Thursday, October 29, 2009

Onward and Upward

Things are finally moving forward and I feel like we are making some really good progress. Salem is starting to understand the half-halt, he is paying more attention to me, and he is halting much faster. (Although, on a related note, our peppermint budget had skyrocketed!) He does have a tendency to pretend he's a little prairie dog and scan the horizon for predators, but I am slowly convincing him that paying attention to me is much more rewarding. When's the last time a predator stuffed you full of peppermints? I rest my case.

Last night, I was lucky enough (or, ahem, smart enough) to be riding right after Elaine finished up with Sage's lesson. She and Heather have been helping me tremendously and I don't know what I would do without them. And, as usual, Elaine was kind enough to stick around and give us some pointers. She had me work in the small arena, and we did a lot of work on circles and spirals and half-halts. There were a few moments every now and then where we got it; and even though those moments are fleeting, they are well worth it. Elaine said that she can see that Salem is really starting to listen and understand what I'm asking him.

More Things To Work On:
1. Do NOT lower your outside hand! Keep your hands level.
2. Less inside rein, more outside rein
3. At the canter, hold him for three strides and then release; repeat (this made a huge difference in our canter)
4. Do not rotate your left hand; keep your elbow by your side
5. Before asking for the canter, make sure Salem is settled and relaxed, not anticipating the transition. If he starts rushing, half halt and walk a few steps, then ask.
6. At the trot, think about your rhythm and keep it steady with your half-halts
7. Do not pinch with your knee

Due to our previous Peppermint Work Days, Salem was much more attentive and listening really well. Yes, he still likes to have his head way up in the air, but I'm not going to worry about it too much at the moment. That will come with time.

So, today, Heather and I met for an evening ride and I finally managed to convince Jennie to be our photographer. Yay! So, first she decided to take some "Behind the Scenes" pics, in the hopes that she would catch me abusing Salem, like this:

Gah! I am a Hunchback even whilst on foot!

She also did an in-depth pictorial of me getting on the Ponykins. We are teaching him to stand still while he is being mounted, instead of trying to turn-on-the-forehand/much-grass/meander-all-over. And, once again, the tool of choice is peppermints (see why the peppermint budget has shot through the roof?).

Don't ya just love our mounting "block?" It is ever so helpful, especially when mounting bareback (which I have not tried with Salem yet)

On to the pics of the actual ride! While I do see definite improvement, we still have a whole lot to work on. But, as long as we are taking baby steps forward, I'm happy. Heather said that we both looked much better; she said Salem is really developing a rhythm, staying straighter, and also looks much more balanced at the canter. Wooohooooo!

Hhhhmmm, I think we need to talk about "Zoom" again ;-)

I swear I am a throwback to either Cro-Magnon Man or Neanderthal

Heather and Sid -- lookin' good, as usual!

Heather! :-D

Later on, I snapped some pics of Salem in the barn aisle, and I can definitely see that he has lost some weight. He's getting five flakes of good timothy/alfalfa hay a day, plus 3 quarts of Triple Crown Senior twice a day. I'm going to see if my budget can be stretched to include some extra hay, hay cubes and maybe even some Cocosoya oil.

Actually, I think these pics make him look thinner than he really is (don't freak out, Ruby!), but we do need to get some weight back on him. Of course, he's getting worked every day now, so he will be gaining muscle and losing fat; but, we certainly don't want the lad wasting away, either!


eventer79 said...

Nice -- I never thought of using a set of grandstands to get on my horse.

Frizzle said...

Hahaha. I ♥ that set of grandstands