up.

  7. i have that uneven heel thing too but it's not the stirrups - my legs are different lengths. thanks for sharing the pictures. he looks lovely. although your community sounds challenging, i think drifter will adapt and realize how lucky he is to be there. especially when he's no longer separated.

  8. Kate. Great header shot! Our weather has been just like yours. The weatherman has not nailed it for a couple of days. Today it was supposed to be 55 and it sure isn't. I'm freezin'. Drifter...good boy for going into his stall so well.

  9. Good barn lady!! She seems to have the concept down right and, in the process, Drifter's respect. Well done.

    Drifter does look good. He looks like a good fit for you as well. He certainly does seem attentive in his work and it's obvious you are making a lot of progress in a short time. Nice job.

  10. Kate, Very nice photos in this and recent posts! Your progress with all three horses seems to be going really well. Love the header photo of sleepy Dawn and all that hay!

  11. Good Drifter! It's great to see some recent photos of him, especially of you riding. But I think you're too hard on yourself. I think you and Drifter look just fine in those photos.


  12. Ditto on other's comments.
    You said Drifter needed to tear around the arena. Did he? With you on top or loose? Or, did he need to, but didn't get to? I love to watch my horses try to decide whether to go off on a wild tear, or hold themselves in check. I can almost see them thinking about it!

  13. Somehow being on a horse makes the ugly weather inconsequential. Except when it's pouring rain- that's sheer misery no matter what! Nice that your horses are being responsive even with multi distractions.


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