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Wizard Rides 510, 511, 512, 513, 514, 515, & 516: Light On

August 1, 2013

A little early-morning tomfoolery with Wizard

Wednesday, 7/31/13

Wizard and I took a sunset trail ride, and covered about 4 miles, mostly at a walk with about a half a mile of trotting. As part of our continuing effort to keep calm and carry on through the Horse Park, we walked around the perimeter of the cross-country course on our way toward the lake. Wizard got a little jumpy when he flushed two fawns and again when he saw some unexpected horses and hikers, but he behaved himself and listened to all my cues. I thought I felt a little stiffness in his right hind leg, but could not see anything when I jogged him- I’ll keep an eye on it. The deerflies were awful in parts of the ride. Wizard wore his fly bonnet, but he might have been happier in his full fly sheet riding getup.

Tuesday, 7/30/13

Horse Park Schooling Adventure, Part III

After paying my (very reasonable) schooling fee and watching a few classes and Fix A Tests at the Horse Park, I headed to the barn, turned Wizard loose for a quick play session in the arena, and rode him to the Horse Park for another schooling ride at the horse show.

I don’t know if his playtime in the arena helped (he really blew off some steam at a playful gallop), or the careful repetition, or the change of tack (swapped from the Micklem/French link loose ring back to the traditional bridle with a full cheek French link), but our ride was like night and day compared to last week’s ride. I’m lucky to have such a fantastic facility so close to the barn, because a horse like Wizard really benefits from getting comfortable with new surroundings.

The other change in my routine was that I did not let him walk for so long before I asked him to trot. We only walked about one lap in each direction before picking up a trot. He was more than warmed up since the ride to the Horse Park is over a mile, and we had zero sulking, propping, stopping, tantrums, dragging, balking, or shenanigans for our entire ride in the warmup ring. We rode along the rail, as well as in circles and serpentines. He held his ground when a horse left the ring, and was very relaxed when a lovely jumper was in the ring with us. He was tight through his back, but he was TROTTING. Last Tuesday, he could not trot without flinging himself in five directions at once. Once we had about 15 minutes of trotting under our belts, I asked him to halt IN THE RING under a tree. I want him to learn how to settle and “park” in a relaxed state at a horse show. There is a lot more waiting around at a show than there is on the trails, and Wizard’s a go-go-go kind of guy. After he stood perfectly under the tree, I walked him over to a friend and chatted with her, also a common horse show activity. I’m not a big sit-and-chatter in the saddle, but it can happen, including during clinics and dressage shows.

We walked the long roundabout path toward home. In the cross-country field, there were eventers schooling over fences. A pair of riders headed in the direction of Wizard’s barn at a healthy canter, and Wizard threw his one and only fit of the day. I was able to stand my ground and stay in the saddle and he was not able to take off, so it was a good training exercise. Once all four feet were back on the ground, we continued our walk out of the Horse Park. Although I wanted to head right home, I got clever and asked Wizard to take a roundabout trail that did not go directly to the barn. It worked, and he cooled his jets and was walking on the buckle by the time we got to the barn. Good boy! The weather was perfect for the day, and Wizard was not nearly as sweaty as he was the week before. Success!

Monday, 7/29/13

Wizard and I went on a trail ride with Cathy and Miss Tuesday. We were out for about an hour and a half, and did a little trotting but mostly walked. We walked through the cross-country course to the arena section of the Horse Park. We did not go in any of the rings, but rode past them. It was a good schooling exercise for Wizard, and it showed him that we do a variety of things at the park. Sometimes, we ride through, and sometimes, we school at shows.

Friday, 7/26/13

Christie and I went on a trail ride. We were out for about 2 hours, and it was a proper trail ride! We did some bushwhacking, complete with bloodied arms from raspberry bushes. We explored the trails in front of the lake. We ate a few bugs along the way. We passed the old sheep farm and played in the creek. When the footing got tricky, Wizard had about 3 different episodes of getting wired and leaping around, but he settled really nicely when I put him behind Brigid. Usually, he likes to be on the lead on trails, but he takes comfort in being second in line when we ride with Brigid. He went from leaping through the air to calmly walking on the buckle a few times, which is a huge accomplishment for him.

Wednesday, 7/25/13

Wizard and I rode in the outdoor arena, and it was one of those rides when we couldn’t really get into a good groove. I don’t know if it was the time of day, or something about me, but Wizard was tight and unfocused.

Tuesday, 7/24/13

Horse Park Schooling Adventure, Part II

In our first schooling session at the Horse Park since April, Wizard and I walked over and spent time in the warmup ring during a fun horse show and dressage “Fix a Test” day. He walked to the Horse Park like a champ, didn’t spook at a single thing, and walked into the warmup ring like a pro. We walked several times in each direction, and I worked on getting him to loosen his topline a little while he got his bearings. When I asked for a trot, everything went out the window. Wizard dragged me toward each open gate, and threw a fit when we passed each gate without exiting the ring. I couldn’t even get a true trot in our first dozen attempts. He flung his head. He stopped and would not move. He bounced. He did little crowhops. He swung his hind end to the inside and flung his head over the rail. Unlike our last schooling session in April, I didn’t have a trainer with me. I had to use my wits to keep us safe and end on a good note. Finally, after what felt like a thousand tries, I was able to get about 10 steps of an actual trot across the diagonal, and I chose that as our “good note” and ended our riding session. I did not immediately leave, though, since I didn’t want him learning that we go right home out of the arena. He’s smart like that. So I dismounted, we hand grazed, we walked around, we cooled out in the shade, and then we finally walked home. I hand walked him, because I didn’t really want to ride a potentially explosive horse across the cross country field and the mile back to the barn. He did walk home more relaxed than he did the last time we were at the Horse Park, so there was some progress. I was hoping for more, because I wanted to do a Fix a Test at the next show (one week later). That’s okay. We’re not in any rush.

Monday, 7/23/13

Wizard lost a few days of horse show schooling prep rides because he threw a shoe right before a ride by stepping on himself when I asked him to move over. Clever fellow. He got his shoe put back on after the weekend. Kris and I took a trail ride on Monday, and rode through the “bowling pin” field and around some side fields. Some sort of insect bit Sunny, causing her to do some pretty impressive leaps. I’ve always told Kris that it’s okay to use Wizard as a target if her mare is careening on the trail. Kris remembered, and guided her hopping Mustang toward Wizard, which stopped Sunny. Wizard, the good boy that he is, held his ground like I knew he would. A good ending all around.

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