Rides!!!

(WordPress ate my blog post and kicked it back to drafts with last nights work but not this morning, so if you’ve read this before, apologies!)

I had an epiphany while showering last night. (All the best thoughts happen in the shower.) I had been really down last week, feeling upset about not having much response to the job hunt, down on my writing, etc. I was thinking about having to keep applying but realized that even though my situation hasn’t changed since last week, I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t know what changed. Then I figured it out.

I’d been able to ride. I got out and rode three days in a row. I was spending time with my horse and exercising.

So, remember this Future Alex. You get depressed and not nice to yourself if you haven’t spent time with your horse. Now, onto the rides!!

Friday was the first day that it was not raining. I had no idea if the ground was going to be rideable. I figured something was going to be dry enough. The ground is hard and hopefully it would be useable.

There were a lot of people out at the barn and some people were hand walking so I figured I was going to be fine. I had to park up at the only concrete parking which was all the way across the yard. The mud was super deep in some areas and I had to pick my way across carefully. I pulled Scarlet out of the stall on my way back to the tack room. He was a bit excited and tried to rush and hop. I had to yank on him before he subsided.

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I swung on and Scarlet took about 5 steps before he got excited. He exploded into mini rears and spun around moving sideways. I wasn’t worried about coming off but he was moving right toward a visible slurry of mud. I didn’t want him to slip and hurt either of us. He wasn’t listening to me at all. It took a bit and we got dangerously close to the slippery parts but I got him moving forward and around the dryish part of the barn. I was pretty tense for a while. There was a small dryer track we could walk on and it was very difficult keeping Scarlet to the good spots when he was not listening to me. He tried to jig a lot but eventually he settled down. I was able to relax gradually after that and we walked for over 30 minutes. Not the best exercise but we got out and did it.

Saturday, I was super excited to get out there. We’d had one full day of sun so I was hoping that the barn would be even drier. EVERYONE wasout at the barn. This time, we were able to park in the dirt parking lots so there was room for all the cars. I noticed the BO lunging in the front most arena as I was driving in. I have stepped foot in that arena maybe twice since moving to the barn. I thought Scarlet might be a bit of trouble to get up there but it would be worth a shot to get some actual work done.

Scarlet was still quite tense during grooming but didn’t explode when I got on. I did a lap around the barn before heading up to the front. No one was in the arena and it was perfectly dry. Scarlet was not cool with being in that arena though. There are dogs and privacy fences along two sides and they were barking a lot. We made it around by doing circles and moving the edge out further and further each time. Despite not being used to the arena, he was a very good boy.

We’d just started trotting when a lady came out with her horse and asked if we would be okay with her lunging while I rode. This was the only arena that was dry so I said yes, of course. I’m not going to selfishly hog the space when we all are paying for the use of the facilities. She started lunging in a corner and I took the other half of the arena as an oval. We did that for a bit before the western trainer came out and announced she was going to lunge within my oval as she had fifteen horses to lunge that day. I wasn’t in love with the idea but what was I going to do? Say no? A third person came out and took the other corner. So it was a busy arena.

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You can pretty clearly see the two lunge circles to the right, my oval and the circle within my oval to the left.

I’m glad Scarlet is good with other horses around. The horse inside my oval was going nuts and not lunging properly so I had to keep an eye out for him. The other two horses were fine. I trotted and walked around while everyone lunged and waited until they all ended up leaving the arena. I cantered then so that we had more space to move. I called it a day then and headed back. We rode for 55 minutes, which was probably longer than we needed but I was loathe to quit. Scarlet got a lot of grain and some carrot stretches as well as his usual large handful of treats as a reward.

I borrowed a metal garden rake someone had at the barn to try and move some of the mud around in Scarlet’s stall. I couldn’t cart it out and replace it with dry stuff but I thought turning it and moving it into a more even layer might help it try faster. Even if it doesn’t, the effort makes me feel a bit better about it.

Sunday was another gloriously sunny day. The jump arena was open but had some slick corners so I figured I’d just go back to the front arena since we’d had no problem there the day before. Scarlet needed a tow from one of the other horses to walk up there for some reason and he was more spooky than the day before. We got around the arena by the same method and I focused on moving forward and relaxing. I really wanted him to stretch down at the walk and trot since we’d ridden so hard the day before. It took a while but eventually we got some good figure eight stretching trot. I did canter a few laps each way but called it at about 35 minutes.

