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Wizard Ride 166: It’s Nice to Know You Work Alone

August 11, 2010

Wizard: Equine Landscape

Monday, 8/9/10

One of the best parts of riding horses in the summer is the cool nights. Monday was a hot day, but a little breeze picked up in the evening. Some weeks, the barn is packed with riders on Mondays and some weeks it’s quiet. This week, we had the place to ourselves. Some horses don’t do well when they are by themselves, but Wizard is just peachy with being alone.

We rode in the big outdoor arena under the lights, starting out with a nice forward walk, followed by some limbering trot work. Wizard tends to slow down a little when he’s realllly stretched down and on the buckle, so I concentrated on maintaining my position and keeping my leg on him as he stretched. We did some lateral work, which engages his hind end and gets the inside leg to outside hand connection established.

In the middle of the arena, there were nine trot poles- one set of three, a few strides, then a set of six. I’ve never done that many trot poles with Wizard before, but he cruised through them with no problem. We took them twice in each direction. Once, he tripped over one pole but regained his balance and went through the rest quite nicely.

I could feel that Wizard was motoring along nicely so I did a little test. I asked him for a halt and then a trot. He bounced into a trot from a halt within a step or two- marvelous!!!

Our canter work was fantastic. He picked up his left lead on the first attempt and we did circles and straightaways, lengthening and shortening his stride. The right lead was stickier and it took about four tries to get it right. I’m still trying to get it figured out. I try to do twice as much work on the bad lead as on the good lead so he develops balance and strength.

As we cantered around the arena, I felt much more self-carriage than he has had in the past. His fitness is helping his stride. He was remarkably responsive to my rein signals, and for fun, I did a little neck-reining. We did some circles with neck reining, and I could feel him sitting down a bit on his hind end. I think he remembers rollbacks from his barrel racing training :^)

On a lark, I gave a little outside leg, and he performed a lovely leg yield away from the rail. I think leg yielding is easier at the canter than it is at the trot for him. Part of it is the built-in impulsion of the jumping stride of the canter, I think. It was a blast, though. It makes me so happy that we’ve really taken our time and every time I ask for a new behavior, he complies. These are some of the things we’ve done in the past few weeks for the first time ever:

– hand gallop
– leg yield at the canter
– turn on the forehand
– halt to trot transition
– taking a jump at a canter
– jumping a vertical
– cantering in a small arena with shorter turns

In all, he’s been quite the star pupil.

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