I just tried to post this in my other purely-horse journal, but the forum wouldn't let me because it was too old and it's instructions on how to rectify the problem didn't seem to make sense on my iPad. So anyway, I will post here instead:
oops, what a neglected journal.
I am extremely happy with my boys progress.
I have two regular riding friends, both of whom are knowledgeable and competent - so we can enjoy each other's company and mutually support and respect each other's views.
This winter I have been riding both Riley and Ukon out on the trail as much as the weathers has been allowing it. We have done deep snow until the horrible thaw-freeze-thaw-freeze has made that kind of snow too ice-encrusted to risk. There are now a couple of subdivisions and reserves that are rideable in, but if the weather gets worse we will be purely restricted to the arenas.
Both horses are turning into wonderful reliable trail horses. Riley is un-flappable, careful, and steady. He was sore for a while after his shoes came off (fronts only) but is fine now. I would love to get him properly fit, to enable him to enjoy life more - and this is still my goal.
Ukon is learning so fast!! He hacks out from mine and from friends. He is still a bit of a nervous ninny at times but his underlying nature is bold and confident. He has a lovely forward stride and will bash through huge snowbanks without a care in the world. Every ride out is a learning experience for him, and I see him grow up in front of my eyes.
Canadians are clearly a very slow maturing breed and I get the benefit of watching those fine brains and personalities learn and mature.
I have also found a wonderful dressage instructor
as recommended to me by the trainer that took Ukon. She comes to the barn which is three miles directly south of me so that I can use their indoor arena.
Now - I have had lessons for many years, and I am a competent rider but right here and now is proof that we are ALWAYS learning and that no-one is too good for lessons. I am discovering (re-discovering maybe?) the use of my hips and pelvis to move the horse. My horses don't have ingrained bad habits that I have to deal with, they are blank slates (Ukon especially) and I am loving the mental challenge of being responsible with these blank slates. My old bad habit of riding forward with my lower leg while 'pushing' the horse with my pelvis is going and I am now learning to 'softly scoop'
Riley can be magnificent when he wants to. He has natural beautiful carriage and I need to work on forward energy and impulsion with him.
Ukon is learning to concentrate; that's hard when there is an exciting world around you. When he concentrates I discover that he too can come together to hold himself up and round, he has potential to be wonderful.
I am loving it!
If it weren't for this winter I would not have been forced to retreat into the barn, and I would not be giving the dressage training a proper chance. My horses and me will benefit sooo much in strength and agility.
I hope soon to start introducing the sidesaddle to Ukon - probably for the last ten minutes of each lesson from now on, building up to more.
The journey continues