For me, that means being at the barn and riding! I know my last blog post indicated that my focus might be shifting away from riding into a more studious mind set but sometimes the days open up and I just can't be still. I rode every day. Most days found me working with multiple horses. In between rides I was raking, dusting, sweeping and chatting with Kim. (There was some teaching going on too but let's not worry about that).
I'd like to introduce you to the cast of characters that overwhelmed my week:
I was able to start working with the gorgeous Canadian named Odin this week, joining into some training work that has already been going on with him. (Mentioned in my last blog post) I'm starting out, of course, with groundwork. I have spent my time with Odin leading, lunging and grooming... really just trying to get to know him. Other than being super smart, he is not a lot like Matilda. There is very little stillness in him and he spent a lot of time trying to bite me. I am not using the clicker with this one, though it is not out of the question. Right now I am just trying to get a handle on the personality and not mess him up too much. :/
It's exciting to start work with a different horse. I've already reminded myself that this is a new journey and, as with Matilda, I will make mistakes in how I read and handle him. All I can do is my best and take it one step at a time. So much is possible but I have to work small and smart, looking to achieve small goals.
I believe Odin will be a challenge to my creativity. He seems to get easily bored and I have to find ways to make myself and our work interesting in order to keep his attention. Not so easy for a natural born wall flower...
Odin is also one of Matilda's paddock mates. They seem quite close. Hopefully she won't tell him all of my secrets.
Enter Penny, the retired Amish cart horse, a new love in my life.
Penny came to us a short time ago and has already made a huge impact. She is a real big mover and unstoppable. I got to ride her 4 times this week. She has an incredible amount of action in her body and will force you to loosen up your hips and your back. It is just too hard not to follow her motion. In a short time, she has made me learn to soften my posting, lighten my seat, fully release my half halts and not ride with all my weight in my left foot and hip.
I would think, being a cart horse, she has spent a lot of time with blinders on and in her new life she loves to look! She is a true sweetheart with a gentle face. We are still opening up her personality. I have a feeling she is going to be changing a lot as she tests her boundaries and experiences the new found freedoms in her world.
In the meantime, Kim is working to get her comfortable with cantering and jumping in order to expand her new role as a lesson horse. There is a lot to come for this girl. I thoroughly enjoy her. She makes me feel giggly and school girlish. I can't help but wear a big grin when I am on her back.
Kim let me get on him Friday. It was only my second time to ever get on him. He's a little lazy and very wiggly but once he settles into the idea of forward motion, he is a super cool horse to work on. I hope to be able to ride him now and again to help with his rehab work.
And lest you think I forgot:
This week's focus tended toward finding some reliable, balanced canter departures. In our work over the last year, we have found one here and there, usually having two to three months in between a single success.On Thursday, we got many attempts at canter transitions with a couple of clean transitions in the mix. The very next day we had two successful canter transitions back to back. I was so excited and proud. We may get nothing like it next week but are definitely moving forward.
There are moments during the week when a horse walks past and I watch the muscular legs step into a stall. I feel like I am watching a movie. It is hard to believe that this is my life, working with and around these magnificent creatures. This is a gift for which I am incredibly grateful.
On Friday, I rode 3 horses, worked with a total of 5 by the end of the day. I still get surprised when horses do what I ask. The job of learning and building skill will never end and these characters are the best of teachers.
While I love and appreciate them all, there is only one that remains my partner. (Did anyone notice my change in pronouns? I only realized it when I read back over the horse's descriptions.)