I swear I did not run away! Things were very overwhelmingly busy with the holidays and the end of the semester. Now everything is finally winding down, of course right when school is about to start up again.
Let's start with the most important updates: the horse related ones.
First and most important, Satin is doing wonderfully. She is turning 23 this Sunday and continues to prove that age is just a number. We have still been diligently taking our English lessons. We had a few bumps along the road with some rough lessons for a us both, but we learned a lot from them and are better for it. The past few weeks we have been working on serpentines both on the flat and over jumps. The work on the flat has really helped in completing the pattern over fences. Two weeks ago Renee had us remove our stirrups and do it to work on our positions. It wasn't so bad on the flat, but then we had to jump, which was quite an experience. I did it, but had a few close calls.
Today we had a great lesson. Her trot was awesome! It has been getting better and better every week, as far as, both speed and frame, but today was especially good. We did trot serpentines with single poles at each end of the ring and a set of four trot poles to go over in the middle. Then Renee change the trot poles to canter poles and we did the serpentine that way. She was absolutely excellent. First time through she completed the pattern perfectly, keeping an even steady rhythm, getting perfect distance over the ground poles, and completing flawless lead changes. We worked on the serpentine, which she did quite nicely by the end. We also worked on serpentining over three small jumps that were basically brush boxes standing on their own with no standards. This make it quite tempting for the horse to go around it, which both Satin and Lexie did several times. It took quite a few tries, but I eventually got her over all three. The best part was that Renee remarked on how nice my rides were to the jumps as even though I had a feeling she would stop at them I rode her perfectly to them and the stops were Satin's decision not mine. I also did not give up or get frustrated. I remained calm, confident, and kept trying until I got it right.
Next we have Taz, who I have begun to conclude is basically the male version of Satin. He cracks me up. He is a very good boy though, and I have a lot of fun with him. We have been continuing our twice weekly rides. We have been doing work on serpentines, as well, and circles over poles, as well as turns on the haunches and collected work at both the jog and canter. Like Satin, he is very talented and willing to do just about anything you ask of him, often with enthusiasm. He agrees with Satin that raised ground poles are very exciting and should be done at warp speed. LOL Though, she has gotten over that a bit now that she has been jumping.
I have to mention what a total rock star JB has been. Since our last horse show in October I have ridden him once or twice, but it was usually English. His owner, my friend Helene, has been in Sweden for the past 10 days, which makes me the appointed substitute rider. This gave me the extra incentive to pack up the western tack and get him back to work. I rode him last Friday and decided to put him in the shank bit as my goal is to ride him on handed next show season. I had ridden him in that bit before but not in quite some time. I got on expecting him to start a big quick and have to be worked into the jog as we usually do, especially since we had not done any western in a while.
Well being the total rock star he is, JB showed me otherwise. When I asked him to jog off he went immediately into a beautiful, slow jog with his head nice and low. I just went with it and instead of doing short spurts of jog mixed with transitions until he was in the zone we went right off around the ring in perfect pleasure horse mode. I think this was aided by the shank bit, which I absolutely love him in! Anyway, I decided while we were being so fabulous it was a great time to start trying some one hand. He neck reins just fine, he just doesn't always go slow, with his head down when using the one hand. I got him into perfect jog mode then held the reins in one hand keeping a low hand to see how long he would stay at the nice, slow, head down jog. He surprised me once again by staying there for about half way around the ring before speeding up or lifting his head. I corrected him then asked again and let him go about ten nice strides then stopped. We repeated this again going with the one hand until we got 10-15 good strides then stopping. Afterwards, I took him out into the grass field to canter as the ring was getting quite crowded. He gave me the most beautiful canter in both directions.
I went again on Monday and he again gave me a great jog, though he was a bit distracted by the scattered jumps with the poles stood against them. We did a lot more work on the one hand and he again did very well with it. He also responded nicely to the correction with the one hand. I did some canter work and he started out a bit rough, but then settled into a very nice canter. We finished up with a lot of neck reining work at the walk. We weaved in an out of the standards and did a lot of figure eights and tight circles. I couldn't be prouder. I have high hopes that we will be neck reining like champs by the start or show season.
Last, but not least, we have Try. I rode Try up until Christmas and his owner has decided to give him off for the winter. He was doing very well riding wise up until the time we stopped riding. He was still a bit cranky with the ground work and tack up, but all in all not too bad.
I promise to try and and be more diligent with my posting, lets call it a New Year's resolution. I plan to do a post with some of my favorite photos of 2011 and some of my Equestrian and photography related goals for the new year.