The weather over this past week led to a few challenging rides. What can I say, the horse doesn't love 40mph winds and driving rain/snow. She was super keyed up from the weather on Wednesday night, but I handled it the best I could and used a bit of reverse psychology to encourage Lucy to do the right thing. I first let her zoom a bit in the indoor and she got most of her crazy out. Then I rode her just at the walk and we worked on turns on the haunches/forehand, backing up with her head down low, and "side passing", or at least our best attempt! Part of our homework from Morgan was to get Lucy moving as much laterally as I could and I did my best to deliver the goods. I feel confident that Lucy is better today than she was a week ago, and that's all I can ask for!
The week had a couple of setbacks, though. On Saturday, Cinnamon came back out and we were both in good spirits, expecting another wonderful ride. Lucy had other plans, though. She started out ok but as Cinnamon asked her for a bit more effort, she lashed out in several uncharacteristically (even for her) nasty tantrums. Lucy was extremely tight through her whole body, and was annoyed that other horses kept coming into the ring and then leaving. Her brain had about zero functionality and though she softened a few times into the contact and moved nicely, she would lose her focus a few strides later and throw a few bucks in a row. Now, she does a lot of bad stuff as you all know, but full-on bucking is not really one of her normal tricks. She was kicking out rather furiously and Cinnamon and I had a ten second conference and decided that this ride was not going to be productive. Though I am normally all for riding through the crap and ending on a positive note, and I also tend to think that Lucy's outbursts are attitude related and not a pain issue, that day was different and both Cinnamon and I felt it was best to call it quits and try another day. It was very clear that something big was bothering Lucy. Either she was coming into heat or sore somewhere and she was clearly telling us, THIS HURTS.
We untacked her and cooled her out and I felt very upset about the whole thing because the week had been going well and I didn't like this big change in my horse, but as I have done many many times, I decided to let that day go and try again on Sunday.
Sunday rolled around and I was not excited to ride. I expected Lucy to be very bad. To give her the best chance of a positive ride, I lunged first and let her trot for a good long time until she was nice and swingy and fluid. I also wanted to make sure she was sound because when Cinnamon was riding, she looked a bit foot sore to me. Well, she looked great on the lunge line and seemed to appreciate being able to move out like that. When she was nice and warmed up, I hopped on and had a nice ride. Lucy was very responsive but light, and picked up where we left off with the lateral stuff easily. She is a very smart horse, I will give her that! 80% of the ride was at the walk, just getting her light in the bridle and responsive to my legs, and then we finished with a bit of trot work that was also fairly decent. Nothing groundbreaking or beautiful, but not bad!
Yesterday I rode in the outdoor for the first time in a long time. I lunged first because the neighbour's son was out in their yard through some trees throwing a lacrosse ball at a wall, which was making a very loud BANG. I was concerned that Lu would be scared of that because that neighbour is in the "scary" corner of the ring. She didn't have any problems with it, but was scared of another neighbour using a chain saw. If it's not one thing, it's another! She got over the whole thing quickly and warmed up very well on the lunge and neither the chain saw or the BANG noise were an issue after that. I do love that about her - she can spook at things and be silly but once she realises they aren't a threat, she isn't bothered by them.
I got on and we did the usual basic walk exercises to start, circling often and doing serpentines through the ring. Each time I changed direction, I almost asked her to do a haunches in to move her hind quarters over first, then move forward. She took it all quite well and didn't put up a fight. We trotted around and she was a pleasure to ride! Then Maddy took some video for me after Lucy got a short break in the middle of the ring. Well, Princess Horse thought she was finished so when I asked her to go back to work, she wasn't pleased and pinned her ears straight back at me. She didn't do anything else, though, which is an improvement from the usual kicking out and other sass. She settled down and was very good. We haven't cantered all week, which Morgan recommended until we could get the trot together, but she offered up the most lovely, quiet canter to the left (which is the bad direction!) and I was like, ok, we will see where this goes. Well, it was really, REALLY nice and I am just so glad I trusted her enough to let her continue. She felt round and light under me and was so polite about the whole thing. She felt balanced (or at least more balanced than she has in the past) and didn't throw a single bronco move. She came back down to the trot nicely and then I thought, crap, this means we have to canter to the right!
So off we went, but not until I had her going at the trot nicely, of course. A few strides into it, she tried to pull the reins out of my hands but I sat on my butt and elevated my inside hand to prevent her from taking the reins, and she sat back on her hocks and picked her own front end up, rebalanced and continued on without escalating or getting witchy about it!
THAT WAS HUGE.
At that point, the whole state of Texas could have fit inside my smile because I was thrilled.
Tonight Morgan is coming out for training ride #2 and I really hope Lucy is good so she can see how much progress we've made this week. I took all of our homework very seriously and I hope we will continue to improve.