Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I've been bad about this lately, but: life goes on. Tris is doing well, a teensy bit stronger and more balanced each time. Canter transitions are more through each time we try them, and the trot is really starting to develop some power. The more dressage-y he gets, the more Spanish he looks, which is a nice and unexpected bonus.

Last night, we toyed with counterbending on a 20m circle, walk and trot. He fussed and fretted and wouldn't, couldn't...until he came through beautifully for one step. I could practically see his brain go BOOM. Following close behind was a "wait...wait a minute...ACK" as he realized how completely his outside hind had engaged. Then he retreated and we spent the rest of the lesson getting back there. But by the end, much better.

My own seat and legs are...in and out. Monday night: plugged in from start to finish. Last night: always just a teensy bit out of reach; I wasn't riding poorly, but I had nowhere near the feeling of solidity and facility that I'd gotten so effortlessly on Monday.

One last ride on Friday, perhaps in a jump lesson, and then C. will have the riding of him as I will be away for a much-needed vacation.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So yeah. I knew we'd take our steps back at some point.

After a nice jump clinic on Sunday, Tris came out for his lesson tonight and decided the pile of poles in the corner were scary. He skittered sideways, I applied the dressage whip and pushed him through the corner anyway.

Then we got to the corner with the chairs, where T. was sitting, and it was like a little light bulb went off in his head: if I pretend that's scary, too, then I don't have to work!

Cue 50 solid minutes of: spook, half-rear, spin to the left, land, try to bolt. Everywhere. All the time. It was one big battle royale of who gets to control Tristan's shoulders now?

I also got a nice little remedial lesson from T. in riding a hard spook. Tristan doesn't spook! This horse is not afraid of ANYTHING. But: turn his head to the inside, boot him off the inside leg, half-halt him on the outside, leg-yield him through the turn. Lather, rinse, repeat, even when that means a 3m spinning skid of a circle, as long as I'm keeping him doing what I want.

We settled for actually working in a 20m circle in the middle of the ring; lots and lots and lots of leg-yields, spirals, and transitions. He got a 2 minute walk break only once; other than that, I kept his little butt moving. Some of the work, especially the canters and the transitions, was quite nice, but I was really far too pissed off at him to praise him as I should've.

By the end, we trotted past T. on the bit, but ohhhhhhhh my was I ever considering selling him to the lowest bidder. Or just putting him out front with a sign - "Free Horse!"

Sigh. Could've been weather, could've been soreness from jumping, could've just been he woke up on the wrong side of the stall that morning.

I emailed C. to give him time off until Saturday, see if that sorts his brain out, and I will jump on Saturday morning. Fingers crossed this was an aberration that he's had time to regret, and not a new trend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Very mixed; Tris was doing spectacularly for a little while, and then on Tuesday we had the most godawful ride we've had in months. He was not willing to be cooperative, I succumbed to getting good and pissed off instead of staying impassive and correct, and T. had to remind me, once again, that ain't nothing going to get done unless I can actually keep my $#@$@ leg on my $#@$@ horse.

But, in lieu of that, a fun story.

Among the things you probably don't know about my horse: he farts. Like, a lot. Like, he's known for it. Lead him off the cross ties - fart with every step down the aisle. Step into the ring - let a long one loose.

Then he tenses up for the first 10 minutes or so of the ride, and then he lets loose with every stride, sometimes as long as a few 20m circles. It's rather amusing, and I've decided to take it as a sign that he's releasing tension. T. says he's also making room to suck his belly up and engage his core muscles, come up through his back.

During my lesson last Tuesday, several of the young girls were cooling out their ponies bareback during my warmup, and Tris, as he does, let loose. I learned then that a) they think it's hilarious, and b) that they've decided it's part of his system of locomotion.

I quote, "how else is he going to get the extra push he needs to go forward?"

So nice to have a horse with capital-P-Personality...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is it totally cheating to just post someone else's riding notes on your horse? I don't even care, I am so delighted with this, from C., received about an hour ago:

Oh pony was magnificent tonight! After just a wee bit of the obligatory argument he settled right down to work. We did all sort of figures and leg-yielded everywhere. We did stretchy-round-stretchy. We did spirals. Then we had an AWESOME canter. Really! Left we were round (really!) and once we did the canter 20m circle, trot spiral in and out and canter he had this "OH!!" moment. We took a break while he processed it and did it again. I think that is a very helpful exercise for him! Even to the right he got round after the spirals. Then he lost his balance but the effort was there. He must have thought i'd lost my mind cause I was patting him so much!! We quit at the half hour mark as really it wasn't going to get any better.