 

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The nice silver lining to all the rain we had. So much green.

The grassy area wasn’t too wet so Scarlet got a good twenty minutes of yanking up the nice long stems before I put him back in his pen. He got more carrot stretches, which he is already starting to look for whenever I move to his side or by his feet. I can definitely see which moves are harder for him. It matches what I feel on his back which is good. I raked his stall again. I can’t really say if my efforts from the day before helped but it was overall less squishy so I’m going to tell myself it did. It makes me feel better about the ache in my back and shoulders. Raking is hard work!

We have more rain coming at the end of the month. I doubt everything is going to completely dry out before then. I’m going to try to make the most of the sunny time that I have and get out to do something with Scarlet as often as I can. Gotta get my daily dose of vitamin horse after all.

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There’s Water Out There

A very sparse update today. San Diego has been impacted by rain. It’s weird. I’m originally from NorCal so I’m not bothered by the rain. But everyone else down here is. The barn is definitely not outfitted for that much water. Most of the barn is dirt which translates to mud when it rains this much.

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I went out and hung out with Scarlet. I don’t mind riding in the rain but the arenas are closed and the mud is quite slippery. So I don’t want to risk us slipping and sliding around everywhere. I groomed him and gave him some treats. He was not in love with the rain.

His face was the only part that was wet. I don’t understand why he didn’t just put his head under the covering like the rest of his body. Horses. They are silly.

I like mare motels and I like how large his is. He gets to move around more than the average stall will allow. But its only half covered which means it’s half wet with some dripping from the edge. There are no gutters so all the rain just kinda comes straight down.

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So, not much going on with us. The rain is stopping today so we should finally be able to be doing something. I think it will take a while for the arenas to become usable again but the trail should dry up enough to ride on soon.

I did spend some more time with these fluffballs. This lasted for all of the 30 seconds of the video before she bit his neck and said “No more cleaning me.”

Small Jumps

Friday, I decided to try some small jumps with Scarlet. There were a couple of cross rails set up at itty bitty heights. I thought we could start there and maybe graduate up to small ones. After a good warm up, we trotted over the first cross rail. Scarlet didn’t really have a problem with it. I was focused on keeping my position as correct as possible so that there was no reason he could stop. We trotted over two cross rails in both directions for a bit. We had to do some circles and reminders to chill. He was locking onto the fence and rushing it slightly.

After the trotting, we cantered. We jumped several times in all directions. While we were cantering for a second jump, someone cracked a lunge whip in the round pen behind us loudly. Scarlet’s neck went up and he went tense so I directed him past the jump and circled us around till he realized the whip wasn’t for him and relaxed a bit.  After jumping the itty bitty jumps several times, I felt confident enough to make a small vertical and a small cross rail. The vertical was maaaaybe a foot tall to give you some perspective. After having overfaced us last time, I wasn’t taking any chances of that this time.

Scarlet did perfect with those as well. I called it after that, though I wanted to keep inching up the height. It’s supposed to rain a lot this week so I’m not going to be able to jump for a while yet. But my eagerness caused problems last time and the last thing I want is to make him sour at jumping. We did fall back on some rushing issues to the jumps. I’m not sure if that was from eagerness or a reaction to the bad jumps the previous times we jumped. When the arenas dry out enough for jumping, we will have to do some more jumps and try to place poles and such to help with the rushing.

So my friend’s cat gave Scarlet an xmas gift. Appropriate, as he is a horse of a cat:

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Maine Coon. He big. XD

Since I got some extra money to get Scarlet some awesome treats, I grabbed a bunch of stuff when I went to the feed store for his grain.

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Okay so the salt block and container weren’t treats per say but they were necessary. Plus he gets a huge special bag of treats along with his normal bag of treats. (What can I say? He’s spoiled.) And a large bag of carrots. He loooooves carrots. I’d have them more often as they really aren’t that expensive to purchase but they take up a lot of space in my fridge. If I had the electricity to have a mini fridge in my tack room, I’d definitely have it filled with carrots from Costco.

