Thursday, 7 July 2011

Shining his halo...

Just got back in from a ride, asked my dad to go with me as I always feel more confident, and I was expecting another episode like yesterday. So of course Diesel was an angel today, as horses love to show us up!

I tacked him up really slowly today, as I realised while I was thinking about it yesterday that I tend to tack Diesel up in a bit of a rush, and this may be adding to the problems I am having with putting his saddle on. Lo and behold there was very minimal aggression, so I will make the effort to get to the yard 10 minutes earlier and take my time tacking up from now on.

I lunged for a few minutes before riding, to get any 'fizz' from yesterday out of his system before I got in the saddle, and he was very sluggish. When I got on he was just like the normal Diesel, still forward going but not sharp or silly like yesterday. I didn't want to push too much and wait for him to play up again, so I limited myself to a 15 minute ride today. I spent the first 10 minutes working on control in walk, with circles, halts and changes of rein. I do this at one end of the school (between C and X) as the indoor is a large arena, and it seems unnecessary to travel the whole length for warming up and walking. After this I wanted to stop, but my dad made me carry on and have a trot (good old dad!), which was the best trot I have had on Diesel yet. We went large around the arena for one circuit then two 20 metre circles at C, as the first one went wrong, followed by a trot to halt. I then changed the rein an trotted a 20 metre circle on the other rein. Diesel really started to listen to my leg aids and to steer from my legs in trot rather than just my hands. So I aim to continue to work on this and continuing to use leg aids for steering in walk.

The Itch Stop also seems to be really helping Diesel's tail, he hasn't been rubbing it and the hair seems to be growing already, so I will use it a bit longer then review.

Schooling for next week:
  • Continue working Diesel off the leg more, and ride him more forwards.
  • Work on my position.
  • Get Diesel used to leg aids for bending and turning in walk.
  • Continue to introduce steering aids in trot
  • Use ground poles to further improve Diesel's walk.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

An 'interesting' ride!

Finally got back in the saddle today for the first time since last Friday. I have been so poorly with a stomach bug, just haven't felt up to riding at all. Needless to say, Diesel has really enjoyed his long weekend off, so much so that he really didn't want to be brought in from the field today. He was very unenthusiastic and I had to drag him in! Then had a real battle to tack him up (do you ever get the feeling it is 'one of those days'). I really should have predicted what would happen next, but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

As you can tell, his behaviour didn't improve at all while I was riding, he was very spooky, particularly in the CH corner, which we shied away from on three occasions. Diesel tried to throw me off a total of three times, twice in the CH corner and once as we passed the barn door. This really does show how much better I am feeling about riding him, as I ride through it and continued to work. Eventually I decided to cut my losses, and after two consecutive 20 metre circles without spooking I got off and lunged him instead, and of course he was an angel to lunge - because other people could see me then, and he never misbehaves in front of anyone! Today was the first time I felt like I was riding a recently broken 3 year old, and I hope he settles down to his normal laid back behaviour soon!

I have been a little concerned about Diesel's back recently, thinking that maybe his saddle isn't fitting very well. This would certainly explain the aggressive behaviour when I tack him up. I am fairly sure that this is just being naughty and evading being tacked up, as he doesn't mind having his girth done up in the school, or in the yard, just when he is being tacked up. Also he has always been fine to be ridden so I had dismissed the idea of a bad back or saddle problems. However, while I was riding today he did seem a little different, he kept turning his head round to the left and trying to bite my foot, and chewing his side, and he was also scraping the floor with his left foot. The flies were out in force today, which is the most likely cause of the behaviour, but it is definitely concerning me. I wanted to be sure he wasn't lame, which is why I lunged, and he was absolutely fine. So after my ride I stopped of at my local saddlery (I am very lucky to have one practically on my doorstep), to ask their opinion and see about having my saddle checked. So the plan for now is to keep riding for a week or so and monitor the situation, and to book Diesel into a saddle fitting if he is still misbehaving (more expense that I can do without at the moment, horses are so expensive!).

I have also noticed that Diesel seems to have a touch of sweet-itch or some other reaction on his tail. It has gone very scurfy and he has started to rub it, and damage the hairs. So yesterday I used some Net-Tex Itch Stop cream to help. So I will give it a go for a while, then a review!

If anyone has any ideas on Diesel's strange behaviour I would love to hear them - thank you.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Todays ride

Not a lot to report today so I will keep it a short one. I had a good ride today, about 15 minutes. Worked on walk circles and ground poles, then finished with a trot around the arena on both reins. My dad came to watch again and said the improvement in my confidence was really noticeable. He also said that Diesel's walk had greatly improved since he last watched, he was going more forward and stepping under more. I am so glad as this shows that the ground poles are working a treat. I try to incorporate them into every ride now, randomly going over them from time to time and from varying distances, it is really encouraging Diesel to pick his feet up more and work through from behind.

Another thing struck me today, the feeling of power that Diesel gives when you ride. You can really feel the 'engine' going from his hindquarters, much more than any other horse I have ever ridden (and there have been many!). It surprises me every time you ride just how much power this little pony has. It feels amazing in the few seconds that Diesel will lighten on the forehand and step under fully from behind, like floating. As a result it makes you feel like you are riding something much bigger than a 13.2hh pony, a feeling that is enhanced by his long stride. I was wondering if anyone else had horses like this? Or quite the opposite a horse that rides a lot smaller than it is?