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Riding, Roman

[Riding] Riding Roundup

Okay, okay, I've been bad again. Life's been eating me; outside of work, some family stuff has been going on that's stressed me, so I haven't really been as 'focused' online lately. I'll try to summarize! Over the past few weeks, I've stayed on Derby, with one brief sideline to Ladd.

The one shot on Ladd was because Derby was sedated that day. See, Derby's been losing weight at a frightening rate recently. Nothing showed up as wrong in blood-work or X-Rays. The theory around the barn was that his teeth were just too sharp, and it hurt to eat his hay; he still had an active appetite, and would wolf down treats of any form when offered. However, the policy at the stable is 'better safe than sorry;' better to spend the money on x-rays and bloodwork while waiting for the dental appointment and find the money was wasted, than to not do it and find out later something really was wrong. But sure enough, it seems to be the teeth; he was sedated for his dental work (and thus not suitable to be ridden at a canter or for jumping the day after, for my lesson), and once his teeth were filed down, he's been snorfing his hay at a truly astonishing rate, and filling back out nicely.

Ladd was an odd experience to go back to; his gait, being 'normal,' felt really odd and wrong after Derby. I've also realized that while Derby will drop from a canter if I'm not careful, Ladd just won't even go /into/ a canter out of a jump unless I'm applying serious leg pressure as I jump. That threw me a bit, unfortunately, but I got the hang of it by the end of my time on him. Still didn't feel as confident about jumping Ladd as I do Derby.

We've fallen into sort of a pattern: Thursday is flatwork practice, where I work on smooth transitions, and -- more and more often -- cantering a pattern. Cantering in a circle or serpentine, to practice my steering at the canter. Friday is jumping practice, and lately that's turned from cross-bars to real fences, and now to more-than-one. I've done a cross-bar followed by a fence immediately afterwards, and now we've turned trotting a cross-bar, cantering a circle, coming back around and jumping an actual fence. It's exhilarating, though I definitely need to improve my finer steering at the canter.

The most immediate progress I've made was this week; I've finally got the hang of getting Derby warmed up quickly. If I can get him to a really active trot in the first five minutes, we can keep a good pace for most of the lesson (though we still end up at 'I'm a crazy thoroughbred, WHEE' by the end). Moreover, I've been having real trouble keeping a secure seat when I canter a fence; I was tending to either come a little too far forward, or land back in the seat a little too quickly. Both the instructor and I knew the issue was that I was getting into jumping position one stride too early, but... it was a very hard habit to correct. This Friday, after several weeks of trying, I finally managed that for the final two jumps of the lesson. (Now we get to see if I can stick with that next Friday!) When we finished the lesson on Friday, we both were exhausted but happy, and just sort of leaned against each other companionably when I got down to walked him two cool-off laps. When I went to lead him out, he twisted around to give me a big horse-hug before I took him to the gate.

Derby's former half-lessor is actually the daughter of my former classmate. My lesson on Friday is the last of the day, and lately, she's started showing up at the end of my lesson to hang out and chat, and visit with Derby along with me. It's kind of a nice little socializing wind-down as I clean tack, feed horses and help close up the barn. She's going to start fully leasing a horse the instructor found for her, and is excited, but already misses Derby. Understandably; he's a very affectionate horse.

We've also discovered a new trick Derby will do. If you cup your hand and fill it with water from a water-bottle, he'll lap it up like a dog when you hold your cupped hand out. It's very cute. :)

At any rate, Derby's remaining a school horse at the moment. With Chester and Bayley off in retirement, we're short a horse. (And Chester's going to be a tough one to replace!) Once we find a replacement for Chester, Derby's going to be available for half-leasing again, and I'll probably take that on. In the meantime, I'll just keep riding him whenever I can.
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Hey, you know the espresso place outside the QFC, next to Bartels? The sister that does the Friday - Monday stretch is a rider as well.

*laugh* I'll have to stop by and chat when I'm next over there. :)