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.