Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break: Now With 73.6% More Spring!

Well, that was, surreal.

We had freakishly gorgeous weather all week. Even Monday (the "crappy" day) was amazing by March-in-Minnesota standards, and Royal molted all week. It's almost too nice, and I'm expecting the other shoe to fall soon...

Monday it was "cold" (60s) and rainy, and of course Royal took full advantage of that:

He looked so proud of himself when I got him out of the paddock. It's hard work finding the muddiest of the mud, I suppose. I managed to get him somewhat cleanier...

The dark patches are wet hair; apparently the mud was REALLY wet. After this we went ground-driving on the road, which he seemed to find interesting. We haven't done any ground driving in a while, and both of us were a little bit rusty. He still found the area by Needledick's house scary though. I can't say I blame him, since there are scary noises coming from there all the time. Other than that, he did very well.

Tuesday I attempted to do some one-rein riding/prep for bridleless, but that didn't turn out well. I was already in something of a bad mood, and Royal feeds of my moods like crazy. It didn't help that the birds had returned to the arena and were making a lot of noise. Eventually I gave up and took him out on the dirt road. He was a little jittery, so I asked for a trot which turned in a canter. I threw caution to the winds and asked for a hand gallop, and he obliged. He went for a while, before I asked him to slow down and turn around. And run like hell, which he did. Damn that horse is fast. After that, we were able to focus on some stuff in the arena.

Wednesday I decided to torture BJ with some grooming and mane-taming. Which turned out okay. He didn't shed as much as I thought he would, but he was fairly tolerant of my fussing around. Cutting his mane didn't look as good as I hoped (he was kinda squirmy) but it was alright.

I messed with Royal after that, cutting his mane as well. But I discovered a bit of a problem: his mane is REALLY thick in the middle of his neck, around three times as thick as the ends. So no pictures until I get done thinning that section out, which is a very slow process. I'm using the Lynn Palm method of "pulling" the mane, which doesn't seem to bother him too much. But it can't be done in just one session, so I'm going slowly and it's improving. But if I ever get in a financial jam, I could probably sell his hair for something.

Thursday was JUMPING DAY! I began with a lot of ground prep since we haven't done any jumping in the past couple of months. I also had an idea about helping Royal conquer his fear of tarps and stuff on the ground. I thought I was going pretty basic with the Blue Blanket, but it occurred to me that maybe I haven't gone basic enough. So I set up two poles about two feet apart to simulate a ditch. And even that got the hairy eyeball for a second before he hopped over it. For riding, I set up our favorite pole-to-crossrail and a 2-foot single. The actual fences went well (I think I'm getting over my initial nervousness that usually comes with jumping), and I recreated the "ditch," which got a halt with hairy eyeball. Back up, try again with a gargantuan leap over the teeny "ditch." It took a couple more times, before he skipped over it like it was barely there. I think we're getting there.

Friday I had to meet with someone for a while before I could go to the farm, so I only had a little time to play with Royal before I had to go to work. I tried to play with yielding to pressure on the hind legs. He's still pretty iffy on that, which he demonstrated with a lot of kicking and deer-in-the-hindlights expressions. He improved a bit and on Saturday we were able to play a bit with the Blue Blanket. This time the strategy was just to let him retreat as much as he needed and figure it out for himself. He still seems no more comfortable with it, but eventually he'll get it.

Sunday was more Game of Contact, and he is really improving. We're steadily progressing into Stage 3 and he's getting it. He still trying to yank the reins out of my hands at first, but I can really feel him start to hold the contact and drive from his hind end. My posture is also starting to improve, if I can remember everything. Another ride on the road in the sun to close out what has been the best Spring Break I've ever had. I wished it could have lasted forever, but all good things must come to an end.

It was fun while it lasted.

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