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Crunch crunch. Slobber. XD

More Fasts

My riding schedule hasn’t returned to a consistent schedule as of yet (working on that. Me a lazy bum. lol). The rain definitely influenced a few things. The arena was closed again on Monday. I wanted to get on and ride as last time hand walking around the barn gave me shin splints.

Scarlet was super eager to be off and was ungodly excited when I allowed him to start trotting. The other horses in the barn started to dart around and freak as we trotted past. I felt a little bad about that so I ended up mostly trotting away from the stalls and in a small circle to the side of the back arena. I figured that if the horses freaked when I was moving there, that’s not my problem as much. It’s literally where horses run all the time so its just the wiggles from not having been out I think.

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Scarlet was still extremely eager in the circles so I kept him going until we chilled a bit. Not the best workout for him but we managed to at least get moving.

Tuesday the arena was open again! And Holly was out riding Uno. Scarlet was super duper excited to be going again. He’s always slow to get warmed up at the trot but he was a bit more looky and tense than he normally is. When we cantered, he lit up. You could just hear the thoughts blaring from his head. “OMGZ! FAST! YES! MORE MORE MORE!!” I ended up having to two point around and just let him for for a while. He just wanted to keep cantering and cantering. He was so strong at the trot when I brought him back as well.

We ended up riding for almost an hour just cause he wanted to keep going. Its the thing I love and hate about arabs. They are still fresh when you are worn out.

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Since it was warmer, I gave Scarlet a bath. He really really smelled bad and I just really wanted to get him clean. Not going to last very long but it made me feel happy. He hates baths but I think he forgave me as he got to eat grass for another hour afterward to dry off before I put him away.

A Day at the Barn(s)

The holidays have come and gone. I traveled a bunch and am sooooo happy to be back home. This means I haven’t gotten much horse time recently. It’s also been raining a decent amount (for San Diego) so the arenas haven’t been the best.

I hand walked Scarlet on Tuesday because the rain had made the arenas soppy and I didn’t want to try a ride around the barn after close to two weeks without riding and a cold snap. I ended up jogging with him a bit. Except for the very first jog, where he got a bit excited to be going FAST, he was a perfect gentleman. I ended up giving myself slight shinsplints due to running in my boots.

I rode Wednesday and Thursday. The jump arena dries so well now that the footing is maintained and even all across. The corners were a little sloppy but those are easily avoided. I only did just over 30 minutes of riding both days. Scarlet was pretty good all things considered. My muscles were just not there for the rides. It really sucks how quickly muscle structure vanishes. And I’m not over 30 yet so I dread how that’s going to go as I get older.

Friday, I got to spend the whoooooole day at the barn. L. and I arranged to hang out for the whole day as I don’t have a job and she had a couple of weeks off around the holidays. We started with her barn and I got to watch a lesson with her on Dante. It was so awesome to see the monster baby horse again. He’s gotten a bit naughty and more mouthy but I think it’s just because he’s bored. He really had to work his little brain during the lesson and I think it was so good for him. He definitely figured out everything that Trainer M gave them to do. I took lots of video for L to analyze later.

We hung around her barn for a while, putting things away and watching some other lessons for a bit. Then we got lunch and headed to my barn.

I was excited to show off what Scarlet and I have been doing in regards to jumping. Too excited unfortunately. I got too greedy and set all the jumps higher than I normally start. Scarlet did one or two at that height and then was like, um no. So we had like 4 refusals. L ended up hopping into the arena and dropping the edge of one vertical for me and we popped over it while it was tiny and unimposing and then did it twice after she put it up.

I’m pretty mad at myself for doing that to Scarlet. I should have known better. He hasn’t jumped in pretty much a month. We are both fairly green at jumping. I should have given him something smaller to warm up over and more varieties of heights rather than just pushing him to go higher cause I wanted to show off. Lesson learned.

L did hop on afterward and Scarlet behaved super nice for her and she got him over jumps as well. All in all, it was an entire day spent at barns with a good friend. I so want to do that again. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.

