Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two posts in March - oh well.

I have now gone riding with the lady on her Morgans three times. I am still having a ball and my body is getting used to it MUCH quicker than I thought it could. Even though I'm only riding once a week which technically is not enough to build fitness of any kind, I am hardly sore at all today after riding a bunch yesterday.

One thing that's nice to discover is I am so far doing good at my posture and not reverting to the "fetal ball" posture that new riders/out of shape people do. Yesterday Mister did a couple of interesting things that made me think. On the first ride I discovered that his flexible little self (used to be a park-type show Morgan) tends to duck his head behind the vertical when he wants to evade the bit, and he also tends to veer a bit left when walking/jogging. I do my best to always ask as lightly as I can to accomplish something and always reward immediately, but I doubt such a tough problem could be fixed at his age unless the owner worked really hard at it. He is also a cribber and has VERY STRONG neck muscles. Well, yesterday we were loping along a dirt path and all of a sudden he veered to thel left. I got off balance, recovered, and after loping an S-shape we got back on the trail.

She said he just did that with someone else too and neither of us is sure why.

For the rest of the ride I paid really close attention to him and myself, as I was afraid that I was not balanced on him and causing him to veer to get more balanced. Instead, I noticed that whenever he does not want to slow down he immediately bends his ribcage rightward and ducks his head leftward. So, it is not my fault. Interesting little acrobat!

We agreed that for now I won't worry too much about keeping him slowed down at the lope (the owner doesn't want to go too fast) but instead I will focus on using my legs to keep him straight and make sure to breathe deep. That will make him go faster, but it should help a lot with the ducking and veering.

By the way, I just love old horses! There is something so "soft" about old horses and how they relate to people. Mira, of course, is a perfect example of that. :-D

Meanwhile, I have started handwalking Andolu again and it seems to me that he is now sounder than he has been since I got him. Boy howdy, he is finally acting like the racehorse I expected when I got him! Let's just say that snorting, blowing, and tip toe ready-to-sprint with bug eyes describes him quite well lately. I have never been able to ride him very fast before - he never volunteered to do more than a slow lope before, but now that he is feeling so good I have a feeling that has changed. In a week or two I am going to start riding him again, as fast as he wants to go. Yeeks. However, I have a plan! My brother #2 is going to hold Mira at the bottom of a really steep dirt road and let her eat some hay there. I will have warmed Anatolian up and also let him eat some of the hay. After a bit, I'll take him back a little ways on the flat and encourage him to go. Going away from Mira and up a steep hill should keep a limit on his speed and endurance and I will do that the first few times I lope/gallop him so as to keep me relaxed and just going along for the ride and so as to teach him that when I do ask him to slow down it is so as to save him work.

I am looking forward to learning to ride his rather *big* canter/gallop but I want to do it safely for both of us and do it in a way that teaches him to listen to me about the speed and direction and hopefully keep him from developing any bad habits. I also plan to trailer him over for some lessons soon with the local trainer. She can work on him and work on me and hopefully help us do this right.

So, that is where I'm at lately. So many good things going on that I don't have much internet time. I miss everyone and hope to get caught up sometime soon.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Update and Exciting News

Hi guys, (all three of you faithful ones :-D) I wanted to pop in real quick and let you know how things have been going this last month. Crazy, satisfying, and surprising would all accurately describe recent events. First, Anatolian is almost completely sound again and starting to canter around the pasture again! Major relief and hallelujah there! Second, I met a lady a few miles away from me who has a couple darling little Morgans. She has people who come to ride with her on a very large ranch she has access to, so that she can exercise both horses at once. She needed somebody to start riding on Mondays with her so I got to go try it out this week! From the beginning I liked her because of how many questions she asked me and how organized she was. She is 73 and has had horses for several decades now. The gelding I rode I will call Mister - the one she rode we'll call RC. Both chestnut, both with some degree of feathering as well as the typical gorgeous long Morgan tails. Mister is rather swaybacked as one would expect from a 24-year-old guy and he is slightly on the small side for me at under 15 hh, but he is in great shape and full of energy.

We led them across the highway and then mounted up over there. Then we followed a small road until we got to trails that wound around all over the area - it is interesting b/c some of the time we were on the ranch which is a huge old open area but still has neighborhoods bordering it, and sometimes we were on dirt roads going between lots of houses. We crossed the river (in Western terms - it is about 15 feet wide max) and an adjoining stream several times, which was fun. I love water and going through it on a horse is so neat! The horse she rode tends to be a little bit harder to control so that when we would canter sometimes he would try to go as fast as possible and my horse wanted to keep up so he would be going practically flat out and I would be trying to coax him to take it easier. Neither of them was bad, just happy and eager to go. The funny thing is it has been so many months since I was able to "really" ride that I was slightly nervous I would be horrible at it and feel tense when loping. However, I guess the opposite happened - I was so glad to FINALLY get to RIDE that I just reminded myself to breathe and have fun and I did! Also, Mister spends a lot of time jogging to keep up with RC's walk, but his jog is incredibly smooth. About 2/3 through the ride we got off the horses for a while and had a snack and gave the horses a snack. All told we rode for at least 2.5 hours and I had an absolute blast!

One thing that was cool but could have been bad was when we were going past some houses and someone right behind one of the house fired off a gun twice, about 30 seconds apart. It was close and both horses spooked, but I just gave Mister enough rein to jump and move out of there a few steps and then slowly drew him back to a walk and then the second time it went off he barely spooked at all.

I really enjoyed talking with the lady and she said she had fun too. The best part of the whole day was that she is NOT the kind of person who is effusive or goes around complimenting people naturally, but she said several times that I was a naturally good rider. She actually sounded kind of surprised as she said it, and I knew it wasn't just flattery. That means a lot to me because I have often wondered if I think too much of the compliments people have given me on my seat in the past, if I blew them out of reality, and wondered if I really have any talent at all in riding horses. I have yet to actually go to a show and get judged on that, but this really restored some of my faith that I can learn to ride really well if I keep working on it.

The next couple of days after the ride I was quite, quite stiff, but it was worth it. Monday is coming up again and I can hardly wait to go again! This is such a cool opportunity and I intend to make the absolute best use I can of it - so cool that I only have to pay for gas! I still want to see if I can get some longe lessons for my seat from the trainer I was going to go to, but getting to ride every Monday for free is way cool. Like I told my brothers, I got to go riding so hyper me is here again :-D