Felt good to be back at the barn today after a holiday break. I am now in NYC/NJ well through the New Years and looking forward to enjoying the woods if the weather holds out. I decided to lunge Regal in side reins today as he had a few days off and I hadn’t worked him on the ground in some time. We had a nice drizzle of rain but went out regardless. At one end of the ring there is a bit of a slope which I love to use to get the horses thinking about their balance and feet so we headed for that. I left the reins loose to encourage him to find them and not force him into the bridle and we were off. He at first was happy to go around, head up in more of a galloping position, we did many transitions from trot to canter which got him thinking about his body more and he started to come into the bridle. After my lesson with Sally this weekend I have decided to take a different approach to leads so on the rare occasion that Regal picked the wrong one, I sent him on and he quickly figured out he was more balanced when he swapped, being on the slope also helped to point this out. I then switched to the right, which is typically the harder side because he is weakest there. Trot was strong and he was quick to find the reins, then up into the canter with a few half halts from me he was starting to balance back a bit more which really improved the quality of his canter (which can suffer at times to the right). What I was most proud of was Regal was able to hold it for several circles up and down the slope, good boy!
Today I taught Kristin and Leyla. It was a challenging lesson for both, Aston was a bit hot from a few days off and Spidey was testing Leyla’s resolve to use both sides of her body and keep him straight. Dressage work for both horses continues to improve, they are getting more comfortable and strong traveling uphill, both need to come off the leg a bit faster, but that will come with clear signals and strength. Aston is funny, as he is an awesome jumper and very game, yet requires you to really ride him even when his shoulder gets quick, not an easy thing if you are not used to it. He doesn’t have enough experience yet that you can just sit there but I am guessing pretty quickly he will become more adjustable when jumping. We did a lot of trot fences today, incorporating some placement poles before, to help with takeoff and after, to get them lifting their shoulders after the jump and rock back quicker. Both horses responded well, but required the riders to stay committed to the jump, legs on and a soft communication up to the fence. When they didn’t the horses reacting accordingly and the second time around was a huge improvement. This is not always easy if there is any mental stress, as both horses pick up on that very quickly and react accordingly. All and all went well with both ending on very positive notes.
In other happy news, my second pair of body clippers were fixed and we have a half dozen freshly sharpened blades. Which means Regal, Decker, Dubai and Cali are getting clipped! Our wonderful farrier Ken was here today and it is now officially “that time”, snow studs are going in. I hope we do not need them anytime soon!