As always the horses were thrilled by the rain and busied themselves finding the best places to roll. Anyone driving by the farm this weekend would have thought we never groom the horses. We look like we are running a farm for muddy, furry horses. Why is it when they start shedding their winter coats they look like they have more hair than ever?? I guess it is the illusion created by the swaths of hair that are poofed out because they are barely hanging on.
On the riding front I've ridden all of my girls quite a bit the last few weeks. Sky is coming along nicely with her flatwork. She can now truly engage her hind end, lift her back and come on the bit at all three gaits pretty consistently. Her upward transitions are nice, the downward transitions still have a stride or so of lifting the head and unbalancing. Given that we started at about 20 strides of this I'm really happy. I'm starting to really work on transitions within the gates now and adding more and more lateral work. We've been incorporating a few small fences into our flatwork as well.
The only thing I don't like is that she clearly had someone teach her lead changes from the approach of run them into the corner, whip them around and throw them off balance and hopefully they will no choice but to change school of thought. If she lands from a jump on the counter lead she panics and tries to initiate this sequence of events all on her own. I'm addressing this a couple of ways. Most of the time I try to bring her down for a simple change but she is so focused on speeding up into the corner that this sometime gets ugly for a few strides. So I am also starting to introduce counter canter to her and we've managed to counter canter through the turns a couple of times fairly steadily. I am hoping she will learn pretty quickly that landing on the outside lead after a jump does not need to mean panic time.
Bonnie and Lexi are both coming along nicely as well. Lexi is so easy under saddle and naturally is very soft and quiet. She seems to enjoy it when we pop over a few jumps when we ride. The most shocking thing to me is that Bonnie and I have started to incorporate some jumps into our rides as well. A year ago I wouldn't have thought she could quietly canter a jump and continue cantering quietly AFTER the jump as well. Heck, we could hardly canter a 20 meter circle without becoming a freight train. I think she is finally growing up. She's also given me a couple of correct flying changes as well. I wasn't intending for them to happen, I was simply leg yielding into the corners and re-balancing her before bringing her down to the trot for a simple change. Twice she's beaten me to the change and just done a flying change. She'll also do a really nice counter canter through the turns if I ask her to. It is amazing to me how far she has come in a year. I actually look forward to riding her now instead of dreading it all the time. I will admit that each time I get on I still wonder "which Bonnie" I'm going to get.
Realistically I know I don't have time to ride three horses consistently on a regular basis so at some point someone is going to have to be dropped from the schedule in some way. I don't know exactly how that will happen although there are limited options. Either being a pasture ornament (I've yet to meet the horse that "needs" a job, at least the way life is on this farm for the horses), being leased or being sold. For now I prefer to live in denial and choose not to address the issue. I know Jason that this drives you crazy so no need to mention it.
Some of the boys running through the pasture yesterday - Leo, Tony, Levendi, Baby and Elfin. I wish I led such a carefree life.
Clay is a Quarter Horse and retired from the race track and then retired from the trails
Teddy is a Quarter Horse and retired from dressage. Teddy is one of those horses that practiced their mud rolling technique this weekend. He has good, even and thorough coverage and did a nice job.
I liked this picture of Chili with his reflection in the puddle. Chili is a Quarter Horse and worked cattle for a living before becoming a trail horse.
Lucky, Teddy and Clay
Sebastian didn't let the overcast skies interfere with his nap this weekend. "Sebi" is a Connemara/Irish Draught cross and did pretty much everything - fox hunter, show hunter, eventing and jumpers.
B-Rad and Alex. B-Rad is a Belgian Warmblood sired by the famous Darco and retired show jumper. Alex is a Quarter Horse and retired show hunter.
Asterik is a Holsteiner and was one of those special horses that did well in both the hunters and the jumpers on the "A" circuit. Asterik was trying this weekend, with fair success, to be a brown horse instead of a gray horse.
Silky and Lightening in the front, Trigger and Chance in the back. Silky is a large pony and showed in pony hunter equitation classes. Lightening is an Arabian and retired trail partner. Trigger is an Appendix Quarter Horse and retired show hunter. Chance is a Thoroughbred and has had many careers including being a race horse, pulling a carriage for tourists, and showing in the hunters and jumpers.
Levendi is an Oldenburg and retired show hunter
Norman is a medium pony and showed in the pony hunters. He was also a driving pony as well.
My three girls - Lexi, Sky and Bonnie
Cinnamon is a large pony and retired from the pony jumpers. Clearly Cinnamon did not work very hard at her rolling technique this weekend. Her coverage is spotty and uneven.