Good good boy!!!

He has been going similarly for me - really really trying in his canter, and figuring stuff out, and just an absolutely delightful ride.

I could do a whole post on how wonderful C. is too and how asking her to ride Tris one or two days a week was one of the best decisions I have ever made, both for my sanity and for Tristan's training and guys, she's just awesome. I have to get her something amazing for Christmas. Any suggestions?

In conclusion: Best. Horse. Ever.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Skating this one in just under the wire before my lesson tonight.

Tris started off loose and limber, but balky. He hopped in the trot, so I pushed him in the canter, and T. got on me right away about how my position goes all to hell when Tris is so behind the leg like that. It's a chicken-egg scenario: Tristan gets hollow and stiff and resistant, so I tip forward, drive with my seat, and scrunch my legs up in the mistaken belief that putting my heel halfway up his belly will push him forward more. That *does* get a temporary burst of energy but it's never any good, and in a stride or two he reacts by getting more resistant.

So: staying deep and long and wrapping my legs around even in the first "canter or die" work. Then we worked the trot for a long, long time, still concentrating on bringing him up in the base of his neck. It's funny how things I would have been ecstatic about two months ago have quickly become our new plateau: he'll soften and chew and reach with his hind end quickly now, but already I can feel what's beyond that. We're starting to tap into real *power* from that hind end, instead of just cooperation; a stride or two at a time, maybe, but it's showing up more and more frequently.

Our big breakthrough of the evening was in the canter. We worked it longer and harder than we ever have in a lesson, and I made some good breakthroughs about the way I ask for and then ride the canter, following along with our first obstacle of the evening. I need to sit back even more than I think I ought to, so I allllllmost feel like I'm behind the motion, and let him rock me, following more softly with my hips, keeping the front open and easy to let the energy go through that way. That makes *him* work harder, and it helps me to be in a better place to cue him. I don't *need* to vice grip with my legs to keep him cantering - he's fit enough to canter a few 20m circles by himself, thankyouverymuch.

T. talked a lot about the things our horses trick us into. In Tristan's case, he makes me think that he can only get a canter after nagging and speeding up the trot, then can't hold it unless I hold him up, luring me into driving with my seat and scrunching up my legs. It's a lot easier for him than pushing with his hind end and lifting through his back. Ironically, I had watched L. on her lovely flashy paint make my exact same mistakes in her lesson not twenty minutes before - and T. called me on it exactly. I also used the mirrors to good effect for almost the first time while cantering, and I could see instantly that what I felt like was leaning waaaaaaaay back was actually sitting up straight. Funny how our bodies lose their sense of center like that.

We had probably the best few strides of canter we've ever, ever, had, and T. even said he'd never seen Tristan move like that. \o/ Now, we're at the point where not everything has to be perfect from stride 1; Tristan knows his job, and I am to shove him through, God help us both, because on the other side there's finally something good waiting for us.

Two observations; first, that I had forgotten how helpful group lessons can be. I had private lessons for so long at Coach's that I got out of the habit of working things out on my own. There's something to be said for that much attention, and I'm sure there are some riders for whom it works better, but my riding has improved enormously from the sort of "directed practice" portions of a group lesson. When T. works me hard for 5 minutes, then I go to the other end of the ring for 10 minutes, and he gives occasional pointers, I add a piece to my intuitive understanding of what's right.

Second: I think even with all the good work we did, my favorite part of the lesson on Tuesday was how often T. and I started praising Tristan at the same time. I've been riding for a long time; I know what feels right, and I know when to praise a horse. But this is more subtle than that. I'm catching the split-second moments and encouraging them, and stretching them out longer, than I ever have before. That makes me a better rider - which is what Tristan deserves, someone who can help him learn with a minimum of flailing around. I'm trhilled to death that I'm finally starting to get there.

After a week of no riding time, I think he'll get ridden every day this week, which is excellent; he was stiff for C. last night. He's turning 15 in the spring, and I need to start to be more aware of his body and the suppling work it needs.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend's worth of rides, under the cuts.

