Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In the Arena #58 - Heading in the Right Direction

Just returned from the barn, where Val and I had such a wonderful afternoon!! My goodness I can't even describe how much I love my horse (insert hearts with cupid arrows, A +'s, happy faces and a maybe a million exclamation points).

We started off in the arena, and got right to our trot work. The contact felt pretty consistent today. As a result, we achieved several confirmed half halts and reaching. (!) Brief and restricted to the long side that has the deeper footing, but confirmed nevertheless. Val seems to use his core and pick his back up more easily when we work in the deep parts of the arena. I'm not happy that the footing varies so much, despite nearly daily grooming, but it is helpful for me to feel when we start working correctly. Sometimes no matter how much I read about something, or how much instruction I get, it doesn't really sink in until I feel it.

So, since our arena work went very well, I decided to follow up with more out of arena riding. We walked around the property for a few minutes. I persuaded Val to go a little way towards the woods trail. He wasn't 100% calm, so I didn't push, and let him turn around. We headed out towards the front of the property, did a few circles and I would have been satisfied there, but when we got back to Val's gate, he turned around, expressing interest in more outside time. I decided not to be obsessed about steering and continued to let Val express himself. We walked back out towards and through the front gate! We even went several calm steps in each direction down the road. When we returned to the arena, I wouldn't say we side-passed, but I closed the gate from horseback :)

After all of that progress I thought some grazing reward was in order. Back out and down the road on foot. We stopped to eat a treat off the top of one of the death dealing trash cans, and then open the top and poke our noses in. Some in hand trotting to keep our soles in shape - with Val keeping my pace exactly and fully paying attention, + lots of green green grass.

As I cleaned and put away the tack, Val shared some gentle grooming. Why is it that horses always find that little bit of skin between your shirt and pants so interesting? My old ride Cowboy used to groom me there too. Val seemed like he enjoyed our afternoon as much as I did. I had to drag myself away :)


  1. Aww, don't you just love days like this?

  2. Perfect!
    Footing has either supported my Dressage or hindered it. The best rides ever, for us, have been in sand arenas 3-5 inches deep..really feel the movement! Your ride sounded heavenly, in and Out of the arena! Yeeha!

    I will have to go home to see the phone won't open them...they must be good!
    You go girl!

  3. What a cutie. Love the first picture the best,he's a handsome guy. I know what you mean about having to feel it. I can listen to trainers for hours but until I feel what they're talking about, it's in one ear and out the other.

    It's so cool that you let him wander around on his own and that he wanted to explore. I've done this many times just to see where they prefer to go, I'm usually surprised by the direction they take.

    So happy you two had a great day. And you're just starting the warm weather now so there will be so many more wonderful productive days.

  4. Good stuff girl! Good, good stuff.

  5. Really wonderful! I love your photos outside the ring. You have a lovely trail to investigate. You are so lucky. Great idea to have Val eat treats off the garbage can lid. The secret!

    I love the nuzzling between shirt and pants. Horses...sigh!

  6. Loved hearing about this magical day. We all have them from time to time, but it can be easy to forget that when winter stubbornly refuses to relent.

    I won't forget your giving Val a voice in the decision-making progress. That's a wonderful thing.


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