May 25, 2008

Battle Hill with the Team

It was raining today, so what better thing to do than to go over to Battle Hill with half a truckful of horses. I dragged Nick along to take some photos and help out too. There was nobody else around, so we had the whole space to ourselves.
I saddled up Billie first. She's going really well, and is just so much more balanced than previously. She is also starting to carry herself, but she can get a bit tired and fall back on me to hold her. I'm going to switch her feed to something with more energy to try and perk her up a bit which I think might help.
She's still chewing the bit at times, but seems to stop after a good warmup. Need to do something about that huge mane before her next dressage test though... I suspect it's time for me to learn how to do one of those running braids.

After some flatwork I took Billie for a hoon up and down the paddock. She isn't very fast! But nice to be able to drop the reins and know she's just going to truck along nice and steady. She was good about the rain too, as we were cantering into that really icey piercing rain when we went for our blat, and she didn't even try and tuck her head in or evade.

Alfie was next up, but he hadn't actually been ridden since I took him to the Grays Rd arena (as I've been away for work, and the days either side were a total rush, so I only got Billie worked). I wasn't sure what to expect, and it turns out Alfie wasn't really sure either! He was fine for me to hop on him from the truck ramp, but fairly worried about heading into the big open space. I was starting to wonder if someone had taken my horse and replaced it with an alpaca :/ not good!

He settled down really quickly though, and I am thrilled with the way he went. Not quite long & low yet, but at least it's not a head on a stick in mid air. And he was so obliging. It was great to see that he was quite confident too, and happy to stride out instead of shuffling along or scrambling/spooking. There is a low key dressage day next weekend, and I am hoping he can go along and see what it's all about.

Of course, to complete a dressage test we're going to have to canter. I hadn't had a canter on him yet, and wasn't too sure about doing it in such an open space. But Alfie just popped into a canter really calmly. I needed to get off his back a bit to start with, and encourage him forward - but he was just a dude about it all. I even did a few more canter transitions and they were responsive and clean. So happy with how he's going.

I put Alfie away and had a look at Gem (who, by this stage was almost breathing fire with the excitement of being somewhere different and going out for a ride!). I thought this could all be rather interesting. But she turned into a lamb (well, as much of a lamb as Gem ever is) once I got on her. She is still a bit heavy in front, but she was a lot more forgiving today and wasn't tanking off or pulling.

She was such a good girl - Mum should have fun taking her out to the next Solway dressage day. Gem even got big hugs after the ride for being such a good horsey.

Upcoming events for these 3 are local dressage on June 1st, then Solway (Masterton) for dressage on June 8th. I think Tielcey (Palmerston North) dressage is the 20th. By that stage I'll be well and truly sick of dressage and searching high and low for some sort of showjumping!