Today has been quite a week, and between dropping my Spanish class, being diagnosed with strep throat, and both my teachers cancelling class today, I feel like I have had a lot of free time, even if for most of it I didn't feel anywhere near 100%. I have spent a lot of time harrassing my little - and she still doesn't know who I am yet! I send her candy and cookies and boys, and I'm constantly surprising her with tasks and things. I love her, and she is going to fit it so well with me and Sarah!
This morning I drove around the outskirts of Burlington, Liberty, and Gibsonville (I think?), as I explored Guilford county. The first half of the week for my composition course I needed to shoot several images to illustrate my understanding of the rule of thirds. While conceptually I understand it just fine and use it on a regular basis it was interesting to head it into "unknown territory" (landscape photography) and experiment with these ideas.
Of all the photos I took I was only halfway pleased with three of them. The first shot is a location that I have been dying to shoot Sarah and Moose in, so we may head over there tomorrow. I really like the aged look with the dead tree and broken fence, so I think I'll have her straighten her hair and wear a dress of some kind... I haven't quite figured out exactly what I want to see yet, but luckily this location is not far Grayson's and Sarah is a good sport.
Anyway, today, as Grayson was calling the horses up from the bottom of the field (they all come running), I decided to take some photographs of all of them in the afternoon light. Right before they all reached the mudlot, the pony noticed me! Instead of continuing on towards the feed bucket she ducked right, and ears up she trotted straight towards me with a "Hey! I know you!" look on her face. And she didn't stop ten feet away, she came all the way over, and put her nose right in my camera. If I didn't know better I'd say she is starting to like me!
Under saddle she was fabulous too. We played the friendly game before I got on, and when I got on we were able to quietly walk, quietly trot, transition back to the walk, trot, canter (briefly), and come back quietly and relax on a loose rein. This is about the point that we got to in the fall, but this is a different horse. She is finally starting to trust people, she is interested in what is going on around her, and she isn't always afraid that something bad is going to happen. Granted she isn't perfect - she still backs up (threatening to rear) while bridling and she thinks that she should always be allowed to face me (sometimes I want her to just stand still while I walk around her). And she is also still learning to trust that it is okay to pick up her hind legs for me to pick out her feet.
Ritter was also a really good boy today - switching to the kimberwicke has really made a difference, and while he is still out of shape, he is really starting to move from behind into the bridle. The kimberwicke helps me to back him off of my hand when he starts to lean, to ask him to relax down into the bridle when he tries to imitate a giraffe. His worst habits right now are simply the result of a lack of fitness, so each day that I ride him I ask a little more and a little more. Today I really got after him about giving me a proper bend, since he has spent most of the rides popping out his outside shoulder or inverting to the outside on a circle. Spurs and a dressage whip help to keep him between my aids.
Today was also the first day he has jumped in a long time. We did a cross rail a few times and the tiny brush box as well. I put poles in front of each to help him figure out what to do with his feet, and it definitely helped. He even launched himself over the brush box! I noticed that he was pulling hard to the left - a habit that Zena had too early on - and I found over time that it was a reaction to being ridden most often by a rider with a weak left side. So in order to nip that in the bud I jumped it two extra times releasing hard with the left, adding left spur and holding with the right, which resulted in a clean rollback to the right. It will take more jumping experience than he has to have him jumping around a course quietly, but there is no reason why at eight years old he can't figure it out quickly with a bit of consistency.
This weekend Janene is going to help me free jump both Ritter and the pony, and hopefully we will get it on video so that I can show everyone just how good these two ponies are. I will probably try to set up a combination - three jumps each one stride apart.