Took His Highness out back to one of the jump fields with two goals in mind: get him a bit better through working up and down hills, and test out the accelerator and brakes before the hunter pace on Sunday.

Through - and occasionally soft - was much, much better than I could have hoped for. He was able to keep his hind end somewhat engaged both up and down hills, and after 15 minutes or so of warming up, around corners. We played around, threading jumps, up and down hills. He even offered a canter a few times, especially going uphill. On the one hand, it was technically evasion; on the other, he NEVER offers a canter and then actually follows through on it. I let him go, and he came back from it easily.

Brakes worked out mostly well save for one incident. I was trying to confirm a left-lead canter/hand gallop down the long side. His left lead canter has reacted to attempts at being through by not being as expressive as I would hope. Embarrassingly, I'm occasionally having trouble spotting the lead. So I wanted to get a nice transition, then a circle, then send him down the long side to work up some speed. Circle went fine 3/4 of the way around, and then faced with maybe 3-4 of open room left before he would have to complete it, he jerked his head around, pivoted on his hind legs, swapped leads, and BOLTED down the long side to the right. (Picture a circle in the corner, with his option to go down either side.) He surprised me enough that there was a distinct moment of hanging in the air over his left shoulder. I remember quite clearly thinking "What? Huh? Oh, HELL no." Shoved myself back in the saddle, brought him back down, and put him back in the corner. Four more bolts right, kept my seat just fine, and on the last try I made the circle more like 12 meters than 20 and did.not.let.him. even think about going right. He came through it after much fighting, picked up speed down the long side, and I dropped the reins and let him be done. We cooled out with a bit of a stroll through the woods.

Sunday morning I got to the barn to find my idiot horse impossible to catch; just kept walking away. Poor Frosty, who I was also fetching, followed me patiently as I walked after Tristan for about 10 minutes. I put Frosty in the barn and yelled back at Tristan that maybe I'd just take this OTHER, nicer pony to the hunter pace. When I went back out for Tristan, armed with treats, he walked right up to me, ears pricked, even before he knew I had treats. Spaz.

Trailer-loading was...sub-optimal. Swerving, backing, and then as is his wont, one big OKAY, FINE and he stepped up fully and stood quietly for Hannah to do up the butt bar. She remarked that he refuses so completely and vehemently for so long, and then gives over all in one wave and is great after that. He just has to make his case.

Trailer ride however, did not go so well; Tucker couldn't find his balance, and was scrambling badly enough that we headed back to the barn to find he'd cut himself. We called it a day, and while I was helping with Tucker, dumped the hay bag in front of Tristan's stall. Turned around a few minutes later to find that he had upended the entire bag and created his own little buffet in a 5' ring around his stall door in the aisle and was leaning over the stall guard, taking a piece, and watching everything in very contemplative fashion.

I opted for a short dressage school in the outdoor. I had some energy to work with, probably a combination of trailer stress + outdoor ring + neighbors across the street sawing metal. It was great - it's pretty rare that I get to work with jittery energy instead of sluggishness, at least in dressage. 15 minutes or so of suppling and circles and he came through wonderfully. He's not really a horse that gets springy and light; he gets light, but there's *power* behind it, a great big wave of push with each stride. It's really neat to feel when he can put it all together.

So we worked that trot for a while, and then I asked for some canter to play with that energy, and - oh, niiiiiiice. Some of the best canter work we've ever done, heavy as an anvil on the forehand but trying SO HARD, and several glorious strides of that deep in the saddle, sitting with the horse instead of just on the horse connection. Both directions! I was holding him up far more than I'd like, but for him to even let me hold him up - especially in the left lead - was so, so huge. Cooled out with a walk around the big field out back - and a trot through the stream to get there, his first trot through water under saddle - totally unphased! Atta boy. :D

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Short, sweet ride on Wednesday. Limber and loose in the walk, so we forged on into the trot. In retrospect: probably a bit too soon, as he was hopping a bit in the first few strides of the trot, asking to canter instead of trot. I pushed through with the trot instead and he shook it off after a quarter circle.

The ring was very busy, so we didn't do nearly as much circling/spiralling as we usually would to start off, and more complicated figures were out of the question. So we warmed up in big long laps, diagonals, working for soft and forward on the (sometimes) trickier straight line.

