Friday, December 3, 2010

I Really Do Have a Reiner!

Thursdays are one of my favorite days at the barn. The main instructor does not have lessons, so usually either Brittany (fellow Thunderbird Cowgirl, and instructor) and/or Kristen (former Thunderbird Cowgirl, and instructor) are giving lessons and they actually share the arena. But last night there were NO lessons when I was there!

It was cold and I was bundled in my camo Cabelas sweatshirt and a Carhartt, but forgot my gloves. Enjoying a thorough grooming with Milo helped us both warm up, and he was being a little sweetheart in the crossties (have I mentioned how much I love my horse?). I still have Sarah's saddle until tomorrow, so I was able to enjoy another ride in it. The arena only had another boarder riding and we had the radio on. The boarder's horse was having some major issues at C (the scary end of the arena) but Milo didnt pay any attention, he just focused in on me and the warm up exercises we were working on. He was ultra light in the snaffle too - I think just that one ride in the elevator bit really got him thiking about his mouth.

I had also switched out my mecate reins for 3/4" split reins. Mostly because I use the mecate's for all around work - good for cows, good for the drill team, and I like the weight on the slobber straps for sensitivity. But I do like the look and feel of a well draped leather rein. Unfortunetly, my set are only 7' 5" long, I would prefer 8' or longer, but thats an investment for another day.

After Milo was warmed up, we started on a trot circle, changing up directions frequently and really encouraging him to lift his shoulders and engage over his hocks. He was doing really well. Than another boarder came in to longe Beau - a uncoordinated goofy percheron cross. Milo stared at Beau intently, but I got him back on track again. I first asked for a lope to the left. It only took a few circles to get him really working over his back well, and ignoring Beau and the spooking Arabian. He had a nice transition down from the lope to the jog than a halt so I let him stand for a minute and get some air.

I than got him ready for a right lead departure from the trot before I asked for a walk-lope departure. He tried crazy trotting a few strides. So I stopped him, got him rebalanced and asked again. About three trot steps than a lope. His right lope still felt a little unengaged (round and lifted, but still lacking the drive from his hocks). I brought him back down after a few circles, than prepared him for a walk-lope departure. This is something Im working on getting really down pat because at the show it requires a halt-lope departure. So I rounded him up and asked. He rocked back onto his hind and had the most beautiful departure. I loped a half circle, than back on the straight asked for a stop. And Milo slid (have I said how amazing my horse is??). As I believe I have mentioned, Milo rarely slides in the indoor arena. The footing is shallow and hard underneath. But Milo must have been so round and so engaged that he didnt hesitate to put those brakes on. It was so great. So I gave him huge pats and let him stand for a while (plus this was right on the outside of the longe circle of Beau's - I was so proud of Milo for totally tuning out the other horse).

After getting some air, I let him walk out a bit. Than went to work on our spins. And last night, it just seemed to click. I put him into an arc with my inside leg the "pole" and my outside back at c, keeping his hip to the inside to keep him from popping it out and pivoting on the wrong leg. I laid the rein on his neck and after only a few forward small circle steps, he planted a foot and spun. This was the most incredible thing - he wasnt going fast, but my outside leg literally wasnt touching his side, it was just there present at c, and my rein wasnt taut, it was draped and lightly touching his neck. Even my supporting inside rein was slack. After a few amazing rotations this way I walked him back out than stopped him and gave huge praises. He licked and chewed, I patted him some more. Than asked for the other direction and he was just as amazing. So I ended there.

Im so excited for the transformation of my horse from just one lesson with Sarah at the first November show. The three exercises she gave me is increasing his body control and making everything else just so much easier for us. I cant wait to get my next lesson with her tonight. And while I hope he is great like he was yesterday so she can see, I wont be surprised if he is distracted from hauling in. Im just eladed! I love my horse!


Anonymous said...

What a good boy! That sounds like fun. I'm a big fan of split reins, too - I like the feel of them.

Amy Lou said...

I can imagine the big grin you had to have been sporting. Those are the very best rides!

Story said...

I actually ended up chopping a chunk off my split reins. I loved the longer length when they were draped, but on the occasion I had to really pick up they would actually drag on the ground (Dee can roll that long neck into the most squirrelly little ball you ever saw). Gosh it hurt to cut them but I thought we were headed for a wreck otherwise.

Thank you for your very kind comment on my blog today! Needless to say, I can't say enough now about body control. It's funny how your horse can learn all the moves, but without the body control you don't have the tools to fix things when they go wrong...for me body position on the lope departure, for you a wrong pivot foot.

How exciting when everything starts to click.