Bending Right

Last time I rode Howdy, I noted to myself that standing still was not really his thing.   So today, I sat on him while I taught a lesson.

IMG_9421We stood still a while, then walked in circles a lot and did some more halting and did some bending.  Actually, I wasn’t paying that much attention to him.  I was mostly focusing on Jean and Sammy as they worked on cavaletti and transitions.  This morning I read this very nice blog post about Will Faudree and young horses on the USEA site and it got me to thinking about bending in general and the inside leg to outside rein connection and I was just fooling around with it.

Meanwhile, Jean and Sammy had some nice canter work:

Toward the end of Jean’s lesson, Howdy figured out how to bend right.  All of a sudden he noticed he could shorten the right side of his body and lengthen the left half.  I should mention that I’m actually quite stoked about this.  As you may know, Howdy has a slight club foot on his right front and often horses are not as handy at bending toward their club foot side.  Knowing this, I was prepared for it to be a long, slow process.  Turns out, to get a good start on it, it took about an hour of just playing around and allowing it to happen.  Huh.  There’s a nice surprise.

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Well, its not a right bend, but its kinda cute anyway.

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The Cheeky Monkey

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Howdy in a cheeky moment

The Iowa Horse Fair is next weekend and I am going to present several sessions whose topics will be jumping, eventing and foxhunting.  Fun flyer.  I’ve presented jumping seminars before and I’ve learned that while it is interesting for people to watch an example of very good jumping, they are fascinated, entertained and amused if you present them with an imperfect horse and show them how to react to mistakes and how to train the horses.

And so Howdy and Bravado are going to the Horse Fair to learn how to jump, in public.  Both horses were racing at Prairie Meadows last summer and Bravado has started the very basics of jumping.  Here’s his big accomplishment for today:

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Yep, those are 1′ jumps with placing poles.  Wheeeee!

I spent a pleasant hour today helping him to learn how to navigate these jumps in a relaxed manner, and at the end we were both grinning.  Now mind you, plenty left to learn at the Horse Fair.  We never were balanced enough to do two jumps in a row.

Meanwhile, Howdy and I yesterday started with simple poles on the ground between standards.  We started out walking over them and the first few times were actually quite dramatic, with crookedness and a bit of balking and then some over-exuberance.  By the end he was trotting over them in a relaxed manner, about which I was very pleased.  I untacked him and left him loose in the sandy indoor to roll.  I came back from putting his tack away and he was on the other side of the arena.  He was just shaking off from a roll and when he saw me he put his ears up and started cantering to me.  I thought that was charming, of course, anybody would.  But he won my heart, the cheeky thing, when he altered his course so that he would canter right over one of the poles on the ground on his way to me – ears up with a “look what I can do” expression.  This one’s gonna be fun.

Back to our regularly-scheduled Thoroughbred

Howdy had his fourth eye appointment at ISU (wheeeee!) and needed to have more eye treatments, three times a day.  We decided to take him with us to the Flint Hills of Kansas where we were joint meeting with several other Midwest foxhunts.  Foxhunting is always very serious business.

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Um, ok, maybe not always serious…

I rode Bravado on the hunts during the weekend and he was great.

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Jay is riding Annie, the grey horse and I am to his left on Bravado.  Our friends MFH Monte Antisdel and HRH Diane Antisdel are to my left.

Meanwhile, Howdy hung out in his stall while we hunted.  He was completely unfazed by the other horses leaving their stalls and getting on the trailer.  He looked up from his hay, watched the other horses walk away, mumbled, “Have a good day at work, suckers!” and put his head back in the hay.

Much to his surprise, despite the fact that it was snowing when we got home from the hunt, it was his turn to go out for a hack.Howdy

It was a beautiful snow, with huge flakes and no wind.  We went out with our friend Holly Barrett and her horse.  They gave us several leads through creeks and Howdy did fine.  He led, he followed, he left the other horse, he stopped well, he went forward well and just didn’t have much of a problem with anything.  What a fun horse!

Our goal is the RRP in Kentucky in October, but the next outing is the Iowa Horse Fair next weekend.  I’m speaking there and he and Bravado will be demo horses.  Gonna be a good time.