Wow, today was a doozy. I went to the barn expecting to get a short ride in before the usual Sunday lessons start. What ended up happening was nothing short of exhausting.
To start off, a gal I ride with on occasion was there and asked if I wanted to go out on the track. Of course I do! We also decided it would be a fine day to set up some trotting poles- you know, get the children nice and tired and then our walk around the track will be a breeze.
Its the thought that counts, right?
So, I fetched Ben from his pasture (thank you for being so good to catch, buddy!), tacked him up, and proceeded to do my long stirrup warm up. My friend was already well into schooling, so she was basically just waiting for us. I will say that this was my best day yet with the longer stirrups - I didn't feel as though my hips were going to split open at any moment.
I shortened my stirrups, popped through the poles a few times, and then off we went into the wild.
Things did not go nearly as smoothly or quietly as they did before. For one, all the horses were turned out, and their paddocks flank the track. Additionally, I decided, probably stupidly, to try going in the opposite direction from what we did on Wednesday. That meant we got to walk alongside all the horse paddocks and then had to walk away from them as the track curved. Ben was pretty sure he'd rather stay by the paddocks, and that everything on the curve was spooky. He got a little "up" but also grew roots. I waited him out, and nudged him on. His buddy was equally spooky.
We had a couple more incidents just like that but on the opposite side- one big spook at lord knows what. All he did though was look, shiver, and halt. Good boy.
We made it round, and my friend had had enough excitement- her pony was a little spookier than my guy -so we headed back to the barn. Ben, already habit forming, thought we were done when we got back on the grounds. I decided to change the plan and walk around the barn back to the indoor arena, and walk him in there a bit, just so he'd not expect the track walk routine.
Once in there another friend of mine was just getting on her very green horse, while she was doing her ground work, I gave Ben a break while we watched another horse longe. When that horse was done, my friend got on her mare. She has been having problems making her go forward consistently- the mare will balk a little. So instead of setting her up for that, I had her follow me around the arena at a walk and trot, which turned out to be a great excercise for the mare.
Ben wasn't exactly thrilled with my idea. As it turns out, he decided that far gate through which we exit to ride out to the track was calling his name. He definitely got stickier and a little sour himself. So we rode through it - he even kicked out at my leg a couple of times! That just made me a little irritated than I normally get, so I made him go over the poles again too, which we hadn't made much use of prior to anyway.
In a way I think I probably brought this on with doing too much in one day - but it was also good to see what happens to his ethic when he's tired or thinks he's done. I don't want to make a habit of riding a young horse too much, but I also don't want him to think he goes for a set period of time and can be a jerk if we ride over that limit.
In the end he worked out of it- once I had him soft, changing directions at a trot, doing 20 m circles (all with our friend following us), I called it good.
So - once again no cantering today. Tomorrow, cantering will come tomorrow...