So, in my last post, I lamented a bunch of things that–dark comedy style–went wrong last weekend. But as they say, it’s darkest just before the dawn, and this week is already shaping up to be quite an improvement.
I squared away a new phone first thing Monday morning. I can’t live without my iPhone–this coming from a person who didn’t even OWN a cell phone until I was 31, and even then I only had an “emergency” 30 minutes per month plan–but now it’s my personal assistant in a tidy 4.5″ x 2.3″ package. Then I headed out to the barn to check on Bravo. Becky had already called and told me he seemed much better walking around the stall. Sure enough, he was almost sound in his little boot, and I soaked and poked for 20 minutes. There was still a bit of discharge from the abscess site, so I poulticed again and back to the stall. We staged a repeat performance on Tuesday. Wednesday there was no more drainage, so after a last soak, I stuffed iodine-infused cotton into the hole in his hoof and replaced his hoof cast. (If I have not mentioned this before here, I’ve had a dickens of a time with Bravo’s feet–he currently has Equicast applied to both fronts as we transition to barefoot. Apparently I tried to go totally barefoot a bit too fast leading to a stone bruise which ultimately resulted in this abscess.) Once the cast was set, we went out into the arena for some ground work. Mr. I-haven’t-worked-in-a-week was pretty full of himself, so turns on the forehand, sidepassing, backing, and ground tying (basic manners plus) was just the thing to put him in a more “working” frame of mind without stressing the freshly “shod” foot.
Today, Thursday, I prepared to begin the “3-day rule” regimen of getting back to work. I’ll give you the short version and tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. I won’t go so far as to say our connection was solid and he was totally submissive, but there was only 1 buck (induced by a pretty sparky tap with the whip) and very little attitude in general. He felt great–sound and swingy–and I intended to just have a quick ride to get his mind in the game. Unfortunately, I’m totally human and he was going so well I wound up riding a full 45 minutes. One of my go-to exercises lately to help develop true connection and work on half-halts without resorting to “hand riding” is to do serpentines–lots of ’em–with changes of gait over the centerline. In preparation for Second level, and in the interest of getting better canter half-halts, I have been doing canter-walk-canter serpentines for several weeks. Today when changing direction from the right (his weaker) lead to left lead, as I asked for the walk transition I got a flying change. Of course, I’m gonna reward that! We then went on to do the exercise the way I intended, and for fun I threw in a few times where I asked for the change. I got it every time right to left. I only asked twice going from left to right. The first attempt his harder way, Bravo ignored my aid (resulting in the aforementioned whip tap) and then bucked through it, and the second time he did as asked, albeit late to the aid. I know that’s harder for him right now, and decided to err on the side of caution today. I finished with a few of the counter canter loops like in the First/4 test to be sure I hadn’t lost those (nope!), and then went for a short hack in the field to cool out.
Afterwards, I went to Brookside Farm to ride my daughter’s pony. Emmi is a cute-as-they-come 13.0 hand Welsh cross pony that we bought a couple weeks ago. My daughter is WAY too young to really appreciate, much less ride, but I couldn’t pass this one up. I have known this pony since she was a yearling, and actually tried to buy her as an “investment pony” when she was a 4 year old as I was leaving North Carolina after veterinary school. The sale didn’t happen, and 10 years later I found myself staring at her across her stall several weeks ago. This time she was for sale, and what can I say, I think it’s fate. Anyway, she’s just a tiny bit small for me–I don’t look totally ridiculous riding her, but close–yet we’re matched well enough that I can safely (for her) get on and school her. She’s a blast! She has better lengthenings than Bravo (who barely has any yet), and is quite forward off the leg once she realizes you mean business. She has connection issues too, and opposite to Bravo–she wants to duck behind the contact, where he wants to be heavy and tune-out the hand, so I have to get used to her unique issues and work through them. Riding her is going to be as good for me as it is for her!