I enjoyed a nice time with Milo today. Last week we were working on the new bending exercise almost exclusively. The last two rides before the weekend were frustrating, for both Milo and I. So I tried to approach today's ride with new vigor and without thinking about the prior rides. I had freshed up a little bit on the Peggy work from her book Sunday night, and pulled a few more great concepts out of it (it seems even though I have finished the book, every time I peak inside I come out with more valuable information and reminders).
Mondays are a tiresome day for me. They are my only guaranteed day off from work, which means I have to pack my cleaning stalls at Sarah's and cleaning pastures at Milo's barn into one day. Not to mention that fall classes started back up last Monday just shortening the time in the already full day. Between school, cleaning, and being drenched from a downpour that lasted the entire day, I was rather tired by the time I got to share some time with my horse. Who, had been hiding in his shelter the entirety of my pasture cleaning, watching Mom slave away for his livelihood.
But I digress.
When I did get him into the shelter of the main barn, I took my time grooming his dry (and still clean under the blanket) self. His summer coat is shedding off in droves, leaving me a little sad to know the days are numbered that I can enjoy his beautifully chiseled head until the winter beard comes back.
I tacked him up and led him into the arena with my Peggy "equipment", such has become habit now. As Peggy comments in her book, groundwork shows what the horse needs on that day. I also see it as a great place to warm up and help Milo find connection on the line before trying to find any under saddle.
The groundwork went well (as has been for a while, I need to get video or something because the way Milo moves on the line compared to how he used to - Wow!) and I mounted up. Milo felt very centered and within himself and we started with the bending and serpentines as we had been the week prior. I tried to stay soft but focused, allowing Milo to supple and bend in his neck, shoulders, and withers but maintain a more sharply turned head. As the work at the walk went well, we went into the trot which was nice as well. Milo had been getting a but anticipatory for the direction changes and when going off pattern and coming back to it still didint seem to do the trick, I put in some snake trail exercises to help him oscillate at the poll and stay fluid through his body without anticipating a sharp turn coming up. It seemed to do the trick.
Throughout the ride I had been really testing direction change through seat only (that is, circles and the like - not the bending exercise) and was finding my horse was incredibly responsive to it, reminding me that I need to always try and stay as soft in my body and as focused on my hips as I encourage Milo to be all the time.
With the late time of day (school kids at the barn for lessons), and the obstacles set up in the arena, I knew I wouldnt have much (if any) opportunity to work the bending exercise at the lope. Which was fine as it turned out anyways because Milo needed some reminder to just stay focused on a circle and hold contact with the outside rein, pick up his shoulders, and find some straight. The lope work was not fantastic, but oddly enough, I was still having a good time. It made me think about how bored I might be if I had a horse that just plodded around without a personality. Some days it seems that is what I want, but other times the small challenges, the imperfections, those are what brings the smile on my face. And the moments where I knew my horse is really trying for me.
Although that feels like a good place to end, I must add that just before finishing our ride, Milo leaned out towards the rail too far and I put my outside leg on him to get him back on track. He didnt respond and ended up getting my jeans caught on something on the wall. I felt a rip and a noise and looked down to see a huge hole ripped open on my pants leg. Milo couldnt care less about what just happened and aimlessly came back off the rail. Good thing my boots are tall or else whatever snagged could have easily cut my leg. Sheesh Milo, these were new jeans too just bought a month ago! You owe me forty bucks!