Snickers had spent most of yesterday longing for his buddies in the corner of paddock from which he could see them, and, although other horses went up to him to sniff, he didn't show much interest to join them. So today that end of the paddock was fenced off and, after 10 minutes or so of introductory chasing and squealing, Snicks finally joined the others at the round bales. Very happy for that!
Snicks was very pleased to see me last night and greeted me with neighs and nickers. I decided to go for a ride in the outdoor arena as the footing was rather good (a bit wet in some corners) and it was still light. Both of us have been out of work for so long, so I kept everything short and sweet. Besides, I felt a bit awkward in the saddle and needing a good lesson. After warming up at the walk and trot, we did 20m circles, flexing to the inside at the walk and keeping a steady pace at the trot, trotted figure 8'ts and circles on a loose rein, a little leg-yielding, shoulder-in and flexing by the fence at a walk, and finally a couple of laps at the canter around a half of our huge arena. Didn't want to go around the full perimeter as it was already quite dark at that point and Snicks was very feisty at the canter, offering me to speed up all the time. Still very sensible, though!
Went to untack him in the barn, where I put him in cross-ties - something Snicks hadn't experienced for years! He took a step forwards, bumped into the halter, snorted once and that was it - stood calmly the rest of the time while I untacked and brushed him. Today, I plan to ride in the indoor arena - let's see how it goes, we haven't really ridden much in those. :)
I come to see Snickers and he's surrounded by mares! Seems that he's popular among the ladies in the new herd.
It was already dark, so we went to ride in the indoor arena. I figured that Snicks might be a tad spooky, as he doesn't have too much of an indoor experience and the lights were powered by a loud generator just outside of the arena. However, he acted as if he had been ridden indoors for all his life and wasn't even a little spooky! What a great, brave boy he is. :)
After warming up I paid great attention to flexing, stretching, rhythm and contact. Snicks continued being a champ and responded willingly to everything. We did lateral flexions along the wall of the arena, flexing to the inside of a circle, flexing to the outside and inside when going through corners, as well as some leg yielding. Snickers surprised me with agreeing to do leg yield at the trot easily - we hadn't done that before! - although he still has to learn to track up his hind legs more in this movement. Not to worry, it will come with time and training. :) Finally, we did some canter-trot-canter transitions on a large circle and, although Snicks was a bit sticky at first to raise in the canter, it went rather well. I'm writing off the stickiness to my own balance issues and hope to address them this weekend with the help of a trainer.
Watching at that last picture I posted I now want to remeasure Snicks' height! He really seems like he has grown taller since the last measurement a year and a half ago. As he is from a slow growing breed, wouldn't be too much of a surprise, but he might really be over 164cm at the withers now - I'm 162cm and he looks and feels way taller when tacking up or just standing side by side.
Last Thursday I came to the barn a bit late, so I had time only to free lunge him a little in the indoor and to do a little groundwork with stretching and flexing. After that I set him loose and proposed some work at liberty, and was very glad when he accepted my invitation. Just trotting together along the walls ended up with circling in small circles around me and doing some flexing/stretching exercises at liberty.
On Saturday I started off with trimming his front hooves. Did about half of what needed to be done and felt exhausted, so left the rest for the next day. After a moment of rest for both of us, I decided to have a ride. The outdoor was used to introduce Snicks' buddies to the herd, so I had to use the indoor. After feeling a bit unbalanced at the trot in my new saddle, I realized that I was putting too much weight in the stirrups, but I progressed when I managed to sink deeper in the seat and stop using my feet as a balancing point. Snicks was being a very good boy with our flexing and stretching routine, and we managed to do a circle at the walk with a flexion to the outside, as well as a bit leg-yielding at the trot (a huge gift from Snickers to me!!!). I am craving for some jumping, but Snicks is not fit enough for that right now, so I compensated with shortening my stirrups and working on my two-point, as well as maintaining good contact and steering in this position.
On Sunday, I started off with trimming the front hooves again. Now I managed to do most of what had to be done, although, looking at the pictures I took now, I see lots of small details I'll have to improve this weekend. I did it for 2 hours again and was so tired after that, I could barely warm up Snicks for a lesson and then trust him to my instructor (who is also a good friend). Snicks was a bit dead to her leg after the long winter break, but he improved during the lesson and started going nicely into the bridle. The instructor gave me a bit of homework/exercises to do next time I ride, so I hope to try them tomorrow evening.
As for the ride this Tuesday, I was somewhat tired after work and had troubles with concentrating to any serious work. Snicks was sleepy as well. After warming him up and getting him a lot more reactive to my leg (after which he wanted to trot all the time for a little while ), I realized that any serious exercises won't do us much good, so I settled with trotting and cantering to train endurance alone. Snicks was happy to have a good canter, and I was as well - it would have been a nice day to go on a trail ride, if only it didn't get dark so soon in the evenings, when I finally reach the barn after work.
So it seems! Considering his breed and that he's already 8, I doubt he'll grow more than 1-2cm, though. :)
A ride again yesterday evening! When I had already tacked my boy up, I started thinking of groundwork, but was too lazy to untack him again... So riding it was. At least, will do good for his muscling and endurance. :) A new mare, who is living with a couple of other mares in a separate paddock, was being lunged in the outdoor, so Snicks was very eager to meet her. He did his best stallion impression and tried falling through his shoulder to get closer to her, but I settled it with more gait transitions and circles to get his attention back. Apart from that, we had a nice, short session and, although Snicks sometimes just wants speed, not thinking, our steering, responsiveness to the leg and my seat were better than the last time. And it seems that I got the hang of two-point at the canter in my new saddle at last. After I dismounted, I walked him off at liberty, simply allowing him to follow me and praising for stopping, turning and backing up with me. Over the winter our work at liberty had gone a little through the window due to me being overly tense because of some unrelated problems, so I'm just searching for a comfortable communication through the basics.
Found the first tick of this season on Snicks. Yuck...
Found the first tick of this season on Snicks. Yuck...
I found the first tick on a cat, and it also made me YUCK! They have started!
Otherwise, I hope Grand, being half brother to Snicks doesn't grow a lot bigger than Snicks, and is as easy to work with... at the moment all the prayers seem to work - he loves to communicate and learn.
Snickers is actually very demanding regarding how light and sensitive his handler has to be, and this is where most of my problems in riding root, but mentally he is no less than happy to cooperate...if only you manage to motivate him, of course.
I didn't realize Grand was so closely related to Snicks, wow!