Tonight was a GREAT visit to the barn. I am so elated with Chewbacca, it’s not even funny! He is on a steady uphill slide of improvement over improvement. He is getting soooooooooo much more responsive to the bit, with just a little feel of the reins, he drops his head and looks for the contact at ALL THREE GAITS.
This is a massive improvement. He is carrying his head round and long and low in a great poll-flexed long hunter frame almost 100% consistently at the walk. He is improving in his walk-trot transitions ten fold. He is carrying his head very well flexed on his own about 50% of the time at the trot, and with a few very very gentle reminders he follows through with his head about 30% more of the time. So we’re getting there with the trot. His trot-canter and walk-canter transitions are getting better every day, although he sometimes get a little strung out and off balance so he cannot get his leads appropriately. A little reminder and a re-try and he fixes it himself. This I need to work on next ride, in preparation for our show on Sunday. His head set at the canter is 100% perfect, too. I have not caught him raising his head or losing the roundness at all. Even when he’s strung out, his head is still level to low, and he collects back into a LOVELY round little canter. He’s taking the strides just perfect between my ground poles, too.
And that was all in tonight’s ride- LOL!! Well, and the past few rides, all of these things have been improving every single time. I like to think it’s because I’m taking my time, building him up slowly, doing it right, and being gentle… but honestly, it’s all the horse, and I know it. Luke the Hackney Pony is a great pony that just needed a bit of a refresher, and he is the ultimate show pony now-a-days… (when he is actually shown). Again, I like to think Luke is a reflection of 4 years of correct, gentle, and consistent training, but really, it’s just pony. Same thing with Chewie, he’s just a great horse and I’m just along for the ride and privileged to be so.
So anyway, in tonight’s ride… my husband *get this*… actually CAME TO THE BARN. Which was a MAJOR help to me, because I’ve been trying to keep 3 horses consistently working 2-3 day a week and it’s getting tough. Luke had the last 7 days off because I just have not been able to dedicate enough time to working them all. Finally my husband, for the FIRST TIME, in nearly a month, came out and drove Luke. Luke, of course did exceptional, and my husband gave him a good, long work out, which was good for them both, I think. Luke looked great, and my husband did most of the driving single-handed. Ever try driving single handed? They actually call for it in upper-level driving classes. It’s really interesting seeing team hitches getting driven at the canter on a circle with 1 hand.
Anyway, so while my husband was driving Luke, I rode Chewbacca. This was Chewie’s first time being in the arena at the same time as the cart. He’s seen it plenty over the last few weeks, but he’s never been ridden along side the cart. Chewie was fine. Really all the horses at the barn are quite used to seeing Luke and Dixie driving. Another boarder rode, too, tonight, so there were 3 of us in the ring, which was REALLY NICE. I’ve been complaining since I got Chewbacca about how un-nice it is to ALWAYS ride alone. Tonight, I had company times 2.
After Luke was ready to be walked off and Chewie had cantered around and played around a little with my ground pole lines, came another first… We sort of abandoned the other rider in the arena, which I kind of feel bad about, and headed off for a brief walk down the road. I’ve also been saying I want to get Chewie out of the arena because really, I’ve owned him 6 or 7 weeks now, and have NEVER taken him on a trail ride yet.
My version of a “trail ride” is pathetic, I do realize. It’s about a 10 minute walk down and back a street. Hey, you can’t take a wood-wheeled meadowbrook cart off road. LOL. So, this was also Chewie’s very first time riding off property and taking a street-side walk. He prefers to walk in grass whenever possible and will navigate himself to any grass path he can find, so he pretty much veered off to the shoulder, which was fine. He did great. He got passed by a motorcycle, a jogger, and numerous cars. Luke is super-experienced with the roads within a 4 mile loop of the barn, he’s been on them all, so he’s the right horse to follow behind on the first trail ride.
Chewie, being over 16″ taller than Luke, had a bit of a hard time keeping pace behind Luke, so at a few points, we were either side by side or ahead. Chewie did absolutely nothing wrong. He did stop to eat grass a few times, but even though I pushed him forward, it was good to see that he was relaxed enough on the “trail” to do that. He trotted a bit for me, and did just great! He even stayed round and on the bit when I asked him.
When we came back towards the barn, the tractor was running and a few horses in the first paddock along the road started galloping around and kicking up dirt. Chewie didn’t flinch. Luke and Chewie both looked at the commotion, but neither did anything they shouldn’t have.
It was a great evening of firsts and improvements and I couldn’t be HAPPIER blogging away about how wonderful our horses are.
Dixie also got her little lard butt worked 😉
Thursday’s plan for the barn is to ride Chewie and mimic the classes we’ll be doing on Sunday. Walk, trot, canter, reverse, walk, trot, canter, line up. Pretty simple. I just want to try to get those walk-canter changes a bit better, but ulitmately, we do however we do on Sunday. I have never, in all my time showing, concerned myself about the shows I’ve gone to. I’ve never gone in to them thinking “we better get this right, or we better do this and win that…” That’s not the right attitude for a show, I think, and really, for a show like this, it’s basically just glorified practice anyway. It will be a great chance to display our current level of training against other people and get judged on it. However we do, we do. As long as we don’t have any flip-out episodes and I stay on, it’s a good show as far as I’m concerned. 🙂 I think Chewie and I will do just fine. He’s not the flip-out type of horse, or I wouldn’t have purchased him.
I can’t wait to clean him up, groom him, clip him, and braid him 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lots of pictures this weekend!!!
I cannot begin to express how nice it is to finally be able to write nothing but good things about MY horse. FINALLY. I feel so good about this horse, and so confident with him, it’s jaw-dropping. I am not sure if I just love his gentle nature all together, or the fact that I can be so SUBTLY SOFT with the contact and get a response from him, or that he’s just doing so well in every way… but it’s wonderful, whatever the finer points are.