I spent a nice morning with Iona, mostly riding. The weather is very hot here, and it's a struggle for me to get up and out early enough to beat the heat. I just don't sleep well if I go to bed unusually early. I'm working on it! However, I have done a little better this week - played with Iona a couple of mornings and Hunter once, too. (Pat on back!)
Circles aren't going as well again. I suspect there is some "make" creeping in on my part. So the pendulum has already swung a little too far in the dominance game, I guess. Iona is playing The Eating Game with me, and the Running Off With the Line Attached Game. I am finally learning to hang on a little better, so I am grateful for the chance to learn about that. I see that my assertiveness is starting to border on aggression about the eating, though. Need to think of some Savvy Arrows quick. Maybe I just need to play the Own the Grass/Food game more, and build the distance. Yep, that should work. Okaaaaay.....it's not as much fun as making her run around, but I'll put it on the list.
I think one reason I was impatient this morning was because I had a plan about riding, and Travelling Circles on the 45' line were supposed to be the warm up. Which they were, but not that pretty. All the eating/running off stuff happened on the right rein as I was trying to increase the distance and just walk around a little, doing walk-trot transitions. We did finally get to the end of the line with some respect. I did a few trot-canter transitons on the left rein, then felt more like doing simple changes instead, so we did a few of those, which she was better with, so I stopped.
She was now all saddled up and I think she was surprised when we left the playground and headed out on the track. Part one of my plan was underway! Hunter and Bruce had obliged nicely by leaving beforehand and going about 1/2 mile or so around. So we were going to have no impulsion problems getting that far! My plan was to catch up with them, and then play with overtaking them, retreating back to them, etc. Play was the important word in that last sentence. We started down the drive at a brisk walk, and I worked on my Fluidity, which has been really lacking in the saddle, the odd time I've bothered with one recently. It really felt awful at first - a foreign object wedged between me and my horse. (Yes, I mean my beautifully fitting and seriously expensive Balance saddle.) I peddled like crazy. We did a little sitting and rising trot. That felt a bit better.We turned the first corner in walk. I decided to involve my arms in my fluidity exercises, and that was an excuse to trot. That was okay with me, but downward transitions were hard and not very long lasting, so we did some direct and indirect reins, just to resume communication. Around the next corner and I figured she was ready to canter. Yep! So we trotted and cantered most of the rest of the way, then hung out with the boys for a bit.
The going ahead and retreating went much more easily than I expected, thanks to Mr Hunter. What I hadn't realised was that he will go with Iona and leave Bruce, I still did some approach and retreat, but it turned out to be pretty easy for the next half mile or so. One place where she's always sticky she went "I'm gonna sull up and buck now." I said "Go ahead" and she said "Yeah, never mind." Hmmmm. The first time I asked for canter she wouldn't, so I just blew her mind by asking her to do a short one back toward Bruce (who hadn't bothered to follow us at all). Then I let her eat (still a long way from Bruce) and after that canter was easy. Fancy that!
When we got half way around by the olive trees we lost Hunter, and I thought we would have an arguement. Wrong. Now bugs came to my aid. I suspect Hunter knew about these, which is why he left us. However, Iona decided any direction would do as long as we kept moving, so the rest of my ride was controlled, but quite speedy. Fun! Well, except for the flies and mosquitos...
I was so pleased, I wondered whether to quit for the day, but I decided to go ahead with part two of my plan. Patterns in the playground. These went so well that there's not really much to describe. I managed to do both Figure 8 and Weave at trot, with just a few corrections at first and finished up both of them without using my reins or stick. Hooray!! I'm sure that long warm up ride helped us both.
One other thing I noticed was from a tip I had from Jerry Williams about the Theraflex pad. I've been using the sideways shimming pattern that Linda P now recommends for low withered horses for awhile, but Jerry told me to actually let the two halves of the pad splay apart at the front, and this seemed to help today with the pad and saddle going in opposite directions, Everything stayed in place better, and I think we were both more comfortable as a result.
What a great morning! I watched some Parelli DVDs in the nice cool house after that to celebrate.