I had lessons in town today. It was a pretty nice day. Not the normal lesson routine. Daf has been doing something funky with her right front. She shortens the stride, and sometimes doesn't swing it forward well and will kind of stab it into the ground. Now this is a very athletic girl...so you gotta wonder. Not sure what it going on. It isn't consistent. It is intermittent. Gave her owner a lunge lesson on her. It improved, but didn't completely disappear. Put another student up, and it lessened, but would still show up now and then. Had the owner just ride her loose, and forward. Don't worry about position, or anything, just go free and forward. She did better out strolling around the barns than in the arena.
The other student and I went to get Top. She was going to have a lunge lesson on him. She groomed him, and I tacked him up. He was even good, and held his feet up for her. She's 11. Apparently he likes children. A LOT. I had her lead him to the arena. (Yes, we took peppermint treats). I lunged him for a bit to see where his head was. He was very good. Her father had to give her a leg up to get on Top. A little bigger step up than she is used to. I was actually impressed she got her toe to the stirrup...up on her own just wasn't happening. Maybe next time.
We started slow at the walk to let her get the feel of him. She is smiling. Says she loves his walk. So, I have her start to pick him up. Make him round up a bit, and go to the bit. It took more leg and contact than she is used to. It took a minute to get the feel. Once she had it, she was on. We went with this forward, connected swingy walk for awhile. I said when she felt ready to ask for the trot. (I'm the dope on the rope at the moment. Just there as a safety net). She asks for the trot. Top wont trot. She asks again, more firmly...he gives her more walk. I take a good look at him. He's worried. He is walking on eggs. I say, "He's babysitting. He's worried...who knew." She laughs, and pats him, tells him he's fine. He halts, knickers for a treat. She whips one out and gives it to him, before I can say, "No." I tell her to make him go again. She does...he makes a quarter circle, halts, knickers for a treat. UHM...NO. I say, "No treat, push him up, and go. Make two circle...halt then give him a treat. You halt...don't let him decide to halt." She does this. Top now seems to be on the same page as us.
She walks a couple more circles, asks him to trot. No go. I tell her to hold the reins, and grab strap...ask him to go. I take a connection on the line, and lift the tip of the lunge whip and cluck to him. He goes into a trot. Well, Top's version of a western pleasure jog. I have her halt...give him a treat. Tell her to push him back up, mean it...and go immediately to posting. She does, and he 'jogs'. I tell her to squeeze every up stride...and he loosened up a little and had some forward. She is thrilled. Starts to laugh...pats him and says, "He's like a giant Shad. I love him." Kind of choked me up. He is kind of a giant Shad when he's on. This is the kid that could sit Shad's extended trot at 6.5 or 7 years old. And Shad could extend. He'd look like a speed boat cutting across a lake. Haunches buried, and front end elevated and just snapping out the front. She loves forward. Now Shad was a big 14.2h, maybe 14.3h if he needed his feet done, and Top is 16.2h...slight difference. I think there will be more lunge lessons for her on Top. Top likes this kid thing. He drops his head, for brushing, is all attentive and quiet.
When we finished with both Daf and Top, on to Maisa. Maisa is now on about 5-6lbs of grain a day. I'm thinking it is a good thing. One of my students went out and got him. I see them round the side of the barn...and he is just all loose, swinging gumby horse. He looks like he's walking in slow motion, but my student is walking at a good clip. He's all blinky, eyes half lidded...looking like a stoner.
I lunged him. He was a good boy. One of my old students comes into the arena. Now, I'll be perfectly honest here...Maisa's stopping makes me nuts. I get irritated. Not fair of me, I know. But I start to get mad at him. And that just isn't going to help anything. I ask if she wants to ride him. She's more than happy to get on. She rode him after I rode him the other day, and loves how he moves...when he moves. lol I'd forgotten a whip. Of course. I'd packed a whip the last two rides, and the halting had pretty much stopped. Now and then, but pretty much gone. So, he starts out pretty good. Then he starts gawking around and halting. He is in love with a little paint mare that was in the arena.
So, I grab a lunge whip and help from the ground. She got him going, and then we went to trot. I've never seen him trot with a rider as I'm the only one that has been on him. OMG...it was beautiful. Heather just posted along and let him go. She's very quiet. Once the stop was off, he just went. Free and forward. Once he gets the idea of carrying and connecting it will be gorgeous. I'm so pleased. The first time she rode him, she could see I was getting irritated. Kind of cocked her head looking at me. I said, "You want up?" She laughed and said, "Yeah, of course." She gets along well with him and likes him. Doesn't have any expectations, is just enjoying the ride.