Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Today's Ride

I am sooo lucky. Phantom is infinitley patient with me. I have been ridiculously fortunate with the animals that have entered my life. Kiyara was one of a kind, Lacey the sweetest of dogs, Phantom is my lovable "Goober Boy," and Indy is a smaller, fluffier Goober Boy.

Phantom is and has always been the best "report card" of my riding. If I get it right, he immediately does what is wanted. Usually our struggles are my adjustments to release tension and put myself in the correct position. I haven't taken a lesson for several years now, so I continue to work on my "list" of reminders from the last lesson I took from Cathi. Mainly I try to get Phantom on the bit moving forward and round, and attempt leg yields and shoulders-in.

My current routine is to work at the walk until I get a proximity of a connection. It seems like it takes forever while Phantom goes through his Arabian-at-the-alert stage. When I get that feeling that the reins are "coming from the bottom of my fingers" then we've attained that connection from bit to elbow. From this point I can ask for a trot and usually get a pretty good depart. I generally begin with a posting trot and, depending on my position (again), we can continue with connection and Phantom's back round like a "beachball" -- or I can completely ruin it all and we're back to Arabian-at-the-alert at a faster gait. *sigh*

Phantom's canter has long been an issue. Cathi advised me that he bulges right with his midsection and tips his nose left. All this bulging and tipping blocks his straight, forward motion. So I work on getting me in a balanced position so I can straighten Phantom and when and if that's accomplished we get some nice work. My efforts have paid off, since Phantom's canter departs have improved and he manages to keep the canter instead of falling out. He used to do this Mixmaster thing and it was all I could do to get the canter. Even Cathi struggled when Phantom was in a mood. We've progressed to the point that I can canter a 10 meter circle.

We usually take a brief breather after our canter work before attempting a sitting trot. Now, Phantom usually begins with a lovely trot. However, it quickly disintegrates because of me. Once I get myself situated correctly, my equine report card returns to his lovely trot and we work on serpentines, leg yields and shoulders-in. On those days that rider's dream about we glide around the arena. Phantom is connected through a soft hand directly to my elbow and on occasion has a foamy mouth. A minor shift of weight and we change direction. He is a willing and alert partner and I am relaxed and kind.

Today wasn't one of those float-on-air days, but we eventually got to a good point where we had each worked out of our tension and moved as a team.

I generally finish our ride with a stretchy posting trot on a long rein, and then a bit of a walk. Phantom's reward for a job well done is a bit of grazing in the open area. The facility is encircled with fencing and the gate is kept closed. Not that our horses are inclined to go anywhere with their heads buried in the grass. The winter turnouts are grazed over and it will be a month or so before the summer turnouts have regrown enough. So the horses love it when we let them loose to assist with mowing the open area. Phantom's pasture mate Guinness was also loose, so the pair hung out around the round pen where our newest arrival is turned out for the time being.

So all in all, a good day for both of us.

Works for me. :-)

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