March 1, 2011 4 Comments
I was tired last night and not feeling great, so I stayed on the ground once again. I had some time to kill, because the arena was busy, so we had a marathon grooming session. I curried a pony’s worth of hair off Maddie, who dozed almost the entire time. I trimmed her tail and fetlocks, and pulled her mane. Weirdly, she loves having her mane pulled. In fact, if she needs reassurance, I will step to her side, ruffle her mane and gently pull at it. To Maddie, mane pulling is soothing. She was pleased with the results:
The arena cleared, so I put on her boots and out we went. Christy and Steph were there, and I handed them my cameras, which I carry most evenings. I was hoping to get some video of Maddie being extravagant – when she’s at liberty, she’s shown us some lovely, lovely gaits that I have yet to produce when in the saddle. Maddie willingly complied.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt real suspension when riding her – but my riding has been spotty lately due to my work schedule and extended periods of feeling crappy. I will never forget the first time I started to get suspension with Maddie under saddle – all of a sudden, the trot started to feel really funny to me.
“What’s happening?” I wailed to Christy.
“You’re getting suspension!” she told me.
“Errr, I don’t like it!” I replied as we buzzed by, and I fought, eyes popping, to stay with all the new motion below me.
“YES, YOU DO!!!” Christy said, unequivocally.
Anyway, Maddie was full of fancy last night. It’s fun watching her go at liberty, because more often than not, she rounds herself, stretches, and shows gorgeous gaits I wonder if I’ll ever be able to ride. Here’s one example – this weird picture is a still from a video – but look at how she uses herself. No wonder that floating trot felt so different to me the first time I encountered it!
Here’s a little video snippet just as she was getting going.
Just for fun, we decided to set up a little tiny cross rail to see how she jumped. We’ve not jumped Maddie, and don’t know if she’s jumped much, if at all. At first, she was hesitant, but didn’t run out. She got lots of praise for her effort.
Within a few minutes, it was evident that this was a fun new game to Mads. She trotted and cantered easily over the X with little encouragement.
And and even more quickly, the X became a raised cavelletti. Mads went back and forth over the rails without breaking stride. Watching this video, I can understand why cavelletti are favorite tools for developing gaits and strengthening stifles – you can really see her using her back end.
It was a fun night, and a good session. In between all the new things, I focused on my groundwork skills, and got longing pointers from Christy. And Maddie seemed to enjoy the variety too – she was alert and attentive, and willing to follow direction. Interludes like this make the indoor arena less boring for all of us during these long Midwest winters.