Monday, July 18, 2016

Mr. Cadillac

As part of our month of slacking, I've been riding with the adult ladies on Wednesday nights as one of my two lessons.  Rather than having a private, dressage focused lesson on Fridays, I hang out with a group of ladies that are practicing correctly getting into the canter and learning what a half halt is.  It's very low pressure and we're known to escape for trail rides with no warning.  Or heckle people on their dating life.  Or have poor Trainer A throwing her hands in the air because she's completely lost control of the group.

Come August I'll go back to my high intensity private lesson, but for now, we slack.

Last week was hot as hell so Trainer A set up a lesson on leg yield at the walk using poles to give us markers.  Theo can leg yield at walk, trot, and canter.  He leg yields well enough to do it in shows.  This was not exactly a challenge for us, so Trainer A decided we should play musical ponies.  The three of us traded ponies every twenty minutes.  I started on mi papi, then moved to Baby Pony who I haven't ridden in months, then finished up with an 18 year old TB mare that used to be a hunter.  This also gave the other two riders a chance to try it on a horse that knows it and will do it for them easily enough, so long as they ask correctly.

Theo was a complete non-issue.  I messed with him and did stuff like run the exercise backwards or side pass over the poles.  I also took off to shoulder in at the trot between runs through the poles because I wanted to break up some of that stiffness. 

Baby Pony is now all of five years old and having his first summer as a camp pony.  He's not a fan.  He was definitely giving me a round of teenage angst as only an appy pony can do it.  I basically had to set my hands and ignore him while he had his baby temper tantrum about not being able to trot around with his head next to mine.  By the end of our turn, he was leg yielding over politely enough and keeping his head down where it belonged, which was all I could hope for.  He's such a good baby, just having some teenage angst.

The older mare, now that was interesting.  It took me a bit to get settled, Trainer A has beaten a lot of my old hunter habits out of me, but once we were both settled in, she was a blast.  I cantered a bit in my half seat and she set her head like an old pro.  It was like putting on a comfortable old glove.  We both knew the same language and she seemed happy to have a rider that understood her.  Trainer A wanted me to sit down, but her saddle was super uncomfortable and I kept my keister out of it.  Thanks, but no thanks.  We only cantered for a minute due to the heat, just enough for me to play around.  And when I got off?  All of the pony cuddles.  She's such an affectionate mare.  It really is a pity that most of the kids don't appreciate what a good girl she is.  If I wasn't already in a very committed relationship, that mare would have my interest.

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|      Imagine picture of cute, senior gray mare here      |

As for Theo?  He was dubbed the Cadillac by the other two riders.  While Baby Pony had no clue what a leg yield was and Hunter Mare had no idea what bending was, Theo can leg yield as easily as breathing.  He can also trot around with no fuss and sitting his trot is a breeze compared to most school horses.  It helps that I have a fantastic saddle.  And calfskin covered reins.  I had him dolled up in white polos and blingy browband.  They really enjoyed a chance to get on him after I'd warmed him up so he was in working mode.  Little squeeze and you were off.  With a light contact, he now stretches forward into it, nose poking out a bit, and trots about as steady as a drum.  Nothing fancy, nothing powerful, just steady, comfy, and pretty. 

Cantering was another matter entirely.  Seems you still have to be willing to work to get that.  First he offered a haunches in since she didn't know to keep the inside leg.  That was confusing for both Theo and his rider.  Then he did the transition, cantered two strides, and trotted again because she wasn't riding the canter.  Whoops.  Not that I'm going to do a damn thing to fix either of those.  I want him cantering off my seat and not my legs.  Even with that little mix up, both of the ladies agreed that he was fantastic and they both wanted to ride him again.

And he's aaaaaall mine.

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