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Wizard Ride 35: Stirrup Kisses and Dumbo Loses the Magic Feather

January 6, 2009

Stirrup Kisses

Tuesday 1/6/09

I broke my sessions with Wizard into two mini-sessions today. I longed him in his new Happy Mouth King Dee mullen mouth shaped bit so he could get a feel for it. Although the bit looked big, the plastic sides actually push the bit away from his cheeks. The mouthpiece itself fits him perfectly. Wizard normally takes a 5 or 5 1/4 inch bit bit Happy Mouth bits tend to need to be sized up so he wears a 5 1/2″.

We longed for about 15 minutes, mostly for a little fitness and to work on our walk-trot transitions. He was the perfect little horse and did everything I asked. I put him back in his stall and he ate his dinner while I watched some other lessons and hung out at the barn with my mom.

Later in the evening, I tacked Wizard up for our ride. For the past 4 rides or so, Wizard has become more reactive to the saddling process. I changed him to a sheepskin saddle pad but I see no difference- if anything, he’s more agitated. Once the pad and saddle are on him, he does not react to the girthing process, which is strange to me.

Wizard is also sensitive to grooming. I purchased the softest brush I could find, but he still flattens his ears when I brush him. I let him give his editorial opinion for many sessions, but I finally had to reprimand him recently. I simply yelled, “ENOUGH!!!” and bumped his neck with the hard part of the brush. He quieted himself immediately and I praised him profusely when he relaxed.

As much as I hate, hate, hate to scold any human or animal, Wizard was simply getting too pushy about grooming. I try to let animals tell me how they feel about things, but after 30+ sessions and with him getting more and more opinionated, I finally had to let him know that this is unacceptable. And he listened with one loud word and a brush bumped against his neck.

After we tacked up, I rode Wizard indoors for about 15 minutes.

We started with Stirrup Kisses, a suppling exercise known by many other names and one that crosses disciplines from dressage to western pleasure. I asked Wizard to turn his head to my right stirrup by pulling the right rein toward my hip, while releasing my left rein to allow his neck to bend. When his nose is close to my stirrup, I release the right rein. Then I did one to the left, reversing the cues. Wizard was quite good at this exercise and even held position on both sides. He’s a bendy guy!

Walk

Then we worked at the walk, which felt fantastic. My seat felt more relaxed and I rode confidently. Wizard responded with a big walk that I call The Dinosaur Walk- kinda like this.

walkleft

The trot was not as smooth :^) Without my Magic Feather (aka my friend Sarah), I could not trot Wizard as well. We also were riding at the far end of the arena (away from the gate and barn) because the arena was watered but had not yet been groomed. The trot was just-OK, but I lost my quiet seat and began to fiddle with Wizard’s mouth again. Argh- SO frustrasting!!! More rushing, less balance on my part. My timing was off. Wizard even broke into an awkward canter at one point when he had trotted himself off balance. Good to know that I have plenty of stopping power, even in the Happy Mouth Bit ;^)

We DID get a few nice moments at the trot, but none nearly as nice as the ones from the night before.

trot

After one last decent little trot, I went back to the walk with Wizard. The VERY good part was that he was perfectly willing to go back to the Dinosaur Walk immediately after trotting. He was relaxed and willing, even after a few clumsy trots with me.

Back at the barn, I worked on Wizard’s bow- he’s slowly learning how to lift one hoof and bow down like a little circus pony.

Wizard has Wednesday off. Thursday night? Another session with Sarah and Sarah :^)

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