I don’t often post ride recaps unless something out of the ordinary happens, and last night definitely counts as out of the ordinary because I did a thing. I rode my giant, occasionally scary, Copperhorse outside in the open field while at the barn alone. Generally when I ride him alone, I do a walk trot ride in the barn, and while these used to be fulfilling because it was an improvement over not riding him at all, here lately, I’m not super interested in a barn ride on Copper. I’ve long since given up on riding Paige in the barn…so boring…so it isn’t much of a surprise that riding Copper in there has lost its novelty since he’s been such a solid ride the last few months.
He and Paige have been at the top of the hill by the barn since his chiro appointment and the rest of the herd has been down in the big field, so when I went to catch him, he was reluctant to leave Paige. I still find their weird bond of necessity comical, so I just laughed at him when I was leading him into the barn while he screamed back over his shoulder for Paige. Then I got a tiny bit nervous, because what if he was herd sour once I got on? I shook it off pretty easily once we were in the barn, he was tied, and I was grooming him. He was making eyes at his empty grain pan, but was otherwise pretty chill. I decided to ride him western since it is kind of my safe place, and we went outside and mounted. I’ve been carrying a crop with me ever since Courtney came to visit, so when I asked him to trot and he was unresponsive, he got a whack with the bright yellow crop, to which he responded with a few very lame trot strides. What. The. Heck. So I dismounted and checked his feet, because it felt like he just had a rock in a foot…but all feets were clean. At this point I was kind of grumbly. I decided to see if he’d work out of it, as it felt a lot more severe under saddle than it looked when I asked him to lunge around me (split reins for the win!).
Sure enough, when I got back on, he had a few more wonky steps before evening out to a more normal trot. Phew. Hopefully my assumption about him stepping on a rock was correct and he doesn’t have some sort of weirdness brewing. He was a little looky when Paige walked out of sight once, but never called to her and was pretty easy to refocus on the task at hand. As usual, I was mainly worried about the cantering since that’s when the Copperhorse gets springy and catches air occasionally. I’ve still been working on long trotting him on a 20 meter circle, then nudging him into the canter, so I started by doing that while trying to feel for the lameness from earlier. Obviously if he’s in pain for some reason, I don’t want to push the previously sour about canter transitions horse to canter while he’s in pain. He picked up the correct lead and cantered to where I normally let him stop, which is right before the downhill portion of our circle. Since he heavily implied that he wanted to stop there, I pushed him back into a big trot, and since I’m not super comfortable having a canter transition on the side of a hill, asked him for the canter again once we were on level ground. This time the poor sap had to canter two 20 meter circles before I let him quit. 😉
I know this may seem like the simplest thing, but I’m notoriously bad for asking for the canter, then just going passive for however many strides I’m given. I don’t bother to steer, so circles don’t happen super often. So the fact that I used my seat and legs to keep cantering and actually ride the freaking horse is an accomplishment. Copper remained unfazed by my ambitious riding, though he did make these funny snorting noises every few strides as if I were making him work way too hard.
At this point we reversed and hit the trot work going the other way. He seemed a little off going this way at first, but not nearly as bad as before, and he worked out of it with a couple trotting circles. The first time I went to ask him to canter, he was expecting it, and picked it up before I actually asked, which is something that makes me a little nervous so I said “trot” to him and he came back down to me easily. Of course, this isn’t helped by the fact that I always ask him to canter in the same place on the circle since the incline there encourages him to pick up the correct lead. So we did a couple more trot circles and I got crafty and asked him for the canter in a bizarre part of our circle to throw him off guard and he picked it up flawlessly and we cantered a circle going that way. This plan kind of came back to bite me, because it meant that he wasn’t anticipating the canter in the ONE location anymore, but the entire circle. Ha. Ha. Ha. So he got a LOT of trot work going this way on the circle with me verbally reminding him to trot when he felt like he wanted to launch off. Despite this, I felt good on him and wasn’t very nervous. I consciously reminded myself to breathe when I felt tense, and didn’t even get flustered when he kept trying to canter off with me (well, not really off with me as much as offering to canter the 20 meter circle instead of trotting it). Once I’d calmed his jets a little, I asked for the canter again and he was so excited that he very obviously was on the wrong hind lead, so I brought him to the trot and asked again and he was correct. Note that out of maybe eight or ten canter transitions since chiro this is the only one that he has picked up a wrong lead, so I think it has helped with that exponentially.
Since I’d worked with cantering him from unconventional parts of the circle going that way, I wanted to try it going the other way, and we were successful that way as well, though with less anticipation. I think he was starting to get tired at this point and was actually waiting for my cues instead of being so exuberant. After a good circle going that way, I tossed him out on a super long rein and we walked for a while before heading to the barn. I guess it had started to get dark while we were riding, because when I pulled his saddle to put it up, I noticed that it was almost pitch black outside. I also noticed that he was more sweaty than he usually is when I pull his tack, and even had a little butt sweat going on, so it is safe to say we both had a good workout. I’ve always thought that I ride better when no one is watching, so it was interesting to see that I worked my “scary” horse harder when I was at the barn alone than I do when I’m riding with friends.
As usual, he got lots of pets and “good boys” while I was waiting on him to cool down so that I could feed him before tossing him out. I’m super excited about this week because A (who owns Copper’s studly half brother) is going to be visiting on Wednesday and Thursday, so not only will I have someone to ride with, but I’ll likely be able to get new media of me and Copper and some pointers on what
he and I could be doing better. 🙂
Also random disclosure…I did call my Mom and tell her that I was getting on Copper, and that if she didn’t hear from me in a while, she may want to call and check on me. 😉 You know…just in case…