Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Red and Pie Don't Care About Making Hay

Well they do, really - hay is important stuff and very good.  But they said they don't care about the equipment and noise and people that go with making hay in the field next to the closest pasture . . .

Dawn and I had a very nice 25 minute walking ride this morning.  After our first few laps on a relatively loose rein, we work.  I work on my position - eyes and chin up, shoulders up and back as best I can do, and moving with the horse through my hips and back and giving a nice, steady, allowing contact with my hands.  I find that all I have to do to get her to soften, relax her head and neck and step under herself well is just engage my core and focus up and where I want us to go, while offering a nice soft, steady spot for her to relax into with my hands.  She'll have a day off tomorrow, then we'll move up to 30 minutes of walk work for a day or two and then try a bit of trot.  Her left hind is looking better every day - I think our light work has been good for her healing.

Pie had three hours of grazing this morning, and his feet seem to be doing fine.  I think he'll be out on full day grazing pretty soon, with us adding 30 minutes a day for a couple of days and then an hour a day for a few more.  I think that'll be our regular routine from now on - no point in playing around with laminitis risk - if the horses go onto pasture on June 1, he'll spend the month of June in a paddock and then slowly come back onto the grass in July.

Red and I had a pretty vigorous work session this afternoon.  We worked on his maintaining forward at the trot - I use a secondary cue with my dressage whip much as I did with Pie - and on his maintaining the canter until I ask him to come back down to trot.  His walk/canter transitions remain excellent - now we're working on a better trot/canter transition.  At one point he broke to trot from canter before I asked, I tapped him to ask for canter again - he took the wrong lead and then he did a huge buck/leap flying lead change into the correct lead.

After our work session, we went for a pasture walk.  There was a lot of hay making equipment in the hay field next to the pasture - empty hay wagons, tractors, trucks, people, and while Red and I were riding, even a winnowing machine marching around fluffing up the mowed hay.  Red was alert and interested but was very, very good.  From the moment he started looking we went right into some work exercises - circles and serpentines at sitting trot.  He couldn't have been better, and I praised him immensely.

I finally got to ride Pie - the swelling on his face, while still there, is much less and the bridle wasn't too uncomfortable for him to wear.  But we only walked and I didn't ask him for a lot with his head and neck, figuring that things were still a bit sore.  We did a bit of nice loose rein walk work in the indoor first - his walk felt marvelously free and engaged - what a pleasure he is to ride now - and then went out to the pasture - I wanted to have him work around the haying equipment.  He was also marvelous - he noticed the equipment, but the moment he did, I didn't leave him to his own devices but started asking him for circles and serpentines at the walk.  Pretty soon, we were working right along the fenceline where all the equipment was, and he didn't blink an eye, even at the people crawling over and under a tractor that was having some sort of problem.  I think this is the way to preempt his spookiness - if I'm not just blopping along on a loose rein, where he doesn't really know I'm there, but rather actively ride and maintain the connection while we do something together, the spookiness isn't really an issue.  Neither Red nor Pie at this point are the type of horse you can just blop along on, and that's fine with me - I just have to remember to "be there" for them so they can connect with me and borrow my confidence when they might be uncertain.

After I rode Pie, I iced his face for a bit while he ate hay - he really wasn't that interested in the ice, which probably meant he felt he didn't need it anymore, so I didn't do it for long.

It was a good test to ride the boys out by themselves past all that equipment - particularly a good test of me and how I offer them guidance and direction to preempt spookiness, and I was very proud of all my wonderful horses today.


  1. We currently have roadwork going on out front. I am with you about schooling opportunities. Wish I could do the work but was content with turning some out near all that stuff.

  2. BTW, if I haven't mentioned this before, I am so with you on deleting comments that are for marketing purposed. That's why use comment moderation.

  3. In Horsemanship Through Life, Mark talks about riding your horse all of the time and he meant exactly what you are talking about with both Red and Pie. It's easy to get distracted and start thinking about other stuff instead of being present and paying attention.

    Glad Pie is doing better.

  4. Sounds like another great day with your horses! Great to hear that you had good rides out near all the haying equipment. All of those good experiences add up over time.

  5. I am full of admiration for your dedication to your equine family Kate. I don't know how you manage to look after and work with three in the way you do every day. Hope Pie's recovery keeps on going well.

  6. Glad Pie's swelling is improving, my goodness that picture of the swelling was quite something!


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