Day 7: (February 11, 2011)
Spot Run met Political Pull for the first time today! Political Pull is our other horse and my mom’s been mostly riding him lately because I’ve been working with Spot. He’s also an ex-race horse from Bits & Bytes Farm.
They were so cute. When we first brought the two of them into the cross ties, they kept looking at each other and had their ears forward. I thought Spot would be the more curious one (him being the social butterfly, but Pull surprised both my mom and I when he kept pulling his head toward Spot while we were up in the ring. We let them touch noses briefly just to say high. Neither of them ever pinned their ears back or tried to bite each other so I guess that’s a good sign.
I worked a little bit more on cantering today, and had trouble getting the right lead. I had Spot’s head turned to the outside, I was kicking with the inside, and I had my weight shifted to the outside leg, but every time, Spot picked up the left lead. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong so I’ll have to ask Elizabeth tomorrow.
Spot and I also worked on the trot poles today. I tried to get him to go into the really slow trot again but he was too excited with Pull there. He did the trot poles as calmly and smoothly as ever, but when I tried to walk them to show my mom, he was hitting the poles some. I think I needed to try pushing him on more and getting him to extend his stride. He’s getting pretty good at the last pole that’s raised a couple of inches. I can’t wait to start jumping him when we take him out into the woods. We might go out tomorrow!
After we brought the two guys inside and untacked them, we let Pull and Spot officially meet. Pull was in his stall and I held Spot on a lead. We let them sniff each other and say high. They were adorable! Their noses came together and Spot started to lick Pull. We think that the reason the two were so curious about each other is because they’ve made the connection with my mom and me. My mom would pet Pull and then go down and pet Spot. They could have smelled the other’s scent on us or just seen us giving attention to both of them.
Also, Spot has only met the horses on his side of the road and Pull is on the other side.
Day 8: (February 12, 2011)
I was able to get the right lead canter today! Elizabeth showed me how if you go straight at the fence toward the top and then turn to the right and ask for the canter right there, the horse will get it. Spot picked it up before I had to try the fence thing but now I know what to do if I can’t get it.
We went out into the woods today!! I rode Spot in the front, Elizabeth rode Monarch in the middle, and my mom rode Pull in the back. Spot did great. He never spooked and as we rode along he got more comfortable and I could give him more rein.
There’s a creek right before the trails begin that we all have to cross. Spot was a little hesitant about it at first. He put his nose down and I could feel him sort of wiggling under me. Then he jumped it! He cleared it by about 2 or 3 feet. He was not going to let his hooves come anywhere near that water.
As we rode, there were some small hills that Spot really wanted to trot up. Elizabeth said we don’t want him to trot yet because the hills are good for building up back leg muscles and, also, we don’t want him thinking he can just run off out there. He didn’t put up too much of a fuss about walking, but if he had started to build energy, Elizabeth said I needed to let him go forward.
The whole experience was fun and, besides me messing up with directions, (I still get left and right mixed up) everything went well. On the way back, Spot jumped the creek again but not as big. It was more downhill, so he didn’t have to make as much of an effort.
Day 9: (February 13, 2011)
We had so much fun today. My mom came out, along with most of the barn’s riders, and we all had a group lesson. Elizabeth had us working on a figure eight. We would all walk or trot in a circle and halt in the middle of the ring between two trot poles. Then we would continue in the other direction around the other circle to make the figure eight. Usually when we were trotting we had to split up the group (there were about six of us out there).
Spot did okay with the exercise. I had trouble bending him while trying to ride with the outside reign. I tried to bend his head with the inside rein and then go back to holding with the outside. It worked some, but I think I just need to build up more leg muscle so I can get him bending around my leg. I also had a little trouble stopping in the right place. Mostly that was my fault because I kept asking for it too late.
We switched it up a little afterwards and made the pole perpendicular to the circles so that the horses could step over them. I had an easier time with that one because it didn’t involve halting. Spot could get so straight to the pole that I had to really turn him afterwards to stay in the circle.
The last exercise was sort of a figure eight but different. Elizabeth had a pole in the center of the ring but it was parallel with the two ends of the ring instead of parallel with the sides of the ring. It looked like this ( | ) instead of this ( - ). Everybody had to cross the pole at a diagonal and look at the corner of the ring. Then we would turn and do the same going the other way from one corner to another.
I got Spot into a steady rhythm and we were able to do the exercise well. I was surprised because I thought Spot would try and wiggle instead of going straight toward the pole. He stayed straight and acted as if the pole wasn’t even there. I only hit it once or twice in the beginning.
We worked on that exercise in a regular posting trot and a two-point trot. By the end, my legs were pretty sore, but not sore enough to keep me from going out in the woods again!
My mom, Rebecca, Melanie, Andie and I all went out into the woods for a brief trail ride. Spot didn’t get to take the lead this time but he didn’t mind too much. Once again, he was just happy to be out there. The coolest part was when the deer came flying by. One was jumping and running away in front of us, about 50 feet ahead. Then another did the same a couple of seconds later. When we noticed them, I turned Spot’s head toward them so that he would see the deer and not spook. He just perked his ears up and watched them fly by without any problem.
Once again, Spot jumped the creek when we were going toward the trails. Heading back he put one foot in the water and just sort of took a bigger step.
I forgot to mention Barry had made us all lunch. There were chili dogs and this tasty cold pasta dish. Someone brought out brownies, chocolate chip muffins, and drinks too! Thank you Barry!
To be continued . . .