Accomplishments

Monday I felt like doing some jumping. Scarlet warmed up well and I hopped over the low cross rail that was set up as a warm up. He wasn’t jumping very enthusiastically but he doesn’t love trotting over jumps. I hopped of him and moved another cross rail to a more respectable height and then moved a vertical to something that made me a little unsure. It was only one hole above where I’ve jumped before but it looked sooo much higher. There was an oxer set up just below 2′ as well.

I cantered over the cross rail a few times both directions and then aimed for the oxer. It seems odd to do that one first but it was lower and I knew he was going to go over it. He feels so good going over oxers. He definitely was anticipating it the next time we came around the corner. I love when he drags me to the fences.

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Knows where we are heading and says I need to move faster.

After a brief walk break, I cantered us around for the vertical. The sun was setting so the shadows were a little weird and this fence lay in a shadow. I think Scarlet either didn’t see it well or didn’t really realize how high it was because he gave it a really good peak. We made it over regardless. This horse is so stinking good at getting over fences with no momentum. I wish I had someone to push us in lessons to figure out just what he can actually do.

Having made it over the fence, I took us back around the arena and we soared over it super nicely this time. It was smooth and felt great. Holly was watching from where she was lunging Uno and she said he tucked his feet super nice. I gave him big pats and called that a good one to finish on. I measured the vertical later and it was around 2’6″. XD We’re getting bigger and bigger. I need to be more gungho about raising the fences to real heights for us now. Scarlet definitely jumps better with higher fences.

Wednesday and Thursday the training goal ended up being centered around trails. I did some stuff on the flat and then wanted to just walk around. I thought we should probably do the trail loop again and figured it would be a good time to do it the other way.

Cue the Twilight Zone music.

Scarlet lost his freaking mind. No way was he going to go down the trail the other way. *gasp* THE HORROR!

The thing is, he wasn’t spooking. He wasn’t scared. He was pissed we were leaving the barn. This entrance to the loop is closer to his stall and he was not having it. But neither was I. I was not having his backing up, moving sideways and just generally ignoring my leg. I normally wear my spurs below the spur rests on my boots so I use them just for an additional nudge when needed. I moved those up and told him that my leg means FORWARD! We spun in small circles that I directed slowly moving up the trail. I knew I wasn’t going to get him fully out on the trail but I wanted to reach a reasonable point. It really wasn’t that far up the trail.

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Horf Horf. Munch. Mmmmmmmmm. 

When we reached it, we turned and went back. He kept trying to jig his way back. If he ignored my request for a walk, we stopped and backed up. And then repeated about 4 or 5 times before I could get a reasonably responsive walk up to the point I wanted. That was Wednesday.

Normally, getting into a fight with a horse isn’t a great idea. It’s not good to push them when they are really afraid or have serious feeling about something as it might ruin their trust. However, I knew exactly why Scarlet was being a pill and it was not an acceptable reason. Proof is in Thursday. After our ride, we headed for the trail. I had moved my spurs in prep for a fight. I had to ask once but Scarlet moved forward at my urging without spurs for the rest of the short section. He wasn’t happy still but it was forward, listening and respectful. We did that one short section, even going a bit further than the day before and then called it quits. I’m going to keep this up until we can go both ways along the trail loop without issue.

Variety is The Spice of Life

Scarlet and I did a lot of stuff together recently.  None of it was off site of our barn though. I’d love to take him places and work on being comfortable like that, but lacking a truck and trailer means I’ve got to get innovative with what I’ve got available.

Holly’s been looking at part leasing Uno to save some money. She hasn’t found anyone yet but there was a person who came out to trial on Wednesday. She asked me to be there at that time so that she can have a second opinion. Riding while paying attention to someone else and dodging a lesson horse is really difficult so instead of jumping a bit like I had planned, I ended up sitting and watching. Scarlet was cool with it because it meant he got to laze about. The potential leaser seems decent and a quiet ride. Holly is going to have them come try another time or two to make sure they and Uno can get along.

Thursday I did a bareback ride. It had been a while since my last one and I want to keep myself doing them. They are really good for focusing on myself and how I ride. After our ride, I decided to be super brave. We went around the trail loop. Scarlet was actually pretty good. He got a bit tense near the last chunk but he tends to start jigging there anyway. We just need to do more and more loops so he realizes that this is totally normal and he doesn’t have to worry. I wanted a picture of me doing it but I didn’t trust him enough to take my hands of for a picture. Maybe in the future.

