Because I was barn-sitting for the weekend, waking up and getting out to do stuff with the horses was incredibly easy. They've been frequenting the upper pasture for the past few days, so when they were down in the lower one last night I brought Griffin and Q into the barnyard for the night so they would be right there in the morning when I wanted them (Q even walked to me in the field for the first time...ever). They were pretty surprised seeming when all I did was put their halters on, lead them out of the fence and into the barnyard, and then take their halters off so they could eat the better grass for the night. They've come so accustomed to haltering = workout of some kind, even if its 5 minutes of simplicity, that they were rather curious about my walking away from them without a care in the world. They both trailed after me for a few steps - Griffin moreso - before they realized that they were indeed un-haltered and free to move on their own.
This morning I trimmed Griffin's front hooves and then did some work in the round pen with him. Ever the responsive young gent. He was borderline lazy today. I truly hope this kid finds his spunk in coming months. I see it in the field when he plays with Oliver, I'd like him to give me that when he's in work. His insatiable need to please is wonderful, certainly, but I'd like to see just a little more fire. As is, once he is solid under saddle in a couple years he's definitely more likely to be the horse that I put people on than Q - unless they're solid riders. Q can be an angel, but overall she's just so much more, well, horse-like than Griffin. Griffin trends on the "dog" side of horse with his personality and mannerisms.
Griffin worked well, as always. But more exciting to me than his work ethic and response today were his feet. I've got him on a 2-week schedule right now really trying to get his heels to drop and uncontract. This is the 3rd? maybe 4th trim on that schedule and I'm really starting to see a difference. Its subtle but at least its visible now. I can't wait to see where he is going to be in another two months' time.
For Q today my goal was to get 30 minutes of good flat work. Saiph had given me a series of dressage exercises to work on with her and I chose a few to work on today. All I wanted was a good 30 minutes of focus and work ethic from her. Both are things that have been very rare in our workouts in the barnyard the past few times we worked there [months ago].
I put my jumps up against the barn in preparation for our workout and took the ground poles out to help delineate my "work circle" within the barnyard. I measured it with my lunge line (great tip, Saiph) and it came to right around 30m in diameter. What I didn't do, but should do in the future, is place cones at the 20m and 10m points along the inside. All I did today was place a marker at the center so I would have it as a reference point for our exercises.
I let Q warm up for 5 minutes or so on a loose rein at the walk and trot. She popped into a canter for 4 or 5 strides, but I brought her down and made it evident that we would not be cantering today. Her canter in the barnyard is an exercise in controlled chaos of late. The only time she has been focused with her canter was during skijoring, and I fully believe that she was only focused on it then because of the job that was a part of that canter which involved pulling something behind her. When presented with new challenges like that (or a parade or an endurance race or jumping or anything else I've thrown at her over our time together) she presents me with a whole new level of focus and work ethic. Beyond that new challenge though, any cantering in the barnyard is a heinous exercise.
We trotted a few circles in both directions and then we did a spiraling in exercise at the trot. Worked CCW first from the outside, spiraled to the inside to a 3m circle for two revolutions, then spiraled back out. I let her walk for a bit and then we went back into the trot, reversed into the CW direction and repeated the exercise.
After the spiraling exercise I improvised with a cloverleaf pattern at the trot. We would ride across the circle, make a left turn to the next "corner" of our circle, ride across the diagonal again, left turn to next "corner", left turn across the circle, and repeat until back where we began. Then reverse and repeat with right turns.
For the final exercise we tried the "big X" exercise where we would do 10m circles in the corners and then strike out across the circle to the far corner at an extended trot, trot to the next "corner" and repeat the exercise. It's confusing to explain because as Saiph explained to me you'd trot the short side of the arena to the second circling corner, but I'm not working in a rectangular area so much as a square. Thus, I apologize for my poor explanation so here is a drawing.
|Grey lines are the poles I used to delineate my circle.|
(Saiph, I hope I did this correctly? Haha.) Q was so responsive and focused for our 30 minute workout. By the time we got to the third exercise I could tell she was a little fatigued even, so crazy for the little go-go mare! She was challenged by the small circles at the end, too. It was nice to have a responsive horse without having to beg for her attention the whole time (damn her boyfriend!). Its nice to know that she CAN indeed ignore her friends (and lover) for a time and work, even when in close proximity. (She has zero issues away from home - or as soon as we reach the woods when we work from home.)
Overall an awesome day. My legs are jelly from the short workout, but my mind and body are so happy from the time spent with the horses. School and my busy schedule lately have begun to take a toll on me, so it was nice to be able to release all of that tension with quality horse time today. I'm really beginning to look forward to warmer temperatures in the near future...