Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Live like you're never living twice

Saturday I had an 'interesting' ride. There were some groundbreaking moments, and then there were things that frustrated me to the utmost.
First, let it be said: From saturday/today's rides, Eagle is definitely going in a margingale. Running martingale, which means the breastplate which means more tack (and more buckles). Ugh, I loathe them. I've been using the standing because it's so much less of a pain but.. well, really. I can't event in it, blahblahblah. So. Pony faces a martingale again. Whoppee.

Anyway. Saturday:
The good.
Eagle cantered through poles.

Pause for emphasis.
He cantered over poles. Not just one pole, not two. Five poles spaced nine feet apart. And he cantered through them.
And, well, trotted, too. But as awesome as that is, the canter is more significant. I've never been able to canter him through poles. Going over one pole is hazardous, doing two poles to mark a stride length is a pain and cantering through poles you trot through?
Hell no.

I got on and my stirrups were ridiculously short. Mother had been in my saddle. So we had our typical mounting three minute 'moment', I got in and realized stirrups were sooo short. (five holes too high). A little girl, Sam, came in at that point so I hopped off and helped her with her horse-instead of just fixing my stirrups in the saddle-and then fixed my crap.
And got back on. The second time at the block, eagle was a rock. I was very happy about that.

Soo, random riding ensued. We were in the polo barn, and there were six of us-four girls around 15/16, Sam-who is 12(?) and me.
I feel old. So old.

Anyway, the four girls were being obnoxious. Cutting people off, riding up our asses, and passing too close. Eagle's been a bit wiggy about passing head on, so I can pretty much say it was not appreciated.
Typical Elle temper ensued after they cut right infront of Sam and her horse and then went to a walk (she was doing extended trot-work). I was pissed.

There's something to be said about riding a big horse with a (typically) adjustable stride at the trot. The girl started trotting again, and I pulled up next to her. They do it to eachother (and me) where they'll just stay right next to you and talk.
I chatted her up.
And got her caught in the corner.

"So, how's it going?" "Good? Glad to hear it. Good to see that your horse is so adept at stopping, but you might want to, you know, get your eyes checked." "Why? Oh, you must have missed it. The multiple times of passing too close, being reckless and overall, thoughtless and disrespectful to others riding."

Yeah. The sickeningly sweet voice that just drips venom is my specialty. And her horse got caught in the corner, and Eagle was rock solid. I was proud of him-sometimes he gets antsy in close proximity to other horses.

So, adolescent scolding nonwithstanding (and aforementioned girls refrained from getting in our space at that point-the 'invisible line' was drawn in the arena. They had their half. Sam and I had ours.) Eagle was a rock star.

And I started going over the trot poles both directions. He's notoriously bad at them-his head comes up, he hollows out, wiggles, or just charges/canters through them.
But, for the most part, in the span of about an hour and a half of riding, there might have been one or two moments where he tried to rush them. Otherwise, his nose came down and out and he was really reaching up and under himself. I was estatic. I don't know where that horse came from, but I love him.
Canter ensues.

(The bad).
We start to the right. I got good transitions-the key, it seems, is to sit the trot. It's a 'no, duh' moment for most people. However, Eagle's never been a horse that needed it, or so I thought. I've always just sat a step and touched and off we went. However, sitting the trot for a fourth or so of a circle before the canter transition.
He really does come up smoothly, but to the right in particular, he just disintigrates so quickly. Falls apart.
And then I half halt (hard) on the outside and the head goes FLIPFLIPFLIP.

The Amazing.
Left canter was better, we were better balanced.
However, what was really amazing was that, in both directions over poles he settled right down (no headflippy) and again, came up under himself.
He let me rebalance himself. It was amazing. I was thrilled. Very, very good.

And let me say, there was no "Ugly". Everything was very productive and work-manlike, albeit some of it was rather horrific to experience.

He's not bending well. At all. I either get his front, or his butt but I can't get all of it. The fact that he's totally ignoring my left leg doesn't help.

However, I did do a little bit of jumping. There was a small vertical that I used as my personal playground. Jumped it at an angle, straight on, jump & stop and turn around and jump again. My problem with fences is that I tend to collect him too much so he launches himself over a fence in an ugly fashion.

He was going over it fine to the left, but to the right he was just an ass. So, I went allll the way down to the other end of the arena and trotted over the poles-and kept going straight to the fence, keeping the rhythm of the trot from the poles in mind for over the fence.
It worked!

Canter transitions have been tuned. Canter in and of itself is not.
Fence debacle is working itself out, as is stopping after. I'm trying to work on getting him to not jockey me around/take off on the backsides of fences. It's super obnoxious.

But you know? We're getting there. That's really what matters. You win some and you lose some, but I can't regret my losses because really, they're teaching me more than success ever could have.


  1. Don't know if this blog is active or not (?). That head-flipping thing - before going with the martingale - standing or running - you might want to find out what's bothering the horse - could be dental, could be pain somewhere in the body (might be remedied by chiropractic), could be what you're doing with your hands. My mare came to me as a terrible head-flipper and rooter - the issue was partly dental, partly finding a bit that worked for her (she has a low palate) and partly my hands - I was moving them around too much. Good luck with your horse!

  2. Eagle was checked by a chiropractor & saddle fit was investigated. His teeth have recently been done and an equine massage therapist had only recently given him an "All clear, nothing's wrong, muscularly".

    Since this post, he has since 'grown out of' that habit. He does have a bad habit of trying to avoid contact with the bit. Contact means work and work is 'stoohpid'. He'd much rather avoid it. I'm happy to say though, that we're back riding without one!