Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First Lesson Back with Suzi, and Farrier Day!

(Ringo relaxing after his lesson)

Yesterday I really kicked in summer in style by having my first lesson with Suzi Gornall in almost 2 years! I've known Suzi since I was 8 years old and would attribute her teaching to pretty much everything I like about my riding. Especially after the rocky winter I had, I was really looking forward to getting back to having lessons with her and seeing if she could help get me back on track. Well, after yesterday, I think she's going to be able to do it!

I started out with Ringo first, and within a few minutes of watching me trot him around on the flat she had a pretty good idea of what his issues were and how to fix them. Just like I was talking about in my last post, she thinks that he's lost pushing muscles in his hind end, which is making him more anxious about leaving the ground (which can lead to the rushing into the stop behavior he's been showing). The real clarifying moment was, after she'd gotten me to move him forward into a much bigger and pushing working trot than I normally do (I felt like I was flying around the arena!), she asked me to go to medium trot on top of that. I asked and he felt like he actually lengthened quite well, but when I asked to bring him back to the original trot, he nearly wiped out because his hind legs were so far out behind him. So, we kept working those transitions at the trot, and then again at the canter, getting more and more greedy with both the collection phase and the extension phase. And what a difference! By the end of the ride he was forward, springy, and almost heavy in the hand (if you know Ringo, this is pretty amazing). He felt even on both reins and all four legs, and I really could feel his hind end jumping up to meet his front. Cool! We jumped an x a few times in that canter, and I could just feel that his attitude felt different and more confident. A couple of times he even went for a nice, balanced, more open distance (which again, knowing him in the past few months, is quite a change!). Suzi is confident that, with a few weeks of concentrated riding like that, he'll be back on track. Hopefully!

I then rode Kiki, who was also quite good. For her, the goal was to slow everything down until her focus was more on me and my aids than on everything else going on around us. It was a good day to practice this because there were people in the gazebo and out in the woods, so she was definitely a bit turned on. By the end, though, she had some really nice moments, especially at the canter. As with Dually, I need to add more transitions within the gait with her (once I've gotten her slowed and focused, where with Ringo I need to go out and get him moving!) to start putting a little more pressure on her to make her stronger. I'm excited to jump with Suzi next time!

(Good girl!)

After the lessons were over, both ponies (and all the other horses on the farm) got their feet done. Poor Phil (our farrier) was here for 11 hours in the truly sweltering heat we had yesterday, doing all 15 horses we have on property right now. By the last horse (Gibraltar, our 27-year old ex-logging horse who went on to be short-listed for the '92 Olympics in Eventing, who then went on to teach everyone under the sun and their cousin how to ride, and who is the official King of Black Brook Farm) he was totally torched. But, as usual, he did an amazing job and I was really pleased with how he did Ringo and Kiki's feet for a first time. Excellent!

(Phil works on Gibraltar, who is probably the hardest horse to shoe in the barn because, at 27, he's so stiff that it's really hard for him to bend his hocks long enough for Phil to do what he needs to do. But man, Gib tries hard! He's such an amazing horse)

(The best place on earth)


Rachel said...

Girl, I love home too. and if my home included THAT house/farm and 15 horses (one of which was SHORT LISTED FOR THE OLYMPICS) I would be even more homesick than I am right now. I'm glad you got home safely and I hope you enjoy your summer!

Heidi said...

Does your family run a boarding stable? I thought you kept your horses at home. It looks beautiful!

Kaitlin said...

I'm actually also having the same problem with my thoroughbred, with him being dead in his hind end. I'd love to hear any tips you have on fixing that issue! :)

This may be an odd question, But can I ask you where you got that saddle pad you are using on kiki in the pictures? I've been looking for a good square saddle pad, and can't seem to find any good ones!

Enjoy your time at home! :)

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks guys!

Heidi, we run a co-op style barn, where Pony Club kids can keep their ponies here in exchange for doing chores like mucking and feeding. We also have a few retirees and both Dually (my older horse) and my dad's old horse are still on property with new lessors. It's pretty awesome because it means I only have to do one chore (morning feeding) plus night check a day!

Kaitlin, the tag fell off but I think it's a Rider International from Dover. I'd also recommend Poly Pads; they're completely square (they don't have the contour up front to match the line of the knee flap) but they're a great thickness, they last forever, and they don't slip at all. And yes, I'll definitely be updating regularly as I try to get Ringo feeling stronger and better than ever!

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