Tuesday is flatwork day for Reed and Titan. Because I only have two days a week with them, I tend to spend one day on flatwork and the next on jumping to balance their education.
First I helped out with another QH, Jenzo You A Honey. Honey is one of my favourite mares, a flashy chestnut three-year-old with a butt the size of a double-decker bus. Seriously, for her age, the filly has super muscular hindquarters. I was lunging her and it took me a while to get used to the short, smooth Western movement, as opposed to the floating extension of the warmbloods, Nooitgedachters and thoroughbreds. She was really good though, and effortlessly picked up the correct lead whilst loping on both sides. Honey’s not backed yet but she looks like she’ll be an awesome ride.
Next, it was Reed’s turn. He was happily stuffing his face with hay when I arrived, oblivious to his impending workout, and looked delighted to see me, as usual. All I ever do is make him work his spotty little bum off, but I’m human, which is enough to make Reed happy. He walked next to me as quietly as a gelding, being stunning little Reed.
I want to improve Reed’s frame and acceptance of the bit, so I started by lunging him in side reins attached to the cavesson. Weirdly, Reed didn’t seem to understand the pressure on his nose at all. He braced his neck against it, almost strangling himself, and tore around leaning on the cavesson even though the side reins weren’t that short – his nose was still well in front of the vertical. Puzzled and not wanting him to learn to lean, I took the cavesson off and replaced it with his bridle, attaching the side reins to his bit. Immediately, Reed dropped his nose, arched his neck and carried himself properly with only a light contact on the side reins. Strange – I’ll have to ask the Mutterer about that.
I gave him about ten minutes’ walk, trot and canter before saddling him up and putting the poor guy to work. Today was transitions. Transitions, transitions, transitions of every conceivable type, repeated as many times as it took for him to get them right. It was only about forty minutes’ work, but Reed had to focus for every moment, and it tired him out thoroughly. His walk-canter-walk transitions are brilliant, so I focused on the smaller transitions from gait to gait and within gaits. Trot-walk-trot, trot-canter-trot, walk-halt-walk, and then a variety of transitions within gaits. We worked on collected, extended and medium walk; collected, extended and working trot; and extended and working canter. I got about a circle of something that might someday be a collected canter, but to be fair we’re both a bit new to that one.
Throughout, I focused hard on Reed’s frame and broke up the routine with halts from walk going straight into rein back to teach him not to flop onto my hands the moment he stopped. We also cantered a few figures of eight to practice simple changes of leg, since after all the transitioning he was still focused and willing, before ending the day on a high note. Poor Reed was dripping with sweat. I was pleased with what we accomplished; on Thursday we can have a nice pop around some jumps to take a break from all the focusing, and maybe I can beg for a hack sometime to vary his routine a bit.
I only had time for a short session with Titan. There was a lot going on around us with a photo shoot in a paddock near the arena that had all the mares running about with excitement, and Cointreau d’Or in the paddock nearby decided to take a long pee right near the fence (nothing is more attractive to a stallion than a urinating mare; thank heavens men aren’t the same), so his mind wasn’t really on the job. Still, he didn’t buck or run away. We warmed up quickly in walk and trot; his halts were really awesome today and he stood still for a few seconds on a loose rein every time I asked him to. We did a bit of collected and extended trot – Titan has the most amazing extended trot, it feels like he touches the ground every ten metres or so – and moved onto canter.
To the left, Titan was really awesome. He kept it slow, stayed off my hands, and performed a series of nice, calm, consistent circles. Going to the right he picked up the right lead a lot easier than normal, but he flopped back into a trot a few times and rushed a bit, leaning on my hands. He did give me a few circles to the right quite willingly, and he bent correctly with his hind legs following straight after his front legs and no mad unintended leg-yields or that kind of nonsense. It’s just a matter of doing some polishing to get him going nicely to the right as well. Then, we can work on shortening and lengthening the strides and he’ll be ready for canter work whilst jumping.
As for my own Horde, they had the day off and lolled about eating grass and being horses. Magic is bored out of his mind after a long two months of inactivity due to his injuries. He chews stuff, chases dogs, runs about like a mad loon and occasionally removes his bandages, just for entertainment. Methinks we will have some fireworks when I get back on. His wound is healing nicely though, should be fine in a week or two, tops.
Arwen is enjoying her last day of rest; tomorrow I will be back her saddle and we’ll start working hard on dressage. We’re going to our first dressage show in February to ride Preliminary Tests 1 and 2, and while they’re well within Arwie’s abilities, I need to learn my tests. I find memorising a jumping track an absolute nightmare, so dressage tests will probably be a bit tricky, especially with two such similar tests. Perhaps I will be able to recruit a reader from somewhere.
Watch out, dressage world. Here we come.