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.