We worked on transitions, in part because I am a bit nervous about the hunter pace on Sunday - His Highness has run away with me enough times to still leave some residual caution in my brain. I'm getting better about it. But in the meantime: transitions and lots of 'em, concentrating on the quality in the gait before we make the transition, concentrating on keeping all parts where they need to be through the transition, and keeping the forward impulse through down transitions.

He was a bit more stiff to the left than usual; rather, he was stiff and didn't work out of it quite as well as he usually does, probably in part because I couldn't put him on a 20m circle and really work him out of it.

Did a little bit of canter to the right, focusing on the quality of the transition again. Walk-trot, trying to stay forward and uphill, then capturing that upward into trot-canter, really not letting him fling his head up and his body to the outside, and his canter was MUCH better as a result. Got some really, really nice stuff.

Saturday: long hack outside with some quick work to test the brakes and attention span, then Sunday the hunter pace!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lesson with L. last night. Awesome. I love having two instructors; two different perspectives, both great. They teach slightly differently. L. is much more talkative, and T. quieter but more intense in short bursts. Adjusting to them both keeps me thinking, in a good way.

Order of the night was: shoulders in alignment with haunches. It's getting more and more subtle, but Tris still has the tendency to pop his shoulders out and twist his body, overbending and decreasing the amount of work he has to do with his hind legs.

So, outside aids, catch him before he starts, and keep him between four points - two reins, two legs, with everything gathered in my seat. I really felt like my seatbones were doing good work, for the first time in a while, which was great.

Lots and lots and LOTS of leg-yields to work on those shoulders. I started off just aiming for straight; a little bit of bend inside, and not letting his shoulders squirt out to the outside. We went from quarter line to wall, from wall to center line, from center line to quarter line, and basically every time I felt like I had him going straight I tested it out by leg yielding. He was super-responsive in the walk, but took some time in the trot to get as liquid and yielding.

His best moments were the ones in which he felt like he was leading with his haunches. He wasn't, really, couldn't have been, but when it felt like that was my clue that he was really, truly, solidly pushing through from the hind end and carrying with his hocks. Even a couple strides of it were fantastic.

Another problem we're going to have to contend with from now on - now that he's so soft and chewy in the mouth, he over flexes reallllly easily. Solution, as always, is more forward, ride him up into the bridle instead of sucking back from the bridle.

Tonight: I was hoping to work on straightness out on the trails, but it is pouring buckets. I will jump on for a bit - not long - and work on responsiveness. I want to make sure I have the well-behaved horse I hope to have for the hunter pace on Sunday.

Saturday I also hope to hit the trails and fields for some gallop-and-come-back practice just to ease my nerves a bit more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday, first ride in a week, after reports that His Highness had been stiff and resistant for Hannah and C. Not unusual for him, just had been a while since he'd done it.

I actually have quite a few pictures, one or two of them very nice, and I will try and put them up soon.

Tris warmed up stiff, as reported, but a jumpy kind of stiff - not just slow and sluggish. More like there was more jerky movement than I was used to. He wasn't exactly forward, but nor was he really painfully behind the leg like he can be. He softened laterally beautifully; always nice when I ride him the day after L. or T. does! (L. rode him instead of my lesson this week, pre-empted by a grad school function.)

He just wasn't very loose and swingy in a forward direction, so we worked a lot on that. Really most of my focus was on the outside hind leg, engaging it. His inside hind steps under beautifully - maybe even too easily and too quickly. He's much more willing to just spin around on that inside hind than he is to push off evenly with the outside hind, especially going right. So we worked on not letting him just swoop under and ignore the rest of his body. Lots of spiral circles, and when those weren't getting at the problem quickly enough, I tried some leg yielding.

His leg yields have really come a long, long way this summer, and when I can coordinate my aids to ask for a correct one, they are really good for him, one of his magic bullet exercises. Even if they don't work, they help me figure out what the problem is. (Usually my lack of outside aids...) These were great: any bulging and surging through the outside shoulder was easily corralled, and in doing so it meant he really had to push with his outside hind, because he couldn't just swing through and zip to the wall. Trot work became much better.

