While I've really enjoyed playing with our new horses, and learned some stuff along the way, it hasn't left me enough quality time with Iona or Bruce. However, now that Dove, Ranger and Journey are pretty well through their L1 groundwork, I intend to back off a bit and spend more time with Iona, Bruce and Hunter - in that order of priority. I already feel pangs of guilt that the other three won't be "progressing" enough, but I also remember having that feeling when I went from just having Iona to owning Bruce, as well. It will work out. I know that I need a break, as I was starting to think "Oh, no, not another L1 session!" and it isn't good for anybody, horse or human, if I feel like that!
Yesterday, I spent most of the day with Iona, and it was bliss! My new trail riding buddy, Rodney, came over first thing in the morning, so we headed out for a little ride around here. Iona's foot was a little stiff at first, but it seemed to get better and better as the ride went on, so we finished with some trotting and cantering, by which time we really couldn't see a problem anymore. And, Iona behaved very, very well. I think she was glad to be out doing something. I was pleased that she enjoyed it as our first ride with Rodney mostly consisted of her carting me back to the barn. (Ah, first impressions, eh?) Next week we hope to trailer to Vogel Canyon, a local nature/historic area with horse trails. I hope the weather cooperates!
In the afternoon, I decided to continue with Iona. We shared a lunchtime carrot and then I gave her a good grooming. I wanted to spend some time just hanging with her, and also do some canter Passenger Lesson if possible. I put her bareback pad on, and let her graze in the pasture while I sat on her. She worked her way toward the far corner, near where the herd were loafing on the track. I toyed with the idea of asking for canter when we were about 1/4 mile away from them, but I didn't feel I'd given her enough chill time. I made a vague suggestion, just to see what she'd do, and she wasn't keen. Eating her way toward them was preferable. I figured I might have trouble getting her to leave the corner again, but when we got there I started asking for walk, then trot and finally some canter, and she chose to head back toward the yard. The canter wasn't very enthusiastic or prolonged, and I decided that I wasn't going to pick a fight on her first day back! Instead, when she started to pick up a head of steam going home, we played with slow trot/fast trot transitions. I've rarely done this, and she did brilliantly. I was so proud of her.
When we got back, I had some obstacles set up in the arena, and we played 7 Games Freestyle with them for a little while, after practicing some basic yields. The jumping was a bit clumsy (maybe she was protecting that foot) but everything else went well. Among other things I had set a couple of barrels up for us to squeeze between. Now, Iona is an incredibly brave little squeezer, so I had set them really close together. Too close, as I discovered, as I had hardly left room for Iona, let alone my legs. So we did things like time it so I picked my legs up at the right moment, or stop between the barrels and I would stand with a foot on each barrel. Iona thought that on was really cool. Of course, I've just realized this minute that this would be an alternative way to stand on her back. I must try that next time! Yeah!
Today, I didn't have much time, so I just went out to where the herd were loafing by the shed, out of the wind. I groomed Iona and combed her tail out, then gave her some attempted Shiatsu. I'm not very sure what I'm doing with it, but I try, and it seemed to hit the spot for her, as she did some yawning and stretching. I'm trying to fit more undemanding time in as part of what I do with each horse. It's not easy to convince myself to do this, especially when I feel I "should" be teaching them things and learning things, etc. However, I'm going to try to stick with this, as I'm pretty sure I don't have a good balance. To my surprise, so far, I'm enjoying it, too.