June 5, 2011 2 Comments
I’ve had Derby for just a few days, but the more time I spend with him, the more I like him. He’s proving to be sweet, gentle, willing and sensible – just what I was seeking.
He’s also a quick study. His first walk through the back aisle of the barn when it was empty elicited some snorty looking around. The same trip today? Nothin’ but a thang.
He was trepidatious about the wash rack, but after giving him a minute to check it out, he followed me in – and I have to give him some credit – the water was draining slowly, and there was a really big puddle on the floor. His attitude was “Well, if you say it’s OK, it must be OK.”
He’s an easy horse to be around and work with – and I’m really enjoying him.
Yesterday was really hot, and I was pressed for time, so I didn’t ride, principally because I needed to try a couple different saddles, which would take a little extra time. So instead of riding, I decided to do a short session on the longe line.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time longing different horses, and have had some real a-ha moments. There was one break through session free-longing Jag in which we were so in synch that I was able to guide him around the arena – over poles (something he always avoided if he could), changing directions and gaits. What made that night so cool was Jag’s unwavering focus on me. He read and responded to my every move and cue.
Maddie and I had some interesting moments too. She was not as tuned-in to humans, was more easily distracted, and I had to work hard to gain and keep her attention. She also would constantly test me – which at its heart is a respect issue, since longing is more about using your position to influence the horse and get the outcome you seek. She and I did have some good moments – I used longing to gain her attention when she was wound up and uncooperative more than once. And shortly before she went to her new home, I was able to work her at liberty, getting her to canter serpentines all down the arena.
Longing is interesting to me, because I think it lets you evaluate how responsive and attentive the horse is. Derby turned out to be a star. The barn was almost empty, and most of the other horses were outside. I put Derby on the longe line, and went into the arena. Initially he was a bit tense, and immediately stepped off into a trot. I stepped toward his shoulder and said “walk,” and he did. We did some transitions in all three gaits, and worked a bit on standing still, in both directions. Derby was attentive, responding to a quiet verbal command or shift in my stance.
We cooled out, and I led him into the indoor wash stall, to continue introducing him to all areas of the barn. After a quick rinse off, we hung out and grazed for a while.
Today I had more time, and went out with my newly-adjusted Wintec Isabell and a cool old Stubben Romanus. I tried the Stubben first but hopped off almost immediately because my stirrups were too short. I ride with extra long leathers, and past experience with this saddle has suggested that standard leathers would work. The last time I rode in it, I ended up having to wrap my leathers, because the shortest hole wasn’t short enough. Every saddle is different, and they ride differently on different horses. However, today, the wrapped leathers were too short, probably because Derby has such a deep girth. I had to get off to unwrap the leathers. I hopped back on.
I love the Romanus but unfortunately, in about 1 minute I determined it doesn’t leave enough wither clearance on Derby. Rats. I hopped back off and we went back into the barn to try the Isabell. I put in a wider gullet, and am using my Mattes pad with a Thinline shim in the front. It was better than the medium-narrow, and we had a good (and uneventful) ride but I don’t think it’s a perfect fit. I’m scheduling a saddle fitter for next week. I think the new pony will need a new saddle, too. This isn’t entirely unexpected. There’s always a period of adjustment with new horse. We’ll get there.