Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Recent video

Clair is such a good girl. She can have a week off, and I can hop back on her and pick up right where we left off. She very rarely tenses up or goes on the muscle. She's a thoughtful mare who seems to enjoy her job. The only real fault she has is her tendency to go low and curl behind the bit. She does it out of habit, when she gets tired, or when I ask her to focus on a more difficult movement. Last fall, clinician Suzanne advised me to use the arret to ask Clair to raise her head and open her throatlatch. I've been doing a pretty good job of using it many times during each ride. I do it as softly as I can to still get a reaction. And when she reacts, I don't care if she sticks her nose out or up. I just want her to understand that UP is good. I've also been using the Pessoa in the high, crossed position, which seems to keep her from wanting to go low. You'll see some arrets in the videos below.

My current focus is canter-walk and trot lengthening. She has a super lengthening in the pasture -- now to harness that under saddle.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New digs

I lived in Lubbock from 2004 to 2006. Except for a bit of a rainy spell during the first winter, it hardly ever rained at all. The barn I was at back then only had an outdoor arena, and it was rideable pretty much all the time (except during dust storms).

My husband and I like to joke that we brought the Willamette Valley rain with us to Lubbock when we moved here in May 2014. West Texas had been enduring a four-year drought up until the very moment we arrived. We've had oodles of rain ever since. The month of June was crazy. We had thunderstorms almost every day, with downpours of three, four, and five inches at a time. The playa lakes overflowed. Cars floated away. And, worst of all, I couldn't get to the barn!

I loved the private barn I was at. It was peaceful, and the care was excellent. The horses were out 24/7 with a run-in shed, and they loved it. It's hard to even consider moving horses when they're thriving. However, for a good chunk of the spring and practically all of June, I couldn't make it out there. The roads were either literally under water, or else they were a sticky, car-entrapping goo. Even folks with high-end four wheel drive vehicles were getting stuck.

In addition to me not being able to ride, Dakota's lovely new person R wasn't able to ride either. I really, REALLY didn't want to lose her as Dakota's lease. She's so sweet with him, and he goes so well for her. She has even cantered him under saddle a few times. My guilt about not having enough time for him was dissipating! So, reluctantly, I decided it was time to move to a new barn.

I looked at several, and settled on a nice mostly-jumping barn. It has been run by the same woman for many, many years, and it had great reviews on Facebook and Google. There's an enormous outdoor arena for flatwork, another for jumping, and a full-size indoor arena, plus hackable land nearby. The horses are out on a huge dry lot most of the day. They come in for feedings and at night. I wasn't worried at all about Dakota going into general turnout -- he's the most submissive gelding of all time -- but Clair can be the mare-iest mare of all with other horses. Luckily, she settled right in without biting or kicking anyone. She struts around like the queen of England and everyone stays out of her way. Many of the geldings have googly eyes for her.

One of the many advantages at this barn is that Clair and Dakota can't see the arena from turnout or from their stalls. So when one of them is working, the other must simply cool his or her jets. They were pretty herdbound to each other at first, but they're getting over it. I can't abide screamy herdbound horses. It's very cute how they have to check in with each other, nose to nose, whenever one of them is returned to turnout.

It's nice to be back at a barn with lots of other riders. A quiet barn has its own advantages, but I do miss the social aspects of riding. It's also good for the horses to work with others in the arena. All in all, we're pretty happy!