A little preparation
Knowing that I had friends coming to ride this week certainly galvinised me into action. I finished clearing the yard in front of the "visitors shed" and put up a pen there. I finished clearing the arena, too, and removed a number of hazards that I wasn't happy about.
In between that I also took Iona out around the farm again, and with better preparation we much improved the grass diving thing, We also had some fabulous canters! And I rode Bruce a bit, as the plan was for Sara to ride him today, and I just wanted to check him out a little. She was on him bareback recently and they looked great together, but I wanted to be sure of him. He was just his usual self, however.
On Friday JR was here helping me. He removed a number of dangerous metal posts out in the pastures that I hadn't been able to get out with my post puller, and also set the last few turning posts for the track fence. On Saturday he even came out for a couple of extra hours and fixed some further hazards in the arena that were slightly bigger projects, and I don't think I would have got them done without his help! Big sigh of relief!
I just have to digress a bit here, and tell you about how great Iona was on Friday. She and Bruce each have a tie up place, where I have been grooming and feeding them recently. Friday I was grooming Iona's mane, so I took her halter off. No big deal, I have taught her to stay put at her place on previous yards, and she still knows what to do. However, she managed to do it with JR filling water cans, moving his truck around, loading it, and running power tools all right next to her, while I wandered around finding grooming stuff, etc. so I was well impressed with her. Then, much to my amazement, Bruce managed to do the same when it was his turn for the hairdresser. Now that's an achievement! Then, Iona stood completely quiet and relaxed, with the rope draped over her back, out by the "water hole" while I shampooed her tail and hosed her teats and belly where she has fly bites. She isn't always a happy bather so I was really pleased.
Today was hot, and I really wondered how the Fells would cope with an active day and early afternoon ride. However, they took it in their stride and gave us a really good day out. Sara and Linda both arrived just after lunchtime. Linda's horse, Ducky, was his usual cool, calm and collected self! Bruce and Iona greeted him with a modest display of running around and bucking. They are old friends. It was great to be able to pop him into that visitor's pen while the three of us shared a cold drink and a chat.
Linda and Ducky arrive.
We got our horses and headed for the arena. Somehow it was too hot to feel really inspired about playing, but we warmed up, saddled up, did our pre-flight checks and so on. Even managed to have a chat about Rapport, Respect, Impulsion and Flexion, and how that should really be part of the pre-flight checks. I got a little busy taking Sara through the mysteries of Bruce's tack , and didn't manage to take many pictures. The poor girl survived her first time with a Theraflex pad, first time with a crupper and first time with a treeless saddle, and took it all in her stride.
I did manage to get a nice shot of Sara putting Bruce on the pedestal while Iona stood by looking suitably unimpressed!
So we were all mounted up and after a little warmup in the arena we headed out into the pasture to ride and have fun. Sara hadn't ridden in a hackamore before, so we talked a little about the basics as we started out of the yard, and she did great. She just needed to be reminded that it's still one rein at a time.
I knew that we were likely to have a few discussions with Bruce and Iona about that tasty grass, so I suggested that we stop at the very first nice patch and make sure that they waited for a signal from us to eat. We did that and walked awhile and repeated this a few times.
Linda said that one of her goals for the day was to improve how she was riding both the trot and canter. So Sara and I took the lead in trot so that she could work on it. After a couple of these, she still wasn't happy. I think the Fells trot a lot faster than Ducky normally would. He's not lazy, he just has a rather polite little Western jog. When he has to follow the Fells he must think "Gee, what's this? Should I lope now?" I suggested to Linda that maybe if she just asked him to canter, then she would know that it was no problem if he did. That might help her relax in trot. I said we'd do another fast trot and she could experiment and play with trot and canter transitions behind us. So off we went. She looked great, and how I know is that she and Ducky overtook us! Not out of control, but looking pretty sorted. We were on a nice stretch of ground, so I suggested we turn and do some more. Then I felt like I really wanted a fast canter, and Sara was ready to try it with Bruce, too. So when we turned again, Linda went on ahead at her own pace, and once she was well away Sara and I let the Fells go. Bruce exploded with joy, and Sara rode it like a pro. She had to circle a bit to disengage him at the end, and his feet were hardly touching the ground. Wheehee!
By now we'd ridden a mile or so of rail. and we were at the east side where the road that follows the fence is on a bit of a high bank. We all did serpentines up and down the bank. (Iona thinks this is absolutely the biz!) Then we stopped for a little photo opportunity.
Linda and I
Linda and Sara
Sara and I
This felt like enough follow the rail, so I suggested that we ride around more in the middle. That was fun, and we all started doing things like using two patches of bindweed or two anthills for Figure 8 markers. I reckon it is about the most useful those two items will ever be!
Sara asked me about carrot stick riding. I had given her mine to help Bruce get zone 1 out of the grass. So I did a quick demo. Once we got over the semantics of direct and indirect "rein" when you aren't actually using your reins, she picked it up really quickly. Iona was a little star! Then we decided that we were thirsty, so we headed back to the house, and I rode the whole way with no reins. Yay!
Time for iced tea
And buckets of water
In spite of the heat we headed out again. Primarily with the plan of taking in the area where we hadn't ridden yet. It's got some of the best grass, so we thought we would just head out there to let them graze for a bit. Bruce and Iona didn't look very energetic as it was pretty hot. However, Ducky was still fine, so he and Linda led us on the next canter. Then we walked along to the nice grass, and just spent some undemanding time chatting while they grazed.
Sara tells a good storyLooks like Linda's enjoying it.
Don't they look relaxed!
So we headed back. Iona and I have been practising working the electric fencing gates without touching any of the polyrope (even though it's switched off). That one needs to get into the muscle memory. That skill came in handy and gave us a bit of a shortcut home. We all agreed that we'd had a brilliant time. For me, it was just fantastic to see other people having fun and benefitting from this place. Everybody stayed for dinner, and JR came, too, with the kids. (Did I mention, he and Sara are married?)
You'll probably laugh at this, but after everybody was gone, I went out with the wheelbarrow and fork to "tidy" the yard and arena. It just felt perfect! The place looked lived in and used, which is exactly how I like it! I felt so inspired, I went into the next little side yard and put in posts for a roundpen there and started clearing the ground. It's so sandy back there, it should be great!