Quick preface: I wrote this post on Saturday and it got delayed when my computer utterly refused to acknowledge my phone so no photos. I had an adorable video of Jazz eating her minerals (she loves her noms), but it seems that it will NOT be possible to share.
Three noteworthy rides within the last four days and not a single blog post! Bad blogger! Here's a quick overview and update of all three rides:
Wednesday Jazz came in feeling a little squirrelly. It's always hard in the winter when she's alone in the arena and it's already dark out. We started work on our trouble spot in the arena. Tracking left, whenever we do 20 meter circles, she bulges way out towards the door on the open end of the circle. In the final quarter of the circle (approaching K), she dives out with her right shoulder, and when I try to push her back in with my leg, she shoots her bum out right, sidepassing quickly until she finally stops completely. And there is nothing that I can really do when she sets her mind to doing it. No amount of leg helps on its own (and I am not afraid to kick her when I need to), and I tried a crop at my last lesson. It did seem to help last time. But, Jazz is definitely not very comfortable with the crop, and honestly neither am I. Not because I have any sort of issue with it, it's just a lot harder to adjust my reins when I'm holding it, and Jazz thinks it means faster, so I need to use more rein... which is harder when I'm holding the crop. It's kind of a vicious cycle. But, nonetheless, she dove out and sidepassed, and I tapped her with the crop. She had an absolute meltdown. She reeled her head up and bumped her nose on the martingale, and threw in a couple little bucks for good measure. Lucky for me (*knock on wood*), Jazz doesn't have much of a buck in her. We slowed things down, and started working on trotting the half of the circle that was against the wall, and then walking the open half, pushing her in to a small circle if she tried to dive out. It worked pretty well, and we worked up from trotting half the circle to two steps into the open side before walking, and got up to three quarters trotting, even trotting through once or twice. It was a mostly successful lesson. It sounds actually quite non-stressful when I write it out. Bear in mind this whole ordeal took about 45 minutes, and it was literally the only thing we did. Jazz was definitely mentally done by the time we were finished. She had been working on a contact for essentially the entire lesson, and was having a hard time even walking the circle quietly by the end, she kept trying to head toss and bumping herself on the martingale. Finally she settled and I immediately hopped off. She was totally done mentally, but I was actually super impressed she had worked that long on a contact. This was my horse! Jazz! She worked on a contact for forty minutes before getting tired of it! That's huge! This is the same horse who I wasn't sure would ever learn to accept a contact she was so sensitive to rein pressure. This is the horse who I had learned the habit of waaaaaay too permissive hands from because too much rein confused and agitated her! Score!
Anyhow, it was ultimately a lesson that was both good and necessary, but I ended the night a little bummed. It was just hard to spend that long on just the one thing. Even though I knew it was important progress, it wasn't 100% an easy pill to swallow.
I came back the next day and brought Jazz in for a ride. It was super busy in the barn because someone's farrier was there, and two or three horses were waiting to have their feet done. I ended up heading into the arena to groom, and it was empty. Jazz was a little off just because she was alone, but right when I was ready to get on, another boarder came in with her horse to ride. I immediately tested her on the circle we'd done in the lesson (with no crop), and she did well. I worked up from a walking circle to a half walk/half trot circle to a full trot circle, and then didn't touch it again. Jazz, like all horses, does really well when given a little time to hang out in the pasture with her friends and be a horse between rides to let things sink in. She did totally awesome trotting her trouble circle, and I immediately moved to tracking right and doing other exercises that didn't involve her sticky spot. I had her canter for the second time since she's been wearing the martingale, and it was AMAZING. She just stepped right up into it when I asked for her transition, and did several circles well balanced, not too fast, and listening to my leg. It was awesome! I couldn't stop smiling. She was doing so well, I even pulled out some trot poles and did some trotting around over them, working on turns and pace. Just before I was done riding, the other horse left, and she started to get wound up a little. I decided best to end as well as possible, so I put the poles away and did a nice cool down before untacking and heading to the barn to feed her her minerals and probiotic.
I headed to the barn to meet up with a friend to do some groundwork with her horse. I showed up an hour early to ride, and it turned out she had the same idea. Her and her two daughters came early to ride another boarder's horse who they ride in lessons. I ended up tacking Jazz up in the western saddle, and returned to my truck to discover that somehow I had taken both my english and western bridles out and left them at home. Oops. I dug out my rope halter and lead and figured that if she wouldn't co-operate to be ridden I could always do groundwork. Granted, she wasn't as responsive as with the bit, but she almost never works in the halter anymore, so expecting her to be would be ridiculous. I did a little walking and trotting, mostly reveling in how weird it felt to be back in the western saddle. I like the seat and how it feels to sit in it, but it weirds me out how the stirrups don't move. Since I wasn't looking to accomplish much with that ride, I decided to hop off and offer to share. Both of my friend's daughters rode Jazz, and all three looked happy as clams. I think Jazz likes being a kid's horse because kids don't make her work as hard as I do. I ended the day with a little barebacking and a demo of some groundwork with Jazz. We never ended up getting the other horse to work with because we were having too much fun riding. I was very proud of how quiet and awesome Jazz was for her young riders!