April 26, 2009

Buds are bursting

Taking on a young horse is a time consuming project.
It requires a lot of dedicated work and patience.
I bought Fame when she was three, she is six now.
It has been a long road of establishing the basics, not only when it comes to the dressage work - but with everything else that is included in the day-to-day life of a horse that has to behave among humans.

I had a dressage lesson on Friday, and after we had finished I went through in my mind what we have been working with the last half year.
In the autumn/beginning of the winter I was working with her contact and engagement.
I had to get her better engaged over her back and in her hind legs, and thus establishing a better contact on the bit. When asked to work more, she wanted to increase speed instead, and tense up in the neck and back.

This improved over time.
Entering 2009 she put in the necessary energy, but the problem was instead that she turned a bit deaf when I asked her to slow down, or make a half halt.
She still tensed up sometimes in the neck.

Now I feel that things are falling into place.
The last weeks she has been a pleasure to ride.
Soft and through in her body, and listening to the aids.
I want her to relax and be so submissive that she goes a bit jelly-like in the crest of her neck, and she has been working really good right from the start of the lessons lately.
I feel that after that dedicated session with the canter diagonals where she took off, something happened.
Her canter work has improved, not only in the arena but also out hacking.
She is definately getting stronger, and of course that helps.

But in a way, I feel that all that earlier work we have been doing, all those hours in all weathers, finally is paying off.
My little pony bud is bursting into a dressage horse.

And it is just wonderful.

Today we took a day off from dressage work and went trail riding again.
I decided to ride her bareback out on trail for the first time.
The last months I've been riding her bareback in the arena in average once a week, and taken some small trips in the forest just to cool off, but we have never taken a long trip.
But today was the day.
When we came down to the creek, the water level was quite high.

I just placed my legs as high up the sides of Fame as I managed, and out we went.
She almost had to swim, and before we reached the other side I was wet both on my legs and on my bum , the water flowed up along her back...
It looked suspiscius if you get my meaning. Hehum. Luckily we started out early, so there were few people out.
When we got to the other side Fame got a little wild, being proud of herself and letting the tension go. I told her to behave and she did. At least a bit.

We rode up a small gravel road, Heikampen - a very nice riding road, no cars - but we cannot use it in winter time as it is ski paths there then.
People don't get very happy if you ride in them, to put it mildly.
It winds up a about 3 kms, with a steady climb.
During WWII they dropped supplies to the resistance on the top.

Along the way, we have some waterfalls.
Depending on how much water there is further up, they are either small or more powerful.
Can be interesting as it is a steep drop on the other side.
If the horse shies, you might suddenly find yourself uncomfortably close to that side.

Fame used to be quite tense when passing them earlier, but today it was not a problem.
Nice, as I was riding bareback!
We had some canter sessions on the way up.
She was really a good girl, no shying, no speed increase, just working in a nice outline and ready to take a transistion down whenever asked.
When we got to the top, I jumped off and walked down beside her.

Then it's party time for Fame.
We take poo-smelling stops, and grass-eating-stops when there is grass available.
A bit early in the season, but she tried her best!

The snow is almost gone now, and the springflowers are coming up, one by one.
And the trees are soon to burst out too - the buds are swelling.
Springtime is lovely!


Irene said...

Vilket äventyr du har varje gång du rider ut! Vackert är det också. Helt otroliga vägar. Avundsjuk på allt utom vattnet...

Grey Horse Matters said...

She sounds like she has come a long way in 3 years. Good training. It's so nice that you are comfortable enough with her to take her on a trail ride bareback. Such wonderful scenery too, love the waterfalls. Hope you dried off quickly!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You are so brave to ride bareback out in the great wide open.

Once Upon an Equine said...

It sounds like Fame is growing up. It is so nice for you to see all your hard working taking shape. Beautiful ride. I'm guessing that water was pretty cold from snow runoff, right? Misty loves to stop and smell the poopies too.

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks all for your comments!

I am just very grateful.
There are so many things that can go wrong with a young horse. You really don’t know what you get when you buy a horse, but it is even truer when buying a horse that hasn’t been under rider at all.
We have had a long way together during the last three years, ups and downs.
She has always been sensible, but lively – and a horse is a horse, you know. I am not getting any younger, and I have been thinking that she is probably my last youngster.
I hope we will grow old together!
Anyway, these last weeks I feel that it has been a sheer joy to ride her. I know there is so much work left, and what lies ahead of us is more difficult than what lies behind us. Still, the work ahead is more intriguing as it involves more moments of “thinking as one”. I am looking forward to that.

And OnceUpon – yes, the water was cold, lol!
Fame kept me warm through her body heat while drying up, definately an advantage riding bareback!

Kate said...

Sounds like you had a lovely ride, and have made incredible progress with her. You had confidence in her, and now she has confidence in you - hence the ability to cross that deep water!

jc said...

It was interesting to read your story today. Always good to find a new 'horse' blog to follow.

RuckusButt said...

What satisfaction! It must be a great feeling to see all that work come together. I look forward to the day I have my own horse to see the progression over time in both of us. Until then it's slow progress with other people's horses!

I was wondering when you would see signs of spring! When does winter start for you?

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments!

Kate - my horse loves the water. Summertime when she is warm after training, I take her down to the creek to cool off. And she goes wild! She also loves when I hose her down on her neck and chest after training.

jc - thanks, I am glad you enjoyed the post!

Ruckusbutt - when does the winter start?
It depends what part of Norway we are speaking of.
In my part (southeast) it's getting dark in October, and you might have the first snow that month, but then it is early and it doesn't stay.
November is IMO maybe the worst month. It is dark, and you seldom have snow but more often sleet and rain. The ground is frozen and uneven, so you can't work the horses outside and it is also too dark to ride out after work.
December is even darker, but then you might get some snow.
When the snow comes it is no problem to ride out even if it is dark, and you get a good surface to work on both in the arenas and out hacking.

RuckusButt said...

Thanks! It's quite similar here. I also dislike the period right before the snow stays for good! It's dark early and no snow to reflect the light, blah! I'd rather have snow any day.