Canter is still a work in progress. Departs to the right were pretty good, but departs to the left need some work. I can't quite juggle enough things with my body to support him as he needs to be held together through the depart. Unless I have every.single.one of my ducks in a row he throws his shoulder out, giraffes his neck, and scrambles through the transition. I'm getting better and better so that now he will most of the time get his lead, but as can be imagined transitions like that are not exactly conducive to lift and push in the canter itself.

We had one decent transition and about a half-circle of very nice canter in the left, after which I called it a day. I jumped off, gave the saddle to my mother, and crawled up bareback. Very patient pony to put up with my leap and scramble from the ground - I used to be able to do it in one jump and swing. More practice! We wandered around the ring for a while cooling him out, then outside to watch a bit of a jump lesson and take a 5+ minute drink from a puddle.

So: good. My body took a bit longer than I wanted to figure things out again after a week and a half break, and I'm still keeping an eye on his stiffness. (He was also a bit spooky about one of the mirrors - half fogged up - which is unusual for him. He's got two abscesses on his jaw from tick bites, so...if this keeps up I'll see about a Lyme titer.)

Lesson Tuesday, hack/conditioning on Wednesday if I can fit it in before the light goes, otherwise I'll see about schooling him bareback. Supposedly I've been volunteered for a bareback jump lesson this winter, so I should probably see about getting my bareback seat back...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A perfect, gorgeous day for a long-discussed trail ride with Hannah and Tucker. Tristan loaded pretty well, for him - only flew backwards once - and couldn't stand still once we got there, but once I mounted he did great.

We went to what a friend from the barn calls the "turkey farm," though I'm not sure why. It's a wildlife management area, a bit small, but with a loop (maybe two miles? I'm not great at estimates) of lovely footing and beautiful scenery. We walked it, walk-trotted it with explorations of other loops, and then, since both horses were going beautifully and we were sure that brakes and steering were installed, we let them out for a long, hard canter almost-gallop through the woods. It was unbelievable - nothing but running horse underneath and the wind singing a long and the trail ahead. Tristan was beside himself with happiness, though quite tired at the end. He kept up with Tucker until the end of the gallop, and then he fell back a bit, though surged forward again when I asked for some more from him. I was expecting to be left in the dust, so I was really proud of Tris.

C. said he was raring to go on Monday night, not stiff or tired at all, and that they in fact spent the entire ride discussing tempo and staying in the gait she picked. Goober.

We're still down to whittling fine pieces off - more hock action, more reach underneath with the hind, more solid connection in the bend around the circle, more consistent connection in change of direction, and more even tempo. One of those lessons where you can tell the difference from beginning to end, but it's in tiny fractions of percentages, and more a general feel.

He's coming in to work faster, and feeling stronger and stronger. He worked for a solid 20 minutes last night and I didn't even notice he was tired. For the first time, we got something approaching a good canter liftoff in the left lead, and he was thinking about listening to my inside leg - and I was better about applying it - to leg-yield out. He even softened a bit and bent a bit in the left lead, which was HUGE.

We need to work on keeping our tempo and impulsion through the canter-trot down transition, and I need to work harder on keeping my legs where they need to be, keeping my calf on and not letting it wave out in space except when I need it. We also need to work better on stretching out - I'm incorporating a long period of stretchy ring figures into the middle of our rides to give him something different to think about, and to use a different set of muscles.

T. did say we were both clearly working hard, which was GREAT, even though I now feel guilty because I don't think I've been working nearly hard enough, not riding enough. But - I do what I can right now.

After we'd finished, T. was standing at Tristan's head and Tris was quite studiously looking for treats. T. reached over and tugged on Tristan's mane and a bit came out; he casually remarked, "Hm, comes out awfully easy." I stared blankly for a few seconds and then caught on. I don't want to pull his mane! It's gorgeous and thick and technically, mustang breed standards say he should keep it. I would def. consider thinning it out a bit so it's not so poofy, but...wah!

I realized on the drive home, however, that if T. is talking about pulling Tristan's mane, that's a pretty good indication he thinks we'll be ready to show in the spring. So. :D

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lesson last night!

Soft came right away; forward took some time to add in. He was also stiff and resistant off the left leg. But we worked for a long time in the trot, pushing off the inside leg and keeping a rhythm with the outside leg. I think in our future we're going to head out to a field somewhere and concentrate very hard on just keeping rhythm, start a metronome in my head and keep it ticking through trot work.

