Sunday, January 5, 2014

There was snow, white snow

The first week of the new year and things seem to be looking up, minus the temperatures, which are unfortunately approaching unwanted single digits and negative wind chills. I'm preparing to loose two days of training while everyone hunkers down and tries to stay warm.

In something out of Rip VanWinkle, I got to the barn on New Years Day and all my just-cleaned saddles and bridles (everything gets wiped off post ride) were covered in what looked like a year-long buildup of dust and dirt. It almost looked like I stumbled back in my tack room after a year's hiatus.

I was a little miffed about it, but privately, I took it as a sign that whatever happened in 2013 is long done and over; and that this is a new year and a brave new world.

The new year also feels like someone flipped a switch on my horses. They've all been working exceptionally well.

Sinari has been riding great, she's seems to have blown past a bunch of issues, and now it's just refocusing in on the basics. We've been working transitions in, out and between gaits. I wish the weather was more cooperative for fitness, but after the freezing cold is slop. I can't knowingly run horses in the mud and risk a tendon.

The other fun variation I've been playing with is riding the different movements within those transitions. It's definitely challenging especially as you try to press the balance, connection and keep the half halts in order. Her piaffe/passage work is becoming stronger which gives some exciting moments (I wish I had more ground help to operate a whip, my timing is off) and I wish I the tempi's would come back in order, which I'm sure they will when things truly get going again.

We finished out the week with just stretching and loosening, which with the impending weather is good set up for keeping mobile despite the likelihood of being stall bound.

Danzador is quickly stealing the show. He's turned in stellar work for being very young. The focus is creating, keeping and driving the balance up in the paces and through the movements. Even though he's gaining strength I definitely see him as a good candidate for the upper level work. He's smart, talented, willing and is developing really expressive gaits. I seriously cannot wait for him to start working changes, I think they're going to be fun for him.

In the last few weeks he's been schooling baby half pass, solid shoulder in/ haunches in, walk-canter-walk transitions, 10 meter circles, medium to collected, walk pirouettes and some half steps. It's hard work for a young horse, mentally and physically. Mentally, he can take the pressure with very little issue and it's important in this stage to introduce the expectations of the pressure and work in a fair way.

Because he's so willing and ready to do the work, it's mostly play with the emphasis on developing the strength and carrying power. His old evasions, going behind the vertical, locking his ribs and running sometimes still come into play especially when he's tired.

Interlaced with the riding is lunging days, just days where he can purely stretch. It's been a huge help developing his hind end and creating expression through cavaletti and a few other techniques.

Overall, I'm happy, but it's only week one, 51 more to go.

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