Moonrise at sunset. We had a beautiful full moon on Sunday night.
Sunday Linda visited to ride and play with Dakota. We had a great time together in the playground. I spent some time doing pedestal tasks with Iona -four feet on the pedestal, and hind feet only. She is very confident with these now, which is cool, as it's a pretty small pedestal and fairly high, too. Linda and Dakota played with the low pedestal and spent some time on their Figure 8s. They had those going great.
"How do I look?"
"It's a long way down." A moment later she stepped her front feet off and left her hind feet on, with one leg cocked. Mrs Cool!
"Do we really have to do this?"
"Yes, we do!"
They get it on!
Some of our other stuff didn't go so well. We are trying to increase the laps on the circle. Perhaps I just wasn't patient enough, as it didn't go well, so I didn't push it. I hopped on and tried some carrot stick riding and stuff - that also needs attention, as my direct "rein" seemed to be broken. That should have told be that sideways also wouldn't go well, but I had to try it anyway, and guess what? It didn't go well either!! Maybe Iona just wanted to go out for a trail ride. Linda was also on by that time, and having some trouble with straightness and impulsion, so we both did a bit of point to point and worked on snappy departures. We both got going better, and then headed out to ride on the track.
We had a great time, and did a lot of cantering. I can't believe how much Linda's confidence, balance and leadership have improved in just a few months. When we got up to the north side, four deer jumped the fence in front of us and then jumped the track fence and headed away across the pasture and then on into the neighbour's pasture. That could have been an "oh no!" moment, and the horses did do a bit of a dance, for sure, but we all kept it together and went on to enjoy the rest of the ride. Amazingly, they didn't damage the track fence! (This time.) It was kind of cool to see them, as I knew they were around, but hadn't managed to see them before.
Area where we saw the deer
I had to laugh and tell Linda that for the past few days I'd been moaning to Mark that I didn't have anybody to go out and ride fast with. Looks like that has changed! Hooray!!
Today I went out to get Iona to play. The herd was in the wide area of the newly opened section, where they have been spending a lot of time lately. I called her and looked at her hindquarters a couple of times from a long way away, and was really pleased to see her head toward me. Brilliant! Since we had that, I decided to see whether we could make it at liberty. I stood by the nearest track gate, and she came over. Of course Bruce had to come too, just in case he missed something. The challenge then was to let Iona through the gate into the main pasture without Bruce getting through. However, I managed to position them with very subtle gestures - NO stick waving, etc.! - and worked her through. I always give the one who is left behind a treat at this point, if they have been cooperative, so Bruce scored.
We did the whole walk to the playground gate as stick-to-me, with only a couple of corrections. I stopped a few times and allowed her to eat grass, and threw in some trot and some back-up to keep it interesting. When we got to the playground I realised that I had forgotten some things I wanted, so I left her. When I came back, she was grazing on the far side of the playground, but when she saw me she headed straight over. I was really pleased. I then thought that she had zeroed in on her bareback pad, but when I picked up the pad to put it on she left, so I guess not!
We then had a little catching game at a slow walk. This was probably because Bruce decided to bring the herd in along the section of track beside the playground. So Iona thought she preferred to join them. However, they kept going around the buildings to the water tank where she couldn't see them. She got fairly agitated - albeit in slow motion - and pawed the ground and even halfheartedly tried to duck under the fence. She got shocked for her trouble. Ouch! I sent quite a lot of time doing a low key catching game with her before i got her back with me. She was then fine about being saddled.
I wanted to do some work on circles with obstacles. It took ages to get her willing to circle and then to do anything with the obstacles, however we finally got into it, she did some nice things and I quit that task. I wanted to improve her impulsion on the circle a little more before we moved on to Figure 8s, as I hoped to work on cantering them. Now I was trying to just do a few trot canter transitions on the circle, but she kept running back to the obstacles!! What a pony!
The Figure 8s were really hard work and we never cantered. I did my best to be firm, fair and friendly.... I found myself thinking that she is bored, rather than engaged, by the whole Patterns thing right now. I have tried very hard not to turn them into drills or be too repetitive, but I am obviously missing something, so I will need to think about this. Weave was also a drag.
We moved on to riding, and this went better. Did a little bit of carrot stick riding - mainly HQ disengagement which went very well. Then a little jumping, and she was actually getting enthusiastic. I enjoyed that, too, even though I felt I was bouncing around a little too much at the trot. We finished up by working on circles on a casual rein. It took a little patience, but they improved at the walk as I improved my ribs and hand position and she settled into the pattern. When she did well I went into a Bullseye to finish. We did a few of these, then played around with the Weave just for a little change. Came back to the circles at trot. She went into a very fast punchy trot that was uncomfortable to sit. It was kind of exciting and the circles were pretty good, but it was not easy to get her into a better gait. I tried some walk trot tranitions, which helped and she finally stretched down a little a couple of times, so I quit there. I didn't want to quit while she was doing her "machine gun" trot!
So not a great session, but it left me with plenty to think about. It's always great spending time with Iona. I am so lucky to have her. We just hung out together for a little while before I moved on to do some chores.