I’m really happy to say that we’re getting some real work done, finally!
Smokey and I have been fiddle-farting around for so long that it feels strange to get on him and just expect a ride where I don’t have to do a whole lot of thinking about him. We still have a few disagreements about speed, turning right and the “gate,” but we are much more in tune in general than we ever have been before – In the saddle, at least.
He’s such an animal on the ground, I just don’t even know how to handle him.
Elisa mentioned that she thought Smokey went better in an English saddle due to the contact that he can feel much easier from your leg (you know, western saddles have those big fenders between you and the horse). So I swapped out my trusty good western saddle and have been riding in the little brown one I picked up for cheap on eBay. Which it’s not exactly my favorite saddle, it’s getting the job done. I have much more leg contact with him with the smaller fenders and then overall layout of the saddle. Oh, and I still have a horn. Because I’m a scardey cat.
I purchased a grab strap for my English saddle that should be in this weekend, so I may brave the tiny tack to get some feel for how well I’d be suited to English disciplines. I also bought a new pair of paddock boots (Ariats, naturally) that I’m in love with. My last pair mysteriously had one boot disappear and are a half size too small for my newly renovated feet (yeah, my toes got longer when the bunion got removed. Weird, right?). Basically, I’ve been on a “buy everything you can think of and then look at the bill later” spree. I need to get that under control.
New boots, please ignore hideous socks.
Enough of that, more pony talk.
Smokey also got a load of some new wicker furniture that was set near the arena. Clearly they don’t have comfy chairs in the wild, because he was all snorty and spooked but it. But in an adorable way. He walked up to it (with much coaxing) and upon realizing that nothing about it is a Smokey-eating monster, tried to eat it himself. He’s like a toddler – he’ll put anything into his mouth. The furniture posed no further threat to our riding after that. Much unlike the cell phone he spooked at when we were finished riding. He’s clearly never seen that before (it’s literally what takes all these pictures)…
This is Smokey’s reaction to the furniture in the arena.
So this past weekend, Mary and Anna came out to visit and see how far Smokes has come. It was unanimously agreed that he’s come a long way. At the canter, Anna astutely pointed out that he has a ton of power (which he does). That’s partially why I’m still such a weenie about his canter. He’s got that motor in his back end that I saw when Elisa was laying him down, and he sure knows it. I’ve been having issues picking up the left lead. So with and audience, of course, I decided to try something new and see if he would correct himself around a turn. As I found out, Smokey is not much for counter-cantering.
We made it around the turn and within a few strides, I felt him bowing up and all the sudden I was holding his face up. I quickly sat back and brought him to a hasty trot and asked for the left lead again. This time I got it.
While I was exploding sweat from the minor freakout I was having, I actually did applaud myself for being cool and confident enough to ask him right back off (Elisa, if you’re reading this, take note!).
We’re still experiencing some of the “oh that’s the gate I came in once, I think I can drift towards it and maybe just go out it” at the barn end of the arena. I’ve been a bit heavy handed in correcting that, but I’m trying to rely more on my legs and perhaps try carrying a crop with me to really get after him, if need be. I have also been working down at the far end of the arena a lot, and realize I’m not doing myself any favors by avoiding the area entirely. Soooooo, this weekend we have two things for me to work on: get him less gate sour and do so without using my hands as much.
Oh, and we need to wash and wax the trailer. I say “we” like Smokey is going to help. Right.
HAHAHA! Mom, that’s HIIIIILARIOUS that you’d think I would help!
Thanks to Anna for taking this picture!