I realize that these next weeks and months are very precious to me, my life will change dramatically around August. I have been making decisions with this in mind when it comes to how I spend my time. Saturday was one of those good days. I made a nice breakfast and went for a morning ski with my mom and dad. It’s a wonderful way to exercise in the winter time. Much more enjoyable than going to the gym. I took my time and got to the barn around 11am. It’s not very often that I have the whole barn to myself on a late Saturday morning. The temperature was perfect — I didn’t need my long underwear or gloves. I expected there to be a few people around like a normal Saturday, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was quiet and peaceful until I plugged my iPod into the stereo, cranked up the tunes and headed outside to catch my horse.
Charmer has been a joy lately. I am not sure if she is responding to my usual carefree/relaxed attitude when I’m at the barn, or she’s just happy and content with her life.
We started by playing with circles, transitions, getting consistent and having a good bend in her body. She was great and had a good motor going.. not too lazy. Then I decided to loop the 22″ line around her belly as a flank rope while still having her halter on with the 12′ line. We played with a bulls eye type pattern. I was the middle and I tried to leave slack in the lead line and draw her in on the circle by just the flank rope. Going to the right she was amazing.. to the left she needed a little softening. That was a neat exercise.
Then I remembered something Dave Ellis did at his one of his clinics.. simulated liberty. I tied the halter around Charm’s neck and played around with some circles using the 22′ line. Wow. It was an eye opener for me. She did pretty well considering its something we never do, but she was SO heavy on the line. I can see how getting good at this type of simulation would really help propel the communication and quality of liberty. This is something I will do with her often and get good at. Yet one more place to get her soft.
Than I grabbed my bridle and horsemans reins. I think that our ground driving has gotten light enough that I felt comfortable putting a bit in her mouth. I let out my macate rein all the way so I had super long reins that put me behind her and all ready to drive. It’s like we were dancing. Smooth as silk. I asked her to collect at the trot and she dropped her head vertical. I wish I could have seen her from the side. So much fun! I think she really likes driving.
Then I saddled up and prepared to ride. I’ve been doing so much bareback riding lately that it feels weird riding in a saddle. I started out slow and warmed her up on the rail.. starting at the walk and progressing to the trot. Then I added transitions and changes of directions to the mix. This is how we usually warm up and I find it works well. She had a good pace at the trot and I could feel she wanted to canter. I leaned back a little and off she went. We then played with walk/canter transitions on the rail in both directions. Then I brought it to the middle and did simple lead changes. She loves to canter. When shes tuned into me, it’s a matter of shifting my body weight and focus.. so much fun!! Before Charm I never rode a horse like this.. it still amazes me.
I hope we can have many good rides like this one before I decide that riding like that is too risky. I’m trying to have a good attitude about it. I figure it gives us a wonderful opportunity to get amazing on the ground, improve our libery and get excellent at driving. After all, that all transfers to the saddle right? Besides, we go for all the good trail rides in the fall anyway 😉