The weather was lovely again, so that made things quite pleasant at the barn today. There are some new staffing changes, and more to come, so I'm spending many long days at the farm and not getting to do all the things I want to do. Today, I made certain my boys came first!
Poor Wheels hasn't been ridden since last Tuesday, and although he was very happy and playful on the crossties, his lack of exercise certainly was evident during his ride. I assumed he would not feel great, so I opted to longe him first. He walked for quite a while before he even felt like he could trot, and even then, he worked himself very slowly with short, stiff strides. It did not take very long, however, for him to feel ready to yee-haw, so I was happy to mount up. Most people like to longe so the horses can get their yee-haws out...not for me and Wheels...we go right to that point and then save the good stuff for the training.
He's sluggish to my leg and I want him to learn to move sideways more quickly when I ask. I walked for a while, working on leg-yields along the wall and then changing the bend to travers. We did this in both directions and then changed it to diagonal lines across the arena with changes of bend and steepness of angle. He thought it was fun to keep changing his body this way and began moving more fluidly through his entire body and the movements themselves came easier and more quickly. We repeated these same exercises in trot with much success! We finished the ride with a brisk canter. Although it doesn't sound like we did much, the total work time was close to an hour. Tomorrow should be much better, however, I just brought in some glorious second cut hay that might be far too high in sugar. He might end up feeling like poo, in which case, we'll have to find some yucky hay for him to eat. Poor Wheels!
Junior felt like a million bucks. I decided to ride him in the double for a change. He's been going nicely in the snaffle, so I thought I'd treat him to his oral jungle gym. His warm-up trot felt great; very forward and moving through his whole topline. He also felt very even right from the start. Most days, he feels "dropped" on his right side through his back and I have to keep him in a slight haunches-in to when tracking left and shoulder-fore when tracking right. His right hind has always been weak and it has the tendency to get sore. Not today.
We didn't work for very long since he'd worked quite hard the last 2 days. After our warm-up, we worked on tempo changes in the trot and canter to get his hind legs really pumping. We finished with medium canter on a half twenty meter circle to pirouette canter back to collected canter. He needs to learn to sit better and remain balanced over his hind legs in the pirouettes and this exercise really aids in the transition and keeps his hind legs active.
One things I've discovered is that I believe I'll be able to improve the piaffe from the ground with Liz on top. I've tried having ground people before and it has always been unsuccessful. I'm not talking about people at the barn just trying to help me, but big name trainers. Junior simply doesn't tolerate having someone work from the ground and becomes terrified very quickly. However, with Liz on top and me on the ground with a handful of peppermints, I think we'll be able to make some