Friday, September 19, 2008

Digging my horse.

It's Friday night. Friday after the first week of classes and what is my celebratory event? Riding my horse. It's still fun to say..."my horse". MY horse! I don't know what he does when other people visit him, but when I walk up to his stall and say "Hey big boy" (I don't know WHY I say that, I just do.) he turns around and comes right to the door. Maybe he does that with everyone, but I'd like to think he's learning my voice.

Anyway, I bought him a new halter today. It's teal and looks quite nice on him I must say. Weaver has these halters with brushed silver hardware that I've been drooling over since they came out. I HATE the color gold and therefore hate brass. It's EVERYWHERE in horse stuff so when I can find other metal colors I tend to go nuts. I didn't buy the matching lead because I really don't like nylon leads anyway and I really don't care that much. He needed a halter that fit, luckily I found one that's cute. I'm not really concerned about mismatched stable stuff. Now, when I was 13 and wiping the drool off of the catalog pages I imagined my "barn colors" to be purple and hunter I do still like those colors together, but after an MFA in design I'm a teensy bit more aware of the infinite array of color combinations out there. For example, I found a fabric from (I give them a bit of business for my costuming) that has these lovely shades of a grey/blue, brown, white, teal, and black. Hard to explain, of course, but it's in the family of all those show shirts you see with patterned bodies and solid colored collars/cuffs. I have a bag of Ultrasuede swatches from a while back when I was considering making a full show outfit and I found a matching HP for the chaps in "Hide" (brown) and an absolutely PERFECT match for the grey blue....which is no longer available....there are some close matches, though so I might be able to pull it off. I have the samples in my tackbox waiting for a day when I can take him out into the light and have someone else hold him & the samples and I can stand back and see what they look like with his coat. MUST have natural light to compare those. Then whatever I choose I can take to Rods and compare to their vast selection of show blankets. I know they say that spending more time on your outfit than on lessons and training is the first step to ridicule, but this is stuff I KNOW. It's easy for me. I know how to find cool fabrics and notions and I know how to make my own patterns so custom show outfits are easy cheesy. I can do that stuff in my spare bedroom when it's too cold to ride. Show tack? That's yet to be determined. We'll see if we're even ready for that next summer. I have a feeling we might start with HUS since I won't have to worry about slowing him down and can keep some contact with his mouth to keep him with me. But that's a long way off...back to today...

So I decided to lunge him with a halter on (at the suggestion of KAT) to see if that made a difference with his weird one-direction thing. I'm not sure if it did, but it was sure easier on me not having to switch the line to the other side of the bit. (I also bought those little clips to put on my reins so I can take them OFF to lunge instead of trying to tie them to the saddle.) I STARTED him in the direction he had so much trouble with and he was fine. Loped along with his neck relaxed, no issues at all. When I went to change to the "good" direction he did more of his back-away thing, but not nearly as bad as the other day. The good thing is, he doesn't GO the wrong direction, rather he will stop and turn towards me and let me regather my line and walk up to him and try to urge him on. We did this dance (urge, stop, turn-in, reposition, urge, stop...) a few times and then he just went. Weirdo. Since the indoor was freshly raked and watered and there was no one else around I figured I'd might as well stay in there to ride. I turned the lights on, mounted up and started our ride. Every day is better, so much better. Tonight was really good. A few times he wanted to bend the OTHER way than I was asking him to, but I consider that more my fault than his. I'm still learning about using my legs properly because if I used my legs on my old grey mare she would consider that permission to do fancy dressage moves. Not that I minded multiple flying lead changes and two-tracks and side-passes, but when you're supposed to be ON THE RAIL for a pleasure class it sort of makes you look like you have no control over your horse. So I learned to keep my feet off unless I meant it. She did really well turning and bending with slight rein pressure. SO now with a horse that KNOWS leg cues, I must remember to use them or he doesn't know what I want. He's much more relaxed now and I don't really have to mess with his head as much. HUGE change in just a week. Wow, I've had him for a week and a half. This last work week has gone by quickly. I started working on his neck reining, too. The first few days he'd have none of it, too distracted, but tonight he was certainly getting what I was asking him for. He's not ready for one-handed yet, but I'm certain he'll get there quickly. We did lots of circles and serpentines and such and his lope was good both directions. I've figured out that I need to really prepare him before I ask him to lope off. Just some vibrations of my outside leg and a little weight shift REALLY helps him get ready to go off right away and on the correct lead. I did have to restart the left lead a few times, but no biggie. I decided to take him from a lope to a halt for the first time and he was awesome. Nice even stop, in balance, too. I really dig this horse!

Maybe it's good that our first few days were kind of frustrating for me because I really appreciate all of our progress together. Because I know I am the only one who's been riding him since KAT rode him that 2nd or 3rd day, it kind of feels like maybe I'm not so clueless after all? Only time will tell.

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