Rode Z in the arena, ppl at the trot, some cantering, and in the front pasture. Figure 8's at the trot and canter. Ponied Rain around the front.
Then, rode Rain around and worked on her softness in the rope hack. I forgot how talented and awesome that horse is to ride. Loved riding her around. She's quite fat, so I want to start putting more miles on her.
Building up communication from Zone 5! That's the name of the game now and I'm ready to start focusing on Level 4. Deb and I sat down with the self-assessment checklist and decided to get started on playing with the level 4 list.
We started with stick to me and Gem was really responsive! I started in zone 3 and tried to move back to zone 5. I taught him to follow my feel and focus and turn when I turned. He really learned quickly and he seemed to enjoy the puzzle of figuring out what I was asking for. What a blast!
We then did the flank rope and Gem did lots of bucking. OK - looks like we have to work on this one. He did start to feel comfortable with the flank rope and we found a good place to quit. However, we need several more sessions of this.
We practiced with bridleless riding in the arena. The more I ride him, the more we build up the feel and prepare for bridleless. He actually felt pretty good about my body for direction and I think I could work up to freestyle L4 pretty quickly. I trust him more than ever and that's the hardest part about liberty in my opinion.
Then, rode Z with the Barefoot just around the playground. Shimmed the Barefoot (Thanks to Christy Hawes for the suggestion!). Definitely put me in a more secure spot. I like the saddle, just need to get more used to it.
Just did the advanced 2-day this year. It was the perfect amount of Parelli time for where I am in my journey. Dave Ellis has a tremendous way of remotivating me and my Parelli passion was burning strong again at the end.
I did a private lesson with Jodi and she threw a lot of nits at me to work on. Tweaks are a good thing at this point - easy to tweak things and nice to be beyond the huge changes I've needed. We worked on my seat position (hands clasped over my head), strong core and more rigid core, legs further back. We worked on my timing with the hinds (I've finally got it consistently!!). We worked on go and whoa responsiveness (surprise Gem, don't nag). Gem is quite uptight underneath his confidence demeanor. She rode him a few minutes and noticed right away. However, he was trying his heart out and did everything to his best ability.
Gem was awesome and I was very proud of him!
At one point, I caught him thinking to buck. For the first time, I recognized it as he was considering it and I was able to ask him to reconnect with me and let the bucking idea go. He responded and it was over. I actually stopped the buck before the buck. This is huge for Gem and me.
Groundwork was amazing, need to continue developing zone 5 work. He was extremely responsive all the time and gave good try every moment.
Very forward trot while riding!! Dressage work is paying off. We did 1-rein riding at all gaits was a blast. I worked on getting in time with the hind feet to bring the hind over.
Big moment for me: Never apply pressure to resistance. My BFO for this clinic.
A fantastic ride on Z at Highline Canal for 14 miles with Melissa and Kholo! Rode in my Barefoot and I dare say I'm starting to like it. Z felt great - she's ready for the Happy Jack. Kholo has great endurance - we're going to have a blast.
Came home and hopped on Starlet briefly and helped Chrissy get through a short riding session with her horse Cowboy. She hasn't ridden him in months, so I was glad she hopped on. She didn't seem very scared at first but she had a hard time getting him to go along with her ideas at first. Starlet felt nice and we trotted a little until it started to rain.
Had a great 7.5 mile trail ride on Gem with Deb at Hidden Mesa this morning. Gem was responsive and light and we got some good conditioning in with a trot pace for lots of the trail. He never once got silly or obstinate and we had some very nice canter departs. Fun ride!!
Mosquitos, bush-wacking, cars, strollers, bikes, walkers, water crossings, huge cement blocks... this is the stuff dreams are made of.
A whole lotta laughing with Melissa as we rode Sand Creek Regional Park. There was construction so we had to go "off-trail" and loop our way back. The off-trail was not really meant for horses. We had to get off a couple times, for safety's sake, and let the horses make their way w/o us.
We managed to get 8.5 miles in and got some serious obstacle training done with our horses! It wasn't the distance ride we wanted, but it was fun!
Worked on using my inside leg to help him stay balanced in the canter around turns, especially to the left where he struggles to stay balanced. I'm sure this is in large part to his left hock weakness.
