I finally got to have another lesson with Mark but I would really classify it more as a training session. I did not even ride Trax. He needed some schooling and I am not the best person to give it to him, so I asked Mark to ride him and ride he did.
Trax has developed a bad habit of jumping into a trot rather than simply moving into it. So he worked on that for quite a while and really worked on softening him up again. He worked on his back ups and his stops, from a trot. He loped him for a long time, but he told me that he only let him do it because he was so soft and easy about it. Had he been chargy then they would have been doing transitions. He was on a loose rein and maintaining the correct speed so it was okay to just let him go for a while. He also showed me that it helps to not lope him in circles, but in a square. He said that a horse can not remain hollow backed (which he tends to be) in a square.
He rode him for over an hour and was getting some good stuff from him, so he ended on a positive and suggested we just leave it at that. So we did. Mark said that he really likes the new bit on him. He says he is much more responsive with it. I'm glad to hear that, because the darn thing cost more than all my other bits combined!
We talked a lot about the upcoming show and one of the things he said to me is that my focus needs to be more on my horsemanship than on the pattern itself. Then he elaborated.
"To me, horsemanship means to ride your horse at the level he is at."
Then he went on to explain that even though the pattern will say "stop from a lope" that is not where Trax is at right now. He said to go ahead and check him into a trot and then stop him. Basically I was being reminded in a very nice way, that this Ranch Pleasure class is not about winning for me, it is about training, and I need to remember that above all else. This is sound advice for me. I find myself getting so caught up in not making a fool of myself that I loose sight of what my real goal is. It does not matter what anyone thinks about us, not even the judges. What matters is that Trax and I go out there and work together. If I am asking him for things that he isn't ready for, all he is going to do is fall apart on me and we will not be working together.
The trail class though I expect to do pretty well in. I don't mean as in win any ribbons or anything. But he does these obstacles so well now, there isn't any reason that we can't have a clean run through the trail. His hardest part with trail is trying to remember that it isn't a race. To him everything is a race, but keeping him down to footfalls is still our goal here.
We talked some about lead changes but I have to admit I walked away from that a little confused at what he was saying, but I will get clarification. I had been explaining that I was practicing lead changes by going from a circle to the left (more like a D) and then breaking down to a trot asking for the change and then doing a circle to the right. I think, that what he said to me was that for most horses the lead change comes from propulsion so my method would actually be the wrong way to go. But because propulsion is the one issue my horse does not lack, what I am doing is okay for now. Like I said, I think that is what he said. I could be wrong though.
Today, I will find me a typical Ranch Horse pattern to print off and my goal this weekend will be to practice one to try to get my moves down. Oh one thing I forgot to mention is that Mark really worked him on his spins last night too. He didn't care, at this point, if he crossed with the correct leg, as long as his pivot foot stayed in place. If he fell off on the hind, then he would side pass, side pass, side pass, and then ask again. Sometimes which ever hip fell off, he would push that hip around and around and then ask for the spin again. Eventually he was doing both directions perfectly.
I know I have said it before but I seriously love to watch Mark ride Trax. It only takes a short time before Trax goes from being a freight train, to being a more soft and supple horse. I honestly can't tell you if I ever achieve that myself, although there have been times when Mark has said that he looks great when I am riding him. Not every time, but sometimes. It was actually a good lesson. He is good about explaining what he is doing while he is doing it, so I understand the reasons why and hopefully can do it myself.
I had noticed the day after I rode Killian last that he had lost a shoe, and Mark said he would throw another one on, so Killian came along for a ride last night. As it turns out, he actually lost another one in the last day or two so we had to replace both of them.
I had to laugh at Big K, as Mark rode Trax, K was more than happy to sleep in the corner of the arena. I think I actually heard him snore!
So I had Trax tied in the arena and we walked down the hill to where Marks truck was to do the shoes. We were in between a barn and some stalls and the colt that he is working with that looks like Danny was there also. I call him Fruit Loop. He has another name, I think it might be Laredo. Fruit Loop fits better.
Meanwhile Trax was up in the arena losing his mind because he was left behind.
While we worked on Killian there were some kids running around, one was Marks son who was doing chores, but the other two were much younger and pretty wild. I suspect that they were visiting or something because these kids acted like they have never been around a horse before. They were jumping and screaming and pushing each other and throwing things around.
You probably get sick of hearing this, but that big red horse is worth his weight in gold. He never even batted an eye at those kids. Trax would not have handled that situation so well. He does not care for young kids at all! After the kids left, even Mark said that he was impressed by how good Killian was for all the commotion. I suspect that Killian was more concerned that Fruit Loop was getting food and he wasn't.
At one point Trax quit screaming and I wondered if had gotten loose in the arena and was up there rolling on my saddle. (He didn't)
Once he had shoes on I took him back up to the arena and hopped on him bareback with the halter. It was really hard to wrap my legs around to hold on at a trot and not ding him with my spurs. It is also probably a very good exercise for me to start doing, because my leg muscles were sore when I got off and we didn't ride very long. We just rode around, and I practiced steering him with my legs, no reins at all. He did okay at first but it was obvious when he was ready to be done because pretty soon he just ignored me and kept going to the gate, so I would push him back around and we would go again.
I generally try to vary up my feeding times a little when ever I can. I used to freak out if they weren't fed at the exact same time every day, but I have changed my theory on that. I feel like conditioning them to not expect their food at the exact same time, saves them from stress if some sort of emergency keeps me from getting out there at the same time every day. Although I will say that last night it was after 10 pm and that is the latest they have ever gone.
I must have tweaked my hip while riding Killian because it hurts like hell this morning. I keep trying to stretch it out but it isn't working. Going to have to figure out something though because I have one week to really get some riding in before the show. I need to get as many miles on him as I can this week, the less wound up he is the better off we both will be.
I put in my final notice for my job yesterday. My last day here will be July 12th. Suddenly moving became a reality. Yikes!!!!