The Trainer was out with the flu on Monday, so after a trip to the Bony Pony I kicked off last week with another bareback pad ride, this time with a good amount of cantering! Big Horse was very looky even after a lunge, so I had to sit a couple of tiny spooks before he settled down and we got to work on our simple lead changes, serpentine patterns, and halt transitions.
Tuesday the Trainer was back (though not necessarily 100% functional), so I gave her a preview of the improvements to Ezhno’s canter and she praised his balance, but coached me on keeping my hand closed more to bring his head down. We fought over that for a bit and then worked on our simple lead changes before we called it a day. Then I put Ezhno outside (he didn’t seem to enjoy it, it was very cold and icy out and he just lingered by the gate until I came back for him) while I watched a couple of lessons and spent some time cleaning my tack.
The Trainer was feeling well enough to teach on Wednesday, so we had our first official lesson since our hiatus. It was back to the fight over getting in the bridle at the canter. The Trainer made a point to keep reminding me to use my core strength instead of my arms to prevent him from yanking me off balance. We ended the lesson with minor improvements and a goal setting session. The Trainer also made an unusual recommendation…
So on Thursday I yanked the spurs off of my boots and rode without them! I went out armed with a bareback pad and a dressage whip, then spent some time reacquainting him with the idea of respecting my calf. He was very brutish at first—it reminded me of the time I rode him in a halter. BUT, on the other hand, his canter transitions were a lot quieter and he seemed to get less frazzled overall, so I consider that a win.
Friday was a long ride (an hour and a half). I rode in the dressage saddle for some extra leg length, but I stuck with the dressage whip instead of the spurs. He was sort of sluggish and gave me a nasty buck when I forced a canter transition out of him, but he got over it. His left lead canter shaped up quickly but his right lead was a major battle. On top of his sassy attitude, the arena was ridiculously busy (two complete beginners in a lesson, a second lesson with an intermediate rider, plus Trainer A and a haul in riding together) and we had a pipe burst near the hot water tank up in the loft, which means they were shoveling water down to prevent flooding. It took forever, but I finally got around ten strides of a good right lead canter, then praised and let him be completely done.
We kicked off Saturday morning by testing out a couple of western saddles that a barn acquaintance has for sale. One of them didn’t fit Ez and the other was super uncomfortable for me, so we switched out to our new Best Friend Bareback Pad for its inaugural ride. It was very comfortable, just the right amount of sticky, and it didn’t slide back while I rode—plus the girth’s buckles didn’t interfere with my leg and I got some really great cantering out of him with it!
We took Sunday off so that I could spend time with friends (and play another round of Dungeons & Dragons). 🙂