October 04, 2010

First Time Lunging Willy

Fall, the season when the days grow shorter and the crisp air is still penetrated by the warm sun. There is nothing more I love than to be warmed by that glowing orb and having a crisp cool breeze blow over me so I don’t get too hot. The sky always seems a darker shade of blue in the fall. This year the fall colors are slow to come; we might not have a brilliant leaf change since it’s been so dry but the sound of fallen leaves rustling in the breeze is still welcome.

Unfortunately fall brings wooly horses and burrs that cling to polo wraps. I spent 20 minutes before even leaving for the stable picking out seeds and burrs from the fleece leg wraps. If I had a choice I wouldn’t use the leg wraps when I went on a trail ride with Willy but it’s something Susan requires. Maybe I can lightly wrap the polos with vet wrap once they are on, that way the burrs won’t stick to the wrap and I can toss the seed encrusted outer layer. We’ll have to see.

Today I didn’t find Willy in his usual run so I again had to wander the stable yard looking for him but at least after being here a while I can narrow it down to a few runs that seem to be where the resident lesson horses reside most times. Willy was cute as I groomed his neck, he really leaned into the curry comb and showed how pleased he was that I was working on his itchy spot!

I worked with Willy in the round pen to start. I planned on lunging him and had a brand new lungeline that I purchased on Friday at Equiline. It’s purple, no green lines were available in the store and I didn’t want to wait to order online, oh well all my tack doesn’t have to match right? Besides, purple and green look nice together! I don’t know if Willy has ever been lunged, it doesn’t seem that way since he kept turning and following me as I walked towards him trying to cue him to walk on and trot in a circle around me. I ended up grabbing one of the lunge whips; it helped him realize what to do as I tapped the whip on the ground behind him. I had him walk and trot in both directions, his trot really does seem stiff but it’s not too bad. Once I feel that he really understands the lunging business I’ll work with side reins to start trying to encourage him to lower his neck and more fully engage his hindquarters; to collect. He still didn’t catch on to the halt that well and ended up turning into the circle as he halted. That’s not something you want when lunging a horse, they need to stay on the circle and halt. I’ll have to work on that with him.

Once we had our fun with lunging I put on Willy’s bridle and hopped up bareback again. I worked on relaxing my seat and letting my legs swing without pinching. We did a couple little bouts of trotting but I decided I wasn’t quite comfortable with the trot bareback to keep going very long. Eventually, after I had my fun with some leg exercises, I decided to put the saddle on.
Took this pic off the computer screen of a video, horrible I know!
I worked Willy in the round pen and then out in the stable yard. I mainly practiced posting trot and noticed how much easier it felt after my recent lesson with Laurie. I still felt a little left behind when going up the hill and Willy would start trotting really fast, with short steps. I had to work really hard to keep with his rhythm. I tried to slow him down and keep him at a nice medium trot, the short stepped trot isn’t that comfortable even while posting.

The older man with his daughter/granddaughter (I would assume she’s probably 8 or 9) was there with a photographer taking pictures her and the horse Silver. The photographer was also taking pictures of Willy and I, he asked first, and another girl (15 years old maybe) riding Ladybug. I watched the girl that was leasing Ladybug. She was in the main arena working over a couple jumps. She trotted the mare and then cantered her over the small cavalletis. It was effortless! It really makes me wish I didn’t have that big gap of time where I didn’t ride for years, I wouldn’t be feeling like I’m starting my riding all over from scratch. Ladybug moved like she was made of elastic. I love dear old Willy but there is a distinct difference in how he moves compared to Ladybug and of course Divine. Poor old man. He’s a good trail horse though, a great horse to have a good time with and he’s teaching me patience that’s for sure.
Cute Willy butt!

I trotted him some more and cantered up the slopes a few times. Willy stopped over by the Friesians as I said hello before realizing he was going for the huge bale of hay placed outside their run. Bad Willy! Bad, unobservant rider! I finished the ride and gave Willy a groom down and put him back in his run. Next week Steve is most likely coming out again to ride with us!

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