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Bahea the Professional Mare March 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 2:04 pm
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I’m so pleased with Bahea’s progress back to fitness. Her hay belly is going down and her topline is filling in so she looks less like a broodmare that’s been out in the field for a few years and more like a riding horse. My plan of joint supplement and slow, steady work (and let’s face it, warmer temps) has reduced her stiffness and the fluid on the front of her hocks. Focusing on her balance in walk and trot has definitely helped the balance in her canter. It still needs work but I’m at least able to play with it a little bit.

For fun last week I first tried some walk/canter transitions. She took a couple of trot steps then went right into canter. I feel like with a little practice she will be back to having those spot on. Then, since her canter was feeling pretty good, I thought to myself “Why don’t we go across the diagonal and ask for a flying change.” So I did. And she seemed to have no idea what I was asking her to do. She didn’t get upset or fussy – she just kept cantering. So I quickly changed plans. “Okay, let’s see if she can counter canter.” And she did so pretty easily through the short side of the arena. I came across the next diagonal to get back onto the true lead and praised her highly. She didn’t need to know that I asked for a flying change and got no response. She did a good job at counter canter. So I got going the other direction and did the same pattern only skipping asking for the change. Her counter canter going to the right was more difficult for her, but she tried hard and stayed true. What a good girl.

The lessons here? Ones you’ve probably heard before. Have a plan. But when that plan doesn’t work that day, be ready to change it immediately to what the horse needs. Don’t be afraid to play with other skills – like the flying change. But at the same time, don’t punish your horse if he doesn’t do it right or not at all. Remember, you are just playing and any attempt is worth praising. And in my case I figured out right away that Bahea doesn’t know a change so there was no way I was going to get after her. She does, however, counter canter so I praised her for that.

I’m very impressed with Bahea’s work ethic. She knows her job and does it. Work in the arena? Got it. Hack around the field on the buckle? Sure. Of course, I’m still waiting for the weather to improve enough to get her out on the trail, but I don’t know why she will be any different there. She is, after all, a professional Arabian mare.


Blogging on ANOTHER Snowy Day March 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 2:28 pm

This winter has been brutal for so much of the country! I’m starting to think that if spring doesn’t come soon everyone is going to “go postal”. Of course I’m watching it snow again from my little, warm apartment, but luckily I have been able to do some consistent riding and it’s starting to show with Bahea. Her back is filling in ever so slightly and her trot is becoming much smoother and more even. I’ve started adding some lateral work back into the routine – mostly leg yield and a little shoulder fore/shoulder-in. As soon as we start with it she curls and wants to get behind the vertical. My guess is that she was ridden in draw reins at some point so my goal is to encourage her forward, up and out (but not hollow) with her head and neck when we move laterally.

For a change of pace last weekend I put out ground poles. I figure she was fit enough to start doing them and I was curious to see how she’d react. Well, first time through she pricked her ears as soon as she saw them, broke into a canter and did a 2-stride bounce through the 4 poles. Ha ha! I was told she had jumped at one time. She obviously remembers it and liked it! It took a few tries to settle her down through the poles but once she realized that jumping was not part of the equation, she trotted through the poles nicely. Since she obviously enjoys that sort of thing I want to incorporate more poles into our work.

The last time I rode before the snow I actually rode in the outdoor arena. Hooray! Finally the snow and ice had melted and the footing thawed and dried enough to be in really good shape. Yes it was cold (30 degrees I think), but the sun was shining and I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity. This was the first time I rode her outside. She looked around at the horses turned out and made a sideways glance at a remaining snow pile, but otherwise was very good. It was nice to get her in a larger space (the indoor arena is the 20m by 40m) and to know that she is not easily distracted by the goings on around her. We finished with a walk around the grass jumping field. She stopped and stared at the horses who came over to the fence, but moved on when I asked. Riding outside was so enjoyable for both of us. I look forward to taking her out on the trail and seeing what she does there. In company I suspect she will be just fine.

So here’s hoping the snow melts quickly and warmer weather makes a return. Bahea and I are ready to go!