Monday, March 15, 2010

First Weekend of Work

Well, it's Monday, and if I had to say how Pia is doing, its "great."  She's eating, drinking, snuggling, and all those things that generally point to a happy horse... so I'm happy.  Friday I went out to the barn to do some ground work and if she was happy and willing, to ride for a bit.  Everyone at the barn is still oohing and aaahing over her, which is fun for me, and cute for her.  Lots of pats and attention so I can't help but think that she's getting comfortable at Eremon.  She did manage to DEVOUR her Likit in the first night, and while I have refills, I can't help but think if I replaced the 2 mini likits and 1 big likit as fast as she hoovers them down, that I would a) be poor, and b) be dealing with a horse on a constant sugar high...

SO, Miss P has to wait at least another week before she gets to nose around with a new Likit.  No real reason behind the "ration time," but a week sounds reasonable to me.

Anyway, Pia was little-miss-manners on the ground, so I tacked up, and got ready for our first ride at Eremon- and our first real evaluation of where she's at, where I'm at, and what we should be focusing on first.  Of course, before we even got started I went to adjust her bridle and literally tore it in two.  like, in half. not really sure what happened... one of the cheekpieces just decided to be in two pieces instead of one.  Thankfully Pia didn't seem to mind that her bit just dropped out of her mouth and smacked her in the face. she just stood there, scoping out all the scary jumps and poles in the ring.

We found a quick replacement, threw it on her, and decided that even though her noseband was about 2" too large, that we'd just go with it.  This proved to really not be a big deal since P doesn't really care about opening her mouth or crossing her jaw when she's working... but she did look sort of stupid.

We worked for about 40min, mostly at the walk, with a little trotwork thrown in at the end.  One thing I noticed is that she seems to warm up a little "off" on the lunge, which made me pause and make sure she wasn't actually lame, but I think it's because she was just so stiff.. once her back started moving, she looked perfectly even to me, but I didn't want to push it, just in case there was a little soreness someplace. (from the trailer, or ridiculous stall kicking, or turnout.. who knows).

Once I was on, Pia was a gem. We walked around ears forward and snorting at everything in the ring, generally being affable to the idea of "working."  However, once we took up contact and asked for some push, she made it very clear, that while she'd gladly listen, her favorite form of evasion is currently sucking her face down into her chest and curling so far behind the bit that she doesn't have to use her back or butt at all.  Not the biggest issue in the world, but it is something that needs to get fixed before we move on to anything else.  SO, we spent the entire ride pushing her forward and lifting her up.  Lots of driving with the seat and attempting to follow with contact to as to encourage her down-and-out, instead of just up-and-back.  I think it's a baby thing, and that she's so big and muscled, that she can support herself that way, but I don't want her to get in the habit of running around with a swan neck curled all tight.

She's a smart girl, so she got the new concept pretty quickly, but wasn't able to really use her back, or maintain the vertical for much more than a stride or two at once.  I was thrilled that she was even adjsuting to what I was asking for, so we took the small steps as massive improvement and called it day.

(I have video of our trot work, but youtube is being a pain and won't complete the upload.  so I'll get it in here soon since it shows her "moments" of accepting the bit and pushing forward along with my silly looking saddle-seat hands that do actually seem to help lift her up, and our totally inconsistent rhythm since I'm trying to simultaneous push her forward and lift her up and I don't think she totally understood what the question was... long story short... video will go here soon)

I suggest muting it... I haven't figured out how to get rid of the sound yet, but I'm pretty sure its not great :)

Saturday was a repeat performance and P already showed some serious improvement.  She even had to work with a couple lessons going on in the ring, but did a pretty good job of maintaining focus. There were a few baby moments with small bucks and little hops, but for the most part, she relaxed and pushed herself forward.  By the end of our session we were working on moving out and opening her stride, then balancing up through the corners.  (!).

Since we snapped our bridle on Friday, Dad was excited to join me on a trip to the tack store to contribute a replacement.  We poured through the (reasonably priced) options and came out with the new Thinline snaffle bridle, which so far I LOVE.  The squishy padding on the noseband and over the poll seem great for the horse, and the squishy/sticky reins seem great for me (the girl who ALWAYS needs to shorten them).  Plus its a great looking piece of tack, and it looks lovely on P's pretty face.

Sunday, we did more groundwork, showed off to more friends, and had a quick 30min hack to loosen up and keep with the lift-lift-lift, theme of the week. I think we rounded out the weekend with a good sense of where we strand and what our initial goals are going to be.


1) Get Pia's face at least vertical, if not slightly in front of it.
2) Soften to the right, increase flexibility.
3) Establish regular rhythm at the trot.

Things we already have working in our favor:
1) she's FORWARD! no nudging here
2) big loose walk
3) super soft mouth (total lack of tension in her neck and poll)
4) lateral movement (she already moves away from my leg when I ask)

I'm giving ourselves the rest of the month to really get a sense of each other, and come up with specific measures for continuing goals into April.  So far though, I'm really pleased with how quickly P is responding and picking up on new concepts.  

Today, P is in Sabrina's hands for a ride, lesson Tuesday, ride wed, lesson Thursday, Sabrina gets her again on Friday, light hack sat, and a day off Sunday! WHEW.  What a week.  Can't wait to see what it brings! (or to get my stupid videos up.... grr)

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