“You’re jus’ so good,” Grayson called out her car as she drove up to the barn during my morning ride. I woke up and was out of my apartment by 7:15 this morning. By 7:45 I was on and ready to go.
Each day I try to make goals for the ride that I can achieve throughout the ride. I’m a very driven and goal oriented person, and without a something to work towards I feel like I’m not achieving anything. Today’s goal: lengthening and shortening of stride, movement from behind, and balance.
I started out on a loose rein and warmed her up – walk, trot, canter. Who knew this pony could do the pleasure divisions! I decided that instead of constantly getting out of the pony’s way, that now I would go back and forth between using my seat for contact and getting up off her back, especially at the canter. Interestingly, after some no stirrup work, I found that she is just as responsive to collection when I use my seat effectively as she is when I use my hands. This morning I was able to achieve a balanced and collected canter on the buckle. And as I took up contact I began to do my figure eight – I want a pony with auto-changes! The more we practice the better we get. Today I even got a full change with just a weight shift and leg! We did tons of lengthening and collecting at the trot and canter as well, and at one point I even opened her up into a big hand gallop, which I was able to collect and package within three strides by sitting deep and packaging her up again.
At the walk and trot I also worked on staying round through the whole circle (she usually loses the bend three quarters of the way through the circle, or pops a shoulder out). We also practiced our shoulder-ins and leg yields. We still can only shoulder-in at the walk, but she does move away from pressure while staying on the aids at the trot to achieve the leg yield. Yay!
I threw two or three jumps into the mix today as well. Jumping is no longer a big deal for the pony. There is no longer the mentality of RUN RUN RUN! She has learned that it doesn’t take speed to get over a fence, when she is balanced she jumps big and round despite the small size of the fence, and can come right back to the trot with a question of collection from my body language – not from my hands. I’m planning a jumping session for the weekend, and Sarah will video.
As our conversation was wrapping up, while the pony was grazing, I said “So pony, what do you think?” She was ripping out the grass like it was going to run out. Grayson responded for her, “I’m starvin’, they’re starvin’ me! I’m an Ethiopian!” I couldn't help but laugh hysterically. Grayson and I had been discussing the pony’s nutrition. She looks like she may have dropped a few pounds since she got here, although she was definitely thin to begin with, and conformationally narrow and petite, so we decided to up her food to a scoop and a half. Grayson hopes that we can put maybe a hundred or hundred and fifty pounds on her, and they go from there.
FYI - I know the photo is from July - but its my favorite!