Then turning, turning, turning! Turning precisely and from behind. I did lots of sitting the trot while working on turns.
We are getting longer and longer moments of natural collection without ever forcing collection. The turns and asking him to move with energy makes it easier for him to drop his nose without me asking. When he does, I take up the slack and maintain the connection.
We did lots of canter work and asking him to maintain the canter through the turn while staying balanced. Right now, I'm micro-managing in the canter. As he gains fitness and understanding, I expect that to change. The trot is also getting much more rhythmic.
I tend to lose contact when I change my leg position. I need to work on maintaining contact regardless - steadier hands.
The whole family loaded up and wen to Cherry Creek Resovoir today. We entered at the dog park, which was fun! Z is so used to dogs, she has no issue but I love the dogs reaction to my horse. The kids brought their bikes and were going to ride along with Z and me. They had fun. Z was nervous about going too far down the trail, so I played with her "go" about 2 miles in. It wasn't a great conditioning ride - more of a training ride. We haven't done a lot of trail riding alone these days, so we need to rebuild some confidence.
Only went about 4 miles, but enjoyed the time watching the kids bike and seeing the dogs.
Melissa came down for a day with her horse and I coached her on seat position, improving her hands with bit communication and canter departs. We rode around the front pasture and I chose Gem to help me coach. After some time practicing some new things, we decided to go ride out a little. Gem was doing great and I was calling out transitions on the trail for us (w/t/c). After a couple hours on the horses, we were coming back to the barn and I asked for a canter transition up a hill and Gem bucked! I thought about why he would do that and I couldn't help but think it was pain related. I'd asked for so many transitions and we'd gone up and down hills for a couple hours. It was mild and we rode around a bit so that he wouldn't think he had changed my plan. However, I was perplexed.
Melissa's daughter and Kendall also rode on Rain for a bit. Kendall showed off her ability to jump Rain around and she seemed so happy. Summer rode Rain a bit, too.
First, I took a short ride on Z around the property using the Barefoot. This saddle is interesting and it's a lot like riding bareback with stirrups. It doesn't balance you or keep you on, you have to do that yourself. However, it's so comfortable! Z also seems to like it.
Then, Gem, Z and Rio loaded up to see Dr. Wagner. Gem turned out to have a nice report of balance with some tightness associated with his left hock weakness. He's perfectly sound and the dr. decided that anything she'd do would potentially impact the balance he's created for himself.
Z, on the other hand, needed help. She was out of balance and the dr. felt strongly about her poll being locked up. She also tested positive for stomach. Her frogs were very out of balance (each measured at least a qtr. inch different than the others). Apparently, when she's more balanced, her frogs will measure equally. She seemed to enjoy the acupuncture and treatment. I'll be watching to see if she improves.
Kris trimmed Rain and Cowboy. I got Kholo's hinds done. I trimmed one of Rain's fronts and Kris and I compared notes.
I also rode Kholo and practiced isolation of the ends. This seems new to him, but he was beginning to understand the ask.
I had only a little time after the rain and before dark, so I hopped on Gem for a quick ride in the arena. We played with leg yields on and off the rail and extended trot/medium trot transitions. He is so forward lately. Love riding him. Used the Barefoot to see how it felt with him. Much nicer to ride that saddle on a horse with less movement. I have to try it again on Z - she is just such a huge mover!
I also trimmed Gem. Need to trim Kholo's hinds and Rain.
I had a fantastic time in our dressage lesson today!! Gem was forward and so, so willing. He gave me everything I asked for. We cantered a lot, where in the past he would fall out of the canter while we worked. He's getting the idea that when we do dressage, it's time to show off his stuff.
I'm now using spurs that are just simple knobs. With my dress boots, I can't wrap my leg around him like I used to and I needed spurs to help keep the communication. What I'm finding is that he takes no offense to them and our communication is more clear. Today, Gem felt proud. He moved like a proud horse and he was covering ground with a bigger stride.
We worked on leg yields on and off the rail in the canter and the trot. We played with big trot on the long rail and slower, sitting trot on the short. We worked on his balance and me helping him understand my ask and stay upright.
Gem is becoming more powerful and I'm learning to stay with him through each moment. I'm really loving dressage!