Friday morning we jumped a bunch. Scarlet warmed up okay and was pretty sluggish overall. He’s quick to think we’re just going to exit the arena after we do our warm up. He listens though, so I try not to get too annoyed at him. He did quite obediently jump over everything. We didn’t have perfect distances but I also barely had the jumps at two feet. They might have even been less. I think he’s starting to disrespect stuff that is lower. He knocked a vertical with his feet enough to tap it but not make it fall. He doesn’t normally do that so I think I need to raise the fences, even when I’m feeling lazy. Or at least raise a few so I have some fences to challenge him with.

Making Time

Sometimes you make time, sometimes it is made for you.

Scarlet’s back/neck loosened up a couple of days after my last post so I’ll just have to keep in mind that he might need some bute next year.

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Cat picture cause she’s sooo cute!

Lately, I’ve been listening to a podcast while I’m out at the barn. I was initially just listening while I drove. Then I listened on lazy riding days. Then I was always listening. And while the podcast is amazing and definitely not to blame, I realized I wasn’t coming home with the relaxed feeling that made me addicted to going to the barn.

I stopped listening to the podcasts when I’m at the barn and it’s really helped. With a constant stimulus, my brain wasn’t getting that shut off or solely focused on physical state that really helps me relax and unwind. So I’m going to keep leaving the podcasts in the car and try to focus on my horse and myself instead.

With the rain we’ve had, plus a bit of sun, grass has started to grow. We don’t have grass turnouts or even patches of ground to graze on in SoCal so I want to take advantage of this while it exists. I’m planning on letting Scarlet graze after every ride I can.

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I do have more time to do so right now. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this on the blog, but it’s really odd to talk about my day on here with avoiding this. It feels weird and I want the blog to feel comfortable and fun to write. I have a lot more time because I lost my job at the end of October. It really really sucks.

Being an adult means having a job so you can support yourself and the things you want to do. I have an extremely expensive hobby. I feel guilty now not being able to contribute directly to the monthly expenses. I feel like I’ve failed at adulting.

I know most of the feelings are temporary and not true, but they are still there. I’ve been applying to jobs. I’ve even had a couple of phone interviews. The market where I’m at is good but the holidays are here which means that hiring is really slow. I know this. It’s all very reasonable and logical. But logic doesn’t get through to the anxiety.

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So excited. XD

Since I’ve got so much time I’m at the barn earlier and longer than I normally was. I briefly contemplated trying to part lease Scarlet. The money would be useful. But I would go absolutely nuts if I didn’t have him to relax me every day. So I just ride and put in applications.

I’m so grateful that I have a companion who listens to my bitching and gets me out of the house. Scarlet has been my emotional rock so many times when I was young. He still is even when I’m dealing with adult crap instead of angsty teen drama.

I love my horse.

PS – If anyone knows someone who needs a Software Tester for a job in San Diego, Seattle or remote, hit me up! 😉

Health Stuff

Scarlet had to get his teeth floated and his vaccinations on Wednesday. He doesn’t love the covered crossties we have to go into in order to get it done. I arrived early and waited for 15 minutes after the vet was supposed to arrive. He called me and said he was going to be there in about 20 minutes. So more than half an hour late… Should have known better than to arrive early for a horse related appointment. I’m a perpetual early bird to appointments. I get anxious about being late really easy. I’ll just have to be ready to chill when it’s a horse thing.

Waiting for the vet

The vet showed up and got to work. Scarlet was pretty good and didn’t do more than kinda try to move backward. Understandable when there’s a giant rasp in your mouth. The vet said he looked pretty good because he stays on a regular schedule. Always nice to hear that my old boy is healthy.

Drugged baby

After the vet went to do another horse’s chiro appointment. I stood around tapping his face to try and get him a bit more awake before I walked him back to his stall. I must have been there too long because the vet stopped back to check on me and then walked Scarlet off. He told me he was good to go back. Sorry vet if I look like a crazy horse mom. I am! Scarlet is very important and I’m overly cautious with his health.

