Thursday, July 11, 2013

Q's continued progress

These days, Q's "rehab" per se, is not so strictly structured in what she does but how long/how
frequently she does it and where. I'm trying to keep workouts to three or four a week at 30 minutes each or do one longer ride a week. All of these workouts, to this point in time, have been on flat surfaces or very minimal inclines.

I'm nearly certain she could handle hills as long as we didn't go balls out to the top on them. But we just haven't been presented with many opportunities to pursue riding hills of late. I think this may change beginning this weekend though. In three weeks, our endurance ride is taking place. And Q will be sweeping one of the loops. My vet has highly encouraged this (she has encouraged me to compete!), so I have faith that Q is indeed ready for this.

I've started following recommendations of friends who have experience with dressage work with Arabians to perform lots of exercises that involve frequent changes in direction or speed. It seems that the Arabian (or mostly Arabian in this case) brains just move a bit quicker than other breeds, and thus I need to stay a step ahead of her by changing up things quickly.

Last night, I moved her through what I found to be one of the best exercises yet. 10 strides trot, 10 strides canter, 10 strides trot, back and forth back and forth. I did five or six sets of this, dropped it to 8 and 8 for two sets, then let her walk it out, reverse direction, repeat. Her responsiveness was incredible. She's 110% trained to voice commands, too. I knew that she knew "walk". I found that out completely by accident a few years ago. I've started using "trot" recently, too, and discovered she also knows it. We haven't cantered a great amount until last night though, and I was pleased to discover that with "can-TER" and a little nudge she follows it as well.

Certainly, she is very responsive to any leg pressure and moves beautifully off it, but the added voice cue really gives an extra "oomph" to the quickness of the transition. So fun!

Look at that smile!
Over the weekend, my friends visited. I'd offered up meeting/riding my horses and they were all
eager to come out. Each of them rode Q for about 10-15 minutes. We did everything on the lunge line at first. Walking, reversing, walking over ground poles, trotting, halting, trotting over ground poles, and even trotting over a low-low jump (cavaletti) for the brave.

Q is a doll on the lunge when she has a new rider. She's a decent babysitter off the lunge, too, but still very responsive and did try to trot off when one of my friends accidentally applied too much leg to her. While she trotted in the direction of her friends (her rider was scared and didn't ask for a halt very well), she didn't do her usual manic must-find-my-friends trot that I've seen her do and had her attempt with me when she throws a minor fit. I'm pretty certain she just thought she should trot since she felt the squeeze/heel bump, and because there was no direction from the part of her rider she made the executive decision to just head toward other horses (we were in the barnyard not either of the rings).

Despite little hiccups like the above, my friends seemed to have a blast riding Q and doting on Griffin. They got to see me ride a little, see Q exhibit each of her gaits, trot poles, and a small jump(!). I also showed them Griffin's expertise in the round pen listening to my body language, his ability to do "horse yoga" with carrot stretches, and his developing trick to lie down + the added standing up with me on his back. (Side story: Griffin lies down almost as soon as I lift his leg with the rope now. Leg up, he shifts his weight and goes into a bow then lying down within 15-20 seconds! Such a quick learner. My next goal is to replace the rope with tapping cues from the dressage whip. Once this stage is complete, I should be able to cue him to lie down while in the saddle if I so choose!)

I loved sharing my horses with my non-horse friends and providing them with some exercise in the process.

Griffin, my "big dog"

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