Ack! Where’d the time go? I literally had a blog post open and ready to write in last Sunday and it just… never happened. But I shall do my best to catch up now!
First, the bestest boy. Scarlet is doing good. I feel like this last week I figured out a good schedule and rhythm for my mornings. He still gets his walks every day and grooming on the days when I’m not riding Ezio or when I have more time in my day. On the two weekdays where I’m riding, he only gets about a 10 minute walk and his stretches. It’s only been one week so it’s not a good dataset but he seems to be doing well with this system so far.
Now the second bestest body! I had my first lesson on Ezio! It was a week ago Friday so it has been some time since then. But it was a great lesson!
Obviously the first thing I did was ask Trainer J what she thought of the saddle fit. She thought it would do okay. It didn’t strike her as fitting particularly terribly and might last a bit while he fills out a bit more. I just need to keep track of if he develops any soreness. Then Ezio really wanted to make sure he introduced himself so she spent a bit of time petting him while I talked about how we’d been riding in the handful of rides that we’d done. I talked about being very soft with my hands and mostly working on steering. She was not worried about how slowly I was taking it and that I wasn’t cantering very often.
We started with the walk for the lesson and she immediately told me not to walk for him. Ezio likes to shuffle along. He does have a forward walk when I asked for it, but apparently I was getting it with my legs and then keeping it with my seat by having a very driving seat. She wanted me to only follow with my hips, not drive. I was to ask for him to walk forward in front of my legs, escalating my cue until I got what I wanted and then leave it. I also needed to be quick to correct when he slowed down. This was a bit difficult as I wasn’t as quick as needed and trying to only follow with my hips led me to shutting down my movement. It took a bit of practice but we did get it.
For the trot, we worked on riding bending lines and asking him to move his ribs away from my inside leg to get him to soften. This was actually fairly easy for him, so I think he had the idea of it already in his head. It was nice though to feel him move slightly and for his trot to improve as we went.
While trotting around, he did toss his head as he had been the previous rides. I asked Trainer J if she thought it was a pain response or just him being annoyed. She didn’t think it was a pain response, but she thought it might be him anticipating being forced into the contact, so I should keep my hands as light as possible and let him reach down and find the light contact. He will get there contact-wise. No need to force him.
The last thing we did was work on our downward transitions. Ezio is quite happy to go slower at any moment. I don’t have to fight him to go but the stop is really really there. Too much there actually. I explained to Trainer J that any time we did a downward transition, he just pumped the brakes and dumped all his weight on his forehand. It’s quite jarring.
So we did a bit of transition work. She wanted me to try to sensitize him to an exhale and ask so there is just a hair more time for him to prepare himself for the transition. This was very difficult with him but we got one really good transition and I called the lesson there after praising the crap out of him. We’d been riding for 45 minutes at that time and I’d been riding him about 30 minutes at a time. I don’t know how often he was worked before I purchased him so I don’t want to push him too hard.
Trainer J is of the same opinion as me. Working him lightly for a while as we build up strength will be good. And after all he is only four. We’ve got plenty of time.
I focused on the things we worked on during the lesson over this last week of riding. I tried my best to not drill him. We’ve definitely gotten better at the walking in front of my leg without me doing the work for him. But the other stuff not as much. The transitions are still crap. So hopefully we can work a bit more on those next lesson. We also broke our steering to the left this week. I couldn’t figure out what was going on but he would NOT TURN LEFT. I could haul him around and he still wanted to ignore it. I think it was my fault, since I kinda figured it out by the end of the week. I think with the softening to the leg cue, I was using my hands a little more to try to get him to soften as well. So I stopped using my hands as anything but barriers to guide the shoulders and added a ton more outside leg along with overexaggerating turning with my core. We kinda got it by Saturday. It was not pretty though.
I’m still super excited as we are making progress together. I find new and exciting (sometimes I say that last part sarcastically) baby things to be working on. Like backing. There was no reverse button installed. He’s actually picking that one up quickly. He’s different from other horses that I’ve ridden as he doesn’t respond to increased pressure at all until he figures out what you’re asking. He just ignores it rather than trying to do something. So everything needs to be clear and in small steps. Another fun baby thing was do not let your focus zone out. Ever. I let my focus drift in a walk break for just a moment and he decided he wanted to hug the fence. My leg being in the way was of no consequence. So now I have a lovely gash in my knee and I need a new pair of breeches.
I can moan about baby behavior but I’m still loving it. I haven’t found a moment where I regret purchasing him yet. Of course, it’s only been a month. Give it a little more and he might find the end of my rope. But I plan to do my best to not let that happen. We will both be calm and try our best together.