Thursday, May 8

KSC Spring Horsemanship Challenge: Week 5 Wrapup

Well I had an awesome recap post all done up, but Blogger ate it. If it somehow miraculously reappears, I will post it. Instead, this week, it's more of a general summary. Last week the weather was awesome, and I was able to ride Betty outside again. She is starting to settle into our rides much more quickly and has been improving with each ride. I've been focusing a lot on circles; I'm making sure she stretches her neck and responds to my leg correctly. The payoff is a horse who has learned to lengthen her topline and take longer strides. Her days of jarring pony trot are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Our circles are getting more balanced, and she is learning how to relax into the work. I'm still struggling with getting her to step cleanly into her turnarounds; she wants to push back off her front leg to start the turn. She's so compact and athletic, it's hard to catch her in time to fix the mistake. None of my normal exercises have worked, but setting it aside for a couple weeks and focusing on her response to my legs meant I've been able to approach it from further away. Spiraling in and out on a circle has been a fixture in our rides, and, by improving my timing in the spiral in, I've been able to help Betty understand that a squeeze from me means step forward and over. Betty's "git er done" attitude with take us far working cattle, but reining requires precision. She can learn it. I just have to ride well enough to teach her. Slowing down and looking at tiny details is not my favorite thing. It takes a level of concentration that is sometimes hard to achieve when I'm sneaking rides into the middle of my work day, but the payoff is totally worth it. Our lope has improved by leaps and bounds. I introduced walk to canter transitions this week and was pleased with how quickly she grasped the concept. We are still not where I want to be, and I need to put in some serious time working this month so she will be ready for the clinic. She's finding her rhythm more easily, but it's still a little disorganized and tense. I'm hoping the weather cooperates, because she seems to have a much easier time when we ride in the outdoor arena. Either way, hours in the saddle is the way to address this problem. Our rides have been a bit scattered and sporadic; work has been crazy. I'm really hoping to stick to my original plan of five rides a week for the coming month. We're headed to a cattle clinic on Sunday, so I'll get a lot of riding hours logged there. I'm excited to get her back in the sorting pen to see how she does.

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