Mr Orange has had a couple of weeks off and this week I have begun to bring him back into work. First step a little light ground work reminding us both of our connection, then the following day (yesterday) a lunge with tack on, Mr Orange can be a little cold backed so it was important for me to work him with the saddle on before my bum connected! Although some of the time was spent on two legs, we ended with some beautiful long and low and relaxed transitions. Lunging also gave me the opportunity to really focus in on his body to make sure there was no stiffness or sore spots throughout his body.
This morning I spent some time grooming and mainly cuddling with him before I tacked him up, this has been a routine of mine with all my horses as I believe in friendship on all levels, so a good bit of time spent always sets us up for success. I then walked around in hand to assess his mood once in the arena. Which was hot hot hot! He was fired up and ready to go, it took me around five minutes to get him just to walk. He wanted to hop and jog the moment we left the stable.
Once on it was about changing his mind-set which was excitement with a hint of naughtiness. He is a cheeky boy.
Normally when I first get on I allow a long rein and we just wonder around to loosen us both up however today I rode him with a true contact from the off and did lots of transitions within the walk, on circles and once a little settled popped in a few halts – the upward transitions are always a little troublesome if not excited with tact. So halting before he was a little more “onside” would have been risky and could have resulted in an explosion.
Once he was more rideable I dropped the reins and let him relax completely and stretch down.
It was then we could begin working. Having been patient before I begun asking for more, makes for a happy combination and no arguments. We played around with the trot, asking for a few strides of bounce to establish how strong he was and how much fitness he had lost. The transitions were lovely and smooth! Riding without my chaps a few weeks ago has really helped focus my leg aids.
After about 30mins I cooled him off and that was that, no canter required. Today wasn’t about anything other than time in the saddle and working out where we were in terms of strength and fitness so I could make a plan of how to move forward in a safe and constructive way.
So remember, you don’t always need to do everything in your sessions, its ok just to work in walk. As long as you are learning and building your partnership you don’t have to worry about timescales or doing it all!