A double lesson day - Toby followed by Hola/Ollie. Let's go in order.
Toby was finicky, fussy and annoyed. Perhaps it was the weather? It was pouring rain all day long and he just hates it when he doesn't get to go outside and roll. So he was looking for any excuse. It started with the saddle being put on too far back. That had him snarling until it was remedied. Then, and he's justified in this, he didn't like the saddle. My Albion saddle had some stitching break and now needs a panel to be sewn back on so it's back to the old saddle until the Albion is repaired. And the final straw was riding in the indoor arena. He was just a big grump. His back was tight, it took a long time to get him to relax and it felt too much like work.
We have a show this coming weekend so we were practicing the tests, and practicing and practicing. We rode for quite sometime because we just weren't that good. I'm certain the saddle was bothering him (and I even had it padded up) but eventually we were doing better.
I happen to have a Pessoa all purpose saddle which fits Toby well so I may be practicing for the show in that saddle to prevent his back from becoming sore. It won't help me to practice in it but it'll be more comfortable my old guy. It's just a thought at this point. Sigh...
Hola had a big day!
It started out with him being very quiet in the cross ties. Usually he'll swing his hind end from side to side while in the cross ties in anticipation of going to work. It keeps you on your toes. He also becomes grumpy when you brush him on his rib cage - he'll generally threaten to kick using the back leg on the opposite side of you. I'm pretty convinced he has an ulcer which I have been and am still treating. But on this day, he was like a lamb in the cross ties. Betsy and I marveled at his good behavior.
Once he was tacked up we went out to the indoor arena where a big drop of water landed on him from the ceiling and scared him. Did I mention it was pouring rain...
One thing to note about Hola is that he's a nervous guy and submissive guy. Which is the main reason we have been working him slowly. As long as you have a routine for him, spell it out in crayon, and have no surprises thrown in, then he will give you his best.
So we started out with the usual longe line work with our redneck draw reins. He gave to the bit, marched around rythmically and worked beautifully off of Betsy's voice commands. He did that in both directions. We shortened the draw reins a bit and it was more of the same. So then came his big moment...
Betsy got on him.
Taking into consideration that Hola becomes nervous easily, we did everything slowly, repetitively and my job was to be his security blanket. Part of his training is to take out the "race" that's in him. So for mounting, Betsy got on and we just stood there for awhile and then she got off. Mount, stand, dismount, repeat. He was doing exceptionally well. Betsy had sat in the saddle before on him and he immediately wanted to walk off into action. This time he just stood there like a good guy. Absolutely no forward movement. Just a repositioning of his feet so he could relax better.
After a couple times of that, we walked around the arena. Betsy had a hold of his reins and I had a hold of the longe line which was still attached. Betsy told me that I was to follow along but not do anything except to hold the longe line. My sole duty was to make him feel secure. So Betsy gives him a squeeze of her legs to move forward. Nothing happened. She tried again. Nothing happened. She smooched at him and he went forward! He has a massive walk. Big stride! It was difficult for me to keep up and he wasn't trying to go quickly. After a couple laps around the indoor arena, Betsy noted that he took to the bit well and has a very soft mouth. He also knows to move away from leg pressure as the two of them would go from left to right away from the leg pressure Betsy was giving him.
He was great! And he was relaxed the whole time. So we stopped. He had such a pleasant attitude about everything. I was such a proud mother!!
Now if only Toby could have that same pleasant attitude... :)