Friday, March 25, 2011

Raining On A Thursday

Not just any Thursday, but Milo's Birthday Thursday. The weather teased me throughout the day, promising a beautiful sunny day in the morning, then as the clock ticked closer to the end of the work day, the rains came in and drowned out my plans for Milo.

Mom, its my birthday and its raining. Can we postpone the celebration so I can continue to hide in my shelter?
Not that the plans were elaborate by any means, all my extra cash is going towards the saddle. But I at least was going to bring him to the outdoor arena and get current conformation shots. Instead, I got stuck with these:

Hmm, turn on arena lights? Yes?

Mom, I hate to tell you but this birthday party was pretty lame...
I did give Milo a thorough grooming. Curry, curry, curry, scrape, scrape, scrape (Milo's shedding), brush, brush, brush. I even spent extra time on the hair on the underside of his fetlocks. Of course I check them over every grooming, but yesterday I really got all the dirt and mud out. I scratched all of his itchies, and stretched him all out. Milo seemed content with the extra attention.

And I couldnt help it. Lessons had just ended which left the arena open! I know, what a mean Mom to ride Milo on his birthday. But I did. I wanted to take advantage of a good riding opportunity and not save it for Friday where I know there are at least 3 lessons starting when I get there.

Two cones were left out so I was able to work on the same exercises I learned at my last lesson: arcing, and counter arcing at the walk and trot. Milo was moving nicely, and I continued to work on balacing him on the outside rein. It sure is hard for me to not creep up more with the left rein, and slack out on the right, as the left rein is the one I most dominantly want to ride off of. Milo was arcing and counter arcing nicely on the figure eight around the cones, I think in large part because Ive really been trying to stay centered with my cues, time them according to his footfalls, and bring my leg back straight, not curled.

I noticed something very important in that ride. I always thought that Milo tracking to the left was hardest, because that means he has to lean off of the right rein, not the left as he and I prefer. But in fact, as I worked him to the right, I discovered that it is easier for me to hold onto the left (outside) rein, but Milo is not bent through his body properly, and in fact has a very, very hard time traveling correctly this direction. As I would pick up the left rein, then remind him to balance off the outside with the right rein, he just did not want to actually balance off of the outside. He would hold the rein taught, but was not balancing off of it as I have felt him do nicely the other direction. I also found I still have little control over that shoulder (probably due to my position again, where I need to displace my hip by looking over my inside shoulder).

This became apparent when I was loping him this direction, then counter cantering on the same lead. He wanted to toss his head up and flail and fight against the outside rein, trying to blow his shoulder right through it. I eventually was able to get myself into a better body position which allowed him to keep his shoulder upright through the  counter canter. He definitely could not hold the counter canter for more than a half circle (correctly, at least) but what effort he could I would lope him off straight. He seemed to be a bit better on our last attempt at it, but I definitely see that this needs much more work at the slower levels and really get nit picking about him on the outside rein that direction. He did, however, lope nicely the other direction and counter cantered nicely that way as well.

Now you might notice that Milo is in his nylon halter in the last few photos. I hung up my rope halter, for however long, and have gone back to the nylon. I have always noticed when leading him the instability of the rope halter. The weight of the bull snap in conjunction with his movement, causes a somewhat pendulum swing of the lead rope, which in turn moves the halter from side to side. This had always irritated me, but after the Peggy clinic and having the halter demonstration done on myself from Sarah, I could really see the disconnect that the rope halter was creating.

So I put the nylon on, and at first was nervous on how snug it is. This was the first piece of horse tack I every bought, and I had bought it for Koalt, whose head is much smaller then Milo's. So the halter fits on Milo on the last hole. But it does fit more snug around his nose, and not tight around the poll area. It doesnt move from side to side and stays much more secure on his face. I also took my old lead rope and attached it to the right side and have even tried Peggy's "combing the line" exercise on it when leading Milo. I have honestly come to find that Milo doesnt drag behind me like usual when Im putting him back away, nor does he try and walk forward past me when I first lead him up to the barn. He tends to stay right at my shoulder with me. So for now, I will continue to use the nylon halter.

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