Friday, April 6, 2012

Pie is Home, and a Great Ride on Drifter

First, the most important news - Pie is home at the new barn and seems to be settling in well.  After his two-hour trailer ride, he walked down to the barn, through the barn aisle - I doubt he's ever been inside a big barn before - through the indoor and into his paddock - he was snorty and nervous but very well behaved. Here's his sweet face:


And this photo shows how beautifully muscled up he's gotten with regular, good work - he's standing on an uphill slope here:


But the rest of the day was also very good - I was up at Heather's working with both boys.  We did a ground work session with Pie - he's got the basic ideas.  I had Heather work him first so I could watch what she did, and then I worked him.  She had me work on looking for soft moments when he was pulling to the outside so I could offer him some softness.  His right lead canter was really very nice - he struggled more on the left lead, starting out with cross canter and then having to correct with several large bucks - he was clearly frustrated by his inability to organize his legs.  We were able to get some decent left lead canter transitions by my waiting for his trot to be soft and then asking.

Then I rode Drifter.  We had a really wonderful work session.  He softened right up for me in halt and back after a few moments of resistance - much better than Wednesday. Heather had me work on getting him to give a big walk, then a bigger, even more animated walk, while offering softness, without throwing away my reins, if he stretched down but maintaining enough contact to catch him immediately and redirect him down if he inverted and went up.  The goal was to have such a big, engaged, soft walk that trot just flowed right out of it.  After several interrupted "hops" where he tried to throw his head up, invert his back and thrown himself into trot - this is a really engrained, habitual behavior with him - he did some really nice walk/trot transitions, followed immediately by a very forward, engaged, stretching down, big trot.  The trick was for me to interrupt the going up the instant it started to occur  - if possible when he was just thinging about it and hadn't done it yet. After a rest break, I got two beautiful transitions out of the huge walk into trot, and some amazing, really big trot.  Heather says his gaits are exceptional at both walk and trot (and canter is also pretty nice already - it tends to go with a good walk) - she said his free walk scores would have been very high.  His back and barrel swings, and he's learning that he doesn't have to cramp up in front and can stretch his top line.  The feel and quality of his gaits is amazing - he's starting to be everything I thought he could be.  He's beginning to figure out that there's a more comfortable, soft way to move, and is starting to give up on his habitual, braced behaviors - I couldn't be more delighted!

It was an exceptionally fine day with horses!

9 comments:

  1. Wow, Pie looks amazing! That is great he is home now. Sounds like an excellent horse day!

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  2. What a great post!! Pie looks super and Drifter "sounds" super. I am so happy to hear both boys are more than living up to your expectations.

    How's Dawn?

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    1. Jean - Dawn looked fairly mopey tonight - standing there not eating her hay. I gave her the first tube (of 10) of the EPM treatment - decoquinate plus levamisole - and she did start picking at her hay. We'll see how she does over the next few days . . .

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  3. Oops... I thought Drifter was coming back now, not Pie. Sorry!
    How fun to be able to ride Drifter, though. It was interesting to read about Heather and your efforts to have him transition without the head coming up. That was a message I heard over and over again at the driving clinic I attended. I watched Jeff Morse, the clinician, work with driver after driver on transitioning properly.
    Thanks for the information about EPM. Scary stuff!

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  4. Happy day all around sounds good to me :) Love Pie's long beautiful neck, and he does look really fit and great.

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  5. He looks great! Glad he's home and both are doing well :)

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  6. great news that both horses are going do well. I bet it is lovely having Pie home in the new barn. Hugs for Dawn. I hope she is doing ok too

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  7. So good that Pie is home and settling in to his new digs without any problems. I'm sure he'll be fine there, maybe he'll think he's still in school. Drifter is coming along great too. Nice work with him.

    Hope the meds help Dawn get back to her old self.

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  8. Pie looks fabulous!
    I hope Dawn perks up soon.

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