Okay, now that is out of the way, onto good things. I haven't had too much time to play with Royal (see above), but what little time I've had has been fairly successful. Last Friday was nice and sunny, so we played out in the field on the 45-foot line. He gave me some really nice, soft trot and canter pretty far out on the line. So I, of course, decided to ramp it up and see how he did at the gallop. He tends to get really tight and high-headed, so I anticipated some fireworks. Which I got, a little. He's a little hard to slow down afterwards, so I think the next step is to just let him gallop until he comes back into the canter by himself. But right now, he's not fit enough for that, so we'll just keep doing "sets" OnLine and riding for now. Research has shown that doing sets are really efficient at fitting up a horse and hopefully it'll keep building his self control.
I also may have, erm, altered his tail slightly.
I banged it. (By the way, the term "banged" supposedly comes from the practice of banging tails on blades with blocks of wood to blunt the end) It's not the most radical, but I can definitely see the difference when he moves. I'm not sure I like it, since he doesn't hold his tail like a regular sporthorse. He tends to hold it straight out, especially at higher speeds. So I probably won't do it again. I've trimmed the hairs at the top of his tail and that looks better (will have pictures of it soon). Also, look at the black hair on his legs. It seems like it's staying a lot longer this year, even though he started shedding earlier.
On Saturday, it was cold and rainy and dreary, so we were confined to the indoor and practicing stuff on OnLine. I set up a 2'6" jump and had him practice jumping out of stride. Again, he did very well. He tends to find a pretty good take-off spot on his own, so all I have to do leave him alone when I'm riding. Then I decided to try desensitizing him to the clippers, which also went fairly well. It didn't help that it was raining and someone was longing a young'un in the arena, who was having too much fun bucking and rearing, which got Royal's blood up. But he still let me have the clippers around his head and ears, and actually clip his legs.
He was not very sure if he liked the look or the rain. He was really not happy with the rain.
Sunday we practiced trailer loading. He hasn't been in the trailer since last October, so he was a little nervous, but willing to hop on and off. I didn't have a lot of time, so I left it there. We continued with it on Tuesday, but this time I actually got smart and used the clicker. He tried to be all weary, but the power of cookies won him over. I got it him to stay in the trailer for 5 seconds before backing out. But I need him comfortable in the trailer for the start of our Summer Adventures.
You may remember my *New Years Resolution(tm)* post back in January, and while most of the plans are going fairly well, there have been some changes. First of all, I am NOT planning on competing at Otter Creek, at least not in the spring HT. We're not at the point with the GoC where I feel comfortable adding the stress of competition to it yet. So, instead, I'm dropping that plan and adding three (!) new competitions. The first is the spring version of the MN Hunt Cup! Yay! I was ridiculously excited the news and I'm still very excited. Low-key and relaxed x-c experience not too far away and it was so fun. I don't know if we'll do as well this time, considering a lot of the competitors didn't quite know the purpose of the event: to practice pacing. So, who knows. But it'll most likely be great, and a friend is probably going to be competing as well. Awesome! Then we have the Carriage House Schooling Show, doing the 2' jumpers as a confidence builder, but hopefully also the walk-trot dressage tests. Again, it'll depend on where Royal and I are with the GoC. And, in late June, we have a SCHOOLING horse trial! I know! And it's not too far from the farm, except...
Royal is moving. After graduation, I need to focus on getting a job and more experience for vet school. So, he's going to live at a family member's place, which is going to be a lot cheaper for me. I'll be losing both the indoor arena and closeness to the Cities, but I'll have a lot more space for my jumps and the ability to set up a little dressage arena, plus space for galloping. We'll also be close to a trail park, so I'll be able to do lots of trail riding. So, quite a few pluses, but I'm sad to be leaving the farm. Royal's been there for over six years, and it's become like a second home to me. But the horse care aspect has started to slip (Almost all the shelters in the pastures have collapsed and I am REALLY tired of picking burrs of Royal's mane and tail), and it's not set up for someone like me. So, it's sad, but a necessary change.
The adventure's only begun...