Sunday, January 20, 2013

Puddle Practice

Yesterday brought temperatures a good 20 degrees warmer than forecast, so we took the opportunity to get a little riding in before the arrival of today's 30mph winds, not to mention the plummeting temperatures we're expecting.

I had watched a lesson session at noon, and at that time the arena was still coated in the 2" of snow that fell on Wednesday.  By the time I got there at 1:30 with the BBW, nearly all the snow had melted and pooled in the track just inside the rail all the way around.

Awesome! I thought-- puddle practice!  There is an inevitability to the fact that, if Sherman ever leaves this farm for dressage competition, it will be during or just after a monsoon.  There will be puddles at X, and likely in a number of other locations around the arena.  Having come of saddle age during two serious drought years, Sherm hasn't had much practice working through puddles.

On our first five laps, the BBW decided that it would be best if he kept his precious princely feet out of the puddles, so he demonstrated his amazing balance and motor coordination by working between the puddle (a long trough of puddle, really) and the rail.  On both long sides.

It was pretty impressive, really.  That area is a lot narrower than his wheelbase, and I kept nudging him over, but he managed to keep his balance and stay in the dry spot. I did get some pretty good rubs on the outside of my outside calf.  Glad I wasn't wearing my tall boots-- they'd have gotten reasonably scuffed up.  (Though the added leather may have pushed him in better than my floopy leg did...)

When it became clear that he was warmed up and in complete control of his physical faculties, I began to ask more insistently for leg yield in, and he got very good at ignoring me until the narrowest section of puddle-trough, at which point he yielded very large, and was suddenly to the inside of the trough, again on dry land.  Oh, the Boy has mad skilz.

Cannot take photo and yield horse simultaneously.
At the far end of the arena, the puddle was its widest and deepest, so we began to work in and around that puddle, and Boy-o was ridiculously amusing.  If I dropped the reins and let him sniff and paw, he was delighted to be in the puddle.  If I asked him to walk on through it, well, then it was full of horse-eating snakes, and he bulged out of it.

But immediately turned himself around to go again.  What fun!  Would I let him play and paw? Or would I insist he behave and walk on through straight?  Could he figure out a way to get ahead of me at just the last instant? He loved this game!

Eventually, however, he tired of his own games and was walking through the puddles with the usual boredom he expresses when he's decided I'm not going to give up on something he thinks is tedious. So we got in our puddle practice.

A post-ride demonstration that he can stand quietly in a puddle.

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