Here's a view I've been anticipating for awhile!
I've been riding Dixie all around the property this past week. Her hooves still aren't 100% but I think this movement will do her a lot of good. I know it's doing me a lot of good! Can you imagine, after years of dealing with a very big, bad attitude and going down to the barn each day dreading the next ride, to brushing the horse down in the barn, with a tingle of pleasant anticipation? Dixie is my dream come true!
We warm up by walking over two sets of four ground poles in hand for about ten minutes. A wonderful little book I have on training gaited horses is giving me just the right encouragement, saying that right now, to cure Dixie's pacey-ness, it's all about getting the tension out, getting the head down, developing her topline and hindquarters and getting her to "separate her feet" in her mind. For a good year, I can work on developing the "dog walk". With the poles, I've been able to help Dixie achieve a gargantuan overstride with very little encouragement. When we first started, she was only "capping" her front hoof prints.
I am riding her in a full cheek snaffle, no noseband. Her mouth is unspoiled (at 17!) but it needs a little tuneup. So when I ride (she stands like a rock at the mounting block!), we work on lateral flexion and lowering the head for awhile. She was very inattentive and high-headed/tense when I first got her. Now I am riding her with her poll level with her withers and lots of relaxation. We are also working on the one-rein stop, which she's really starting to understand.
She put up a feeble back-to-the-barn performance the first couple of days, but that's evaporated. I like to take her into the trees in the photo, and weave around a lot, do a lot of work around the barn before we head into the pasture, which has gentle slopes and a large flat-ish area. She tends to want to charge uphill, and I guess lots of trail riders like to do that, but it's unauthorized, so we are working on calm uphill work. She responds immediately when I check her with one rein. We get to walk, and sometimes graze up on the flat, then before getting put away, she gets to do some more approach-retreat from the barn and weaving through the trees which are very near the barn. Throughout the ride she is keeping her head down and now she's flicking her ears back to me.
Hubby's going to uncover the horse trailer today, maybe, so I can add in some loading-unloading practice. She's been a wee bit reluctant about loading, so that will be a useful addition to our daily exercise.