Yesterday morning I headed out to the barn.. thankfully properly dressed as I didn’t realize FALL had arrived early by the way…… In the frigid and windy temperatures of the morning light, I made my way to the barn.
Dixie is pastured in the first paddock, as soon as you enter the driveway, she’s usually the first one I see. She was down and rolling when I arrived… something she does often, but none the less, it is my nature to keep an eye on any horse that’s down and rolling just to assess what’s really happening. She rolled and got up and did not shake off. She lifted her hind leg 3 times as though she was kicking at her belly and she was doing a lot of tail wringing. So I thought, great.. she’s colicking. The other day I thought there was something wrong with her too – her abdomen seemed inflated, like she was bloated, and it seemed to be magically wider than it ever had been before. But on that night, she was acting perfectly normal. Yesterday she was a little down in the dumps. But I watched her and she never went down again. She passed some gas and I even drove her, figuring the walking would help jostle her intestines and help move things through. She seemed OK,if not a little lackluster, by the left the barn several hours later, but I did give her a bran mash all the same to help her pass anything that needed to come out.
After spending a little over an hour with Dixie, finally the wind started to semi-die down and with the sun out, it was a beautiful morning, although very very crisp. The high yesterday reached only 67 and when I was at the barn in the morning, it was about 57. It was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G…..
Then I got Chewbacca and tacked him up for a ride. OH MY GAWD… what a ride it was. Besides the usual too slow of a trotting pace and a lopey slow canter and killing my legs to push him forward to get him to move out, the ride was damned near PERFECT. Oh! Chewie is such a great horse. He’s super great, and I was thrilled with the ride yesterday. I didn’t want to harp on him about his head carriage, so I figured I’d just concentrate more on moving him forward at an English horse pace instead of a Western Pleasure horse pace. So, a llooooot of leg to keep him moving, which wasn’t 100% successful, but every time he switched gears, I just pressed him back up. I made it a point to take all our corners really round, too. But the other thing I wanted to do was to ride him on a very very loose rein the whole ride. I tried that a few weeks ago and I really ended up not being able to get away with keeping him on-track with a loop in the reins… the head would come up or his body would start rushing and it just wasn’t together, so I’d have to pick contact back up to get it all together again.
Yesterday’s ride, I held the reins just shy of the buckle… and he dropped his head and went searching for the contact. He pretty much kept his head consistently flexed and round the whole ride, searching for the contact. The only time I caught him picking his head up too high, I just squiggled the reins a little bit and it came right back down. He moved fairly consistently forward off my leg and kept a more or less English horse pace the whole ride, and he didn’t rush into transitions or throw his head up.
It was like magic. All of a sudden, everything I’ve been teaching him over the last 4 weeks and 12 rides or so just came together, and he was like “look ma, I can do this…!” When he got really round and was really striding out, I think he liked that a lot. I’ve said from the start one thing I’ve noticed about Chewbacca is that when he gets it right, he seems to learn from the difference between what was right and what was a little off.
I basically kept the ride down to less than 20 minutes yesterday and he didn’t even work up a sweat (of course, it was 60)… but it just such a good ride and he did everything right that there was just no point in pushing him to something new. We cantered my ground poles, laid out in 2 2-stride lines in a figure 8 pattern, and he did well with that. He’s comfortable getting 3 strides in the 2 stride lines all the time and I tried a time or two to push him forward and did get the 2 out of him. That’s the one thing that’s going to take a lot of work, I think, is getting him to make the right strides.
He can get away with loping along and putting in the add when he’s cantering over ground poles, and it might even work for X-rails, or even small verticles, but I’m thinking we’re going to get into trouble when he starts jumping 2’3-2’6″ and wants to add every time. Hopefully with time, leg – responsiveness, and strength, he’ll get more forward. I love a horse I need to push, so I’m fine with exactly how he is, but it’s the rhythm we’ve got to work on, although I think over time, he’ll naturally start to move forward when the ground poles turn into actual jumps.
When I think about it, since I’ve only had him 4 weeks and I’m starting him into something entirely new – English riding, direct reining, coming round, working forward, and working “courses” (of ground poles) he’s coming along so quickly! There have been a few rides where I wasn’t sure I was really on the right track. I don’t want to push him or force him, but I do want to see progress every time, and there have been a few rides where the progress went backwards, and now it all came together amazingly well..
If he’s anything like Luke when it comes to teaching him tricks, once he understands what’s wanted, he’s happy to do it all the time, so I think (or I hope) Chewbacca will be the same and from here on out, the head-set will be a non-issue.
I did buy him a new bit, just an eggbutt snaffle, and I’m looking forward to riding him in that and seeing how he likes it.
In the mean time, I’ve got Luke on the agenda today to be worked. I’m also researching building a vertical tack locker. My husband is a brilliantly talented person and I know he can make a tack locker for all of our things. We went to Home Depot the other night and looked at wood and talked about ideas on how to build it. So now I’m looking at plans and pictures of vertical tack lockers in the hopes of getting this project started very soon.
Any ideas on how to build a tack locker?