11.06.14: A Hop, Skip, and a Jump

We have finally gotten a break in the weather and things have cooled off considerably. The windows are open again and everything! In honor of the delightful weather I figured I'd better take some time to ride Storm while I had the chance. They were also enjoying the break in the heat and were out in the back pasture rather than up in the run-in shed. I trekked out to the back pasture of South, open to their herd through the chute connecting pasture 2. Storm was munching away at the grass but still came along with me as we started the hike back up the hill. We made it through the chute and were on the other side when Macchi and Audrey came barreling through not wanting to be left behind. Storm swung around in front of me and wanted to run with them, but I was able to manage him and keep him with me. Audrey and Macchi stopped shortly after passing by us since Storm wasn't running with them and they weren't going to go far from the boss. We continued up the hill and the next thing I hear the rest of the herd racing through the chute from behind us. They flowed around us and Storm spun in front of me again leaping sideways and backwards in an effort to go with the rest of the horses. I was again able to manage him and keep him from running. We ended up facing each other and I took a moment to really get his focus back and reconnect with him again. He really wanted to go with them so badly, and I was just not allowing him to get distracted. In frustration he actually reared up in front of me. There was no threat that he was going to leap away, or anything, but he had to take the energy and go somewhere. He reared twice before he got quiet, lowered his head, snorted and licked and chewed. Once he worked through all of that I knew we could continue on. I was jittery, but was trying to breathe through it to make sure that I wasn't contributing to the excited energy. We made our way through the herd milling around and out the gate with Storm behaving himself quite well.
I had everything out and waiting and groomed him up in the barn. He stood quietly mostly ground tied for the process, which is a great accomplishment. I don't really leave him, but I am able to work around him without him wandering off. We head down to the arena where the footing was really perfect from the rain we had on Sunday afternoon. We got started on the lunge line and he was putting in a pretty good amount of effort. He still did not want to canter to the right, which I was ok with. He was really finding balance anyway, so a complete upward transition wasn't necessary. I was able to encourage him to put more speed and effort into each gait without breaking into the upward transition, which achieves the same result. He was still pulling out to the right, and almost wandering off the circle completely, but I know that it is only part of him finding his own balance. We switched to the left and the pulling out stopped, and he was able to canter once without too much trouble. He was working within the gaits really well, so decided it was about time to ride.
I got up and we began working to the left to start out on my tough side but his easy side. I was feeling him giving me signals that he was getting things right, I could feel the ball and the box several times. He was also really giving me something between posture 2B and posture 3 fairly easily. I was still having trouble knowing when he was in 2B and when he was in 3, but I was also beginning to feel the box, if he is in 2B the box won't be there. He seemed to be doing very well, though, and was really handing himself without too much trouble. I worked on making the circle round, and trying to keep him from bulging out or falling inward and making the corrections as soon as I could feel something happening. Knowing when the box has tilted, rolling the ball, and tipping the T out of balance takes time and practice. By the time it gets all the way to the T the other two parts have long since moved. Being able to feel it before it happens is quite a challenge.
We finally made a smooth transition to work to the right, and reset our circle to the right side again. He eventually flipped the ball over, and so I started working on getting straightness on the right side. We made a few laps, and suddenly he spooked forward, away from the back side of the arena. I got thrown backwards, but stayed pretty well seated, and he stopped pretty much right away, and so I was able to get right back to work. As we came around the other side of the arena I looked to see if something was there, but couldn't see anything. I thought I heard noises from below the hill, but couldn't see anything. At that point we just kept working away.
I wanted to practice going in and out of the gate to attempt to start trail riding and getting out of the arena again, so I left the gate wide open when we came in. I changed our route and began riding down the length of the arena and then heading back again set up in such a way that I should be able to gently curve right out the gate. He did well going the length of the arena and maintaining a straight line, and then walked right out of the gate and seemed to get a little excited, the scenery was changing! I turned him around and headed right back into the arena again and we did another lap of the length of the arena to walk out the gate again, and do a nice circle and then back into the arena. Lather, rinse, repeat. He did well as we practice, and then I took him back into the shade where I dismounted again. It will just take time and practice, the challenge for me is to act like I'm still in the arena when we leave the arena.
I took him up and untacked at the picnic table so that we weren't blocking the barn while Rachel was feeding, and then let him have his dinner. I did the first whither tracing on him, and I couldn't seem to get the flex curve centered, but at least I had something to start with. It seemed like he was flatter on the right side than he was on the left, which wouldn't be surprising necessarily. Since his right is his more challenging side, it could make sense, but I will have to verify that with Kirsten.
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11.06.19: AT Lesson: More Monkey Stance