We did squares, counting out strides and then turning on haunches. He can make a 90 degree angle in two strides easily now, but I need to start making it more supple. When he turns, he's like a block of wood, and I have to concentrate very hard on keeping him between legs and hands to make sure he doesn't ooze out anywhere. He also braces against my hands. So some pieces are there, but not all of them. I think I need more of a leg-yield feel in the turning, not be focused so hard on the great pendulum swing of him coming around the corner.

Leg-yields were good, but as always keeping track of the outside shoulder was a huge challenge. He had a couple really, really nice moments of stepping underneath himself, and as always he felt much better in his circles after some leg yields. In particular, carrying through the leg-yield feel into doing spirals in and out put him more and more into the bridle, and for a few strides at a time I had that beautiful, malleable feeling of holding him between my hips and hands, his energy and my concentration filling up that space.

He's using his hocks more and more, putting more and more lift and spring into his steps. Sometimes I look up at the mirror and wonder whose horse that is, round and using his hocks and with a thin line of foam at his mouth from chewing the bit. When he's really spot-on every drop of Spanish blood in him comes through in the thick curve of his neck and the bulk of his shoulders being used to swing instead of brace.

Canter transitions are coming along, especially the right. Left is still dicey; he's always been tougher that way, though, no surprise. We are slowly erasing his tendency to flip his head and brace outside just before the transition, to ask for the push and lift and rocking horse feel. Going left, we worked hard on leg-yielding him out on a spiral *while* asking for the transition, really focusing all his energy into bending left, then asking for the canter, and keeping the inside leg push through the canter, and then *especially* through the down transition, spiraling all the way back out, not letting him even think for a second of flipping back to the outside or stalling out through the down transition. It was *hard* but we got some really glorious work out of it.

I've been thinking of dressage lately like whittling your perfect horse out of an enormous block of wood, maybe a whole tree trunk. At first you can easily lop off large pieces, and then as you get closer, you slow down, you only take a sliver at a time but you're getting closer to the moment when you can crack another large piece. Tris and I are in that slivering phase right now, but we'll come around to another large piece soon enough, and the cycle starts again. It's more than a little addicting, this sport.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quick summary of where we've been:

In the good, T. said at the beginning of last week's lesson that my lower leg was lightyears better, that I'd obviously been working very hard on it. So hooray for that! (I'd almost always rather someone say "clearly, you've been working hard" than "wow, great job!") Then, in that same lesson, we started to reprogram Tristan's canter departs, to make them lift-and-jump instead of scramble-and-fall. Impulsion, not speed. So Tristan promptly did his best "I don't remember how to canter!" impression and things disintegrated from there.

We're also continuing the elusive pursuit of a back-to-front connection, especially through the base of his neck, and adding tiny pieces each day. He is usually going soft not long after I pick up the reins now, and is slowly getting much more supple left and right. His resistance in that regard is waffling between the old stuck shoulders and a new jello-pony that can't stay in one place to save his life. Somewhere down the middle, as always, is the way to go.

Hannah offered her Tucker to me for a few minutes after her ride last week, too, and WOW. What a neat, neat horse; I got off and handed her the reins and said "that's quite a sports car of a horse you've got there." So, so, so different from Tristan: narrower, and springier, and inclined to rushing instead of lagging, and such an interesting and new set of feedback. I loved especially the spring and float in the trot and am carrying the feeling over into what I'm asking of Tristan. He'll never spring, but he can work toward a lot more hock action than he's currently giving!

Saturday I spent quite a while at the barn, did homework outside Tris's stall, and watched girls braid ponies. He was dripping wet from the pouring rain outside, so I threw a cooler on and he steamed off. I jumped on just in jeans and my Ariat sneakers, and he worked so well so quickly that after 15 minutes I was done. His trot in particular felt great: all our losses of impulsion were quickly corrected, and on the whole he was more consistent. We had, if not lift, then at least push in our canter departs in both directions, and softening and bend in the right lead. Our biggest challenge was focus: the ring was being raked and watered for the show, and had pieces of the dressage ring at one end. By making very sure I was making him think about the work I wanted him to do instead of the scary, evil hose, he eventually worked through and hey, if there was a little zip to his gaits, so much the better.

This week: C. is riding him tonight, lesson Tuesday, hack/hill work Wednesday, and then on Sunday some off-property trail riding.