We then had a stupid amount of rain come down. I’m happy for it because rain in CA is always welcome. San Diego has rain so rarely that literally no one knows how to drive in it. When I was going to the store, everyone was driving like they’d never driven before. Better than the alternative. There was a serious multiple car multiple fatality accident that might too so I’ll take the granny driving thanks.

I got our Saturday morning and went on a few loops of the trail with my friend K and her horse. Scarlet was really good about it all. He hugged a bit but after having not been ridden for 4 days, I’m not complaining.

After the ride, I gave Scarlet his grain. He just shuffled around instead of trying to eat it. Immediately, I started panicking. He ate if I lifted the pan but he didn’t want to lower his head much more than halfway down. I left him to the pan while filling his water and he ended up eating a bit from it but he didn’t clean his plate like he normally does. He drank a lot of water too so I didn’t think he was really sick. I ran my hands all over him and didn’t find anything besides a small bump where a vaccine was given. I talked to K and she said her horse has a stiff neck all the time after vaccines it takes her three days or so to recover. She gave me some bute to give Scarlet so he could have some pain meds.

So, in light of that, I’m planning on putting together a first aid kit list for myself. I’ve got bute, vet wrap, gauze, wound cream. Anything else you guys suggest?

Narrow Focus

I got to hang out with L. on Tuesday. It was super awesome to see her new barn. It’s very fancy, calm and clean. I had serious barn envy. But that barn is like 2.5x my budget so that’s not on my radar any time. Dante is still a lovable goober. He’s looking more and more like a chunk of a horse instead of a gangly baby boy.

After visiting L, I always end up thinking about doing transitions more. As a result, that rolled over into my ride on Wednesday. I had a shorter amount of time on Wednesday as I was making dinner that night.

My plan was to just do my normal warmup of w-t-c and then call it. I asked for a lot of up and down transitions. My goal was to make them quick off the cue and proper. I wanted Scarlet to go up into an actual trot and a forward canter when I asked for it rather than shuffling into the gait and then moving up properly. It wasn’t perfect but I’m going to try to do this more often so that Scarlet stops getting tense during them.

Friday we did more transitions. Scarlet still got tense, as I expected him to do. It’s going to be a long process of getting him to stop anticipating. It might not even happen. He’s always been a horse that tries to anticipate rather than wait. They really do improve the gaits. I focused on the transitions within the warmup to make sure we improved everything right from the start.

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Someone had raised the crossrails to verticals since the last time I’d ridden in the jump arena. I figured I’d give it a chance. It was messy for sure. We didn’t knock anything down but I attribute that more to how athletic Scarlet can be with jumping.

After doing the circle both ways (we need to really work much harder on that one later) I wanted to ride the white line again. Since I knew I had to just let Scarlet go a bit shorter strides to make it (such baby pony strides he has) I figured we could manage it.

We did the vertical to the gate first. I asked for a shorter stride aaaaaand we added more than we needed to. I did it again and just didn’t mess with him. It went much better.

I’ve always gone vertical to the gate but figured I really should do it the other way as well. We cantered around on the right lead and over the gate. Scarlet just had to stare straight down at the fence and had no momentum. He smashed through the top pole of the fence. Full on both forelegs smack in the middle of his cannons.

Sigh.

I pulled him to a stop and replaced the pole. After getting back on, we went around and reapproached. It must have gotten through Scarlet’s skull that the previous attempt kinda hurt. He did a no-touchy jump with about an extra foot of space. I wasn’t quite ready for it and I yanked on his mouth. We ended up trotting to the vertical and going over it.

We regrouped at the walk for a moment and then we reapproached. This time, I grabbed a large chunk of mane and kept myself out of his way. He still didn’t want to touch the pole (duh dude…) but it wasn’t as dramatic as the previous one. I gave him a big pat and a cookie and then we cooled down.

Saturday we had a nice relaxed bareback ride. Scarlet was super duper relaxed from the start. We had about 12 total minutes of trot and canter and otherwise, we just walked for almost half an hour. It was a nice relaxed ride. I love when we are both on the same wavelength for rides.