And Amber makes an appearance! She’s pretty much always in here, but Tuesday I rode Whisper, then hopped on Amber. I’ll start with Whisper first.
It really is lovely being on such a subtle ride again. Most of the time you merely have to think turn, or think stop or just think something and Whisper will do it. Which is good and bad haha. When I let her do that, then she tends to anticipate what I’m going to do instead of waiting for me to ask, and then she gets so upset because she got it wrong. So, it’s a fun game of keeping things different for Whisper, while maintaining that something has to move for the cue – legs + voice for forward; rein and/or leg for turning amongst other things. Whisper has a hard time with the waiting game, but she’s also come to trust that when I ask her for something, I in turn will wait for her if I can feel she’s trying to figure things out.
So for such a sensitive horse that really knows her stuff, we mostly work on finesse, with a bit of basics thrown in there. Basics being moving forward into the bridle, reminding her to continue pushing her hocks underneath her. Her right lead canter is more difficult for her – she likes to revert back to tilting her hip in a little too much and letting her nose and shoulders point towards the fence. So it’s just a matter of reminding her to keep her body straight. It feels weird tho – like we’re in slow mo haha. Which I suppose we sort of are.
It’s also fun to play around with bits with her. I can definitely tell that she was schooled in a snaffle and that she absolutely remembers. I’ve been noticing in the videos my mom’s taken for me that Whisper is closer to being too slow than when she’s in a shank bit. She’s in a simple shank, with the same Myler type mouthpiece (it’s just not a Myler) as I use on Amber. In the next few days I’m going to use a soft ported shank on her, to see how she does before going back to what I’ve been using as her schooling bit – the Myler-ish one. And then potentially see which of the shanks work. Whisper is fun to do this with, though. I can find out more about her previous training based on the bit I’m using and her response to it – pretty fascinating to me. Amber, however….yeah, no haha. I’ve attempted to play around with bits for her…. It’s either the Myler or things don’t work so well.
I’ve also got 4 poles set up around the arena to use as exercises and just getting her more comfortable with them. Then I work on the finesse – keep a small bend around my inside leg, don’t look to the outside, sweetie, pace is good, not too flat, let’s lift, oh hey that worked! big improvement honey, I’m so proud – you know, the works haha.
For me, I’m always trying to overpraise her when she doesn’t overreact to something. Since she’s easily worked up, when she chooses to be calm I make sure to pet her. Even if she made a mistake, but through the mistake she’s stayed with me, she gets wither scratches. This has proved to improve her attitude by leaps and bounds. She knows she’s not supposed to step on poles – no horse wants to canter and step on poles purposefully. So I praise her for thinking and relaxing through the mistake, we try again, and when she gets it right she gets to stop and/or gets tons of praise. She did have a moment as you can see in the video where she wheees! over one of the poles, and I bring her to a trot before resuming the canter. At that point I was correcting the quality of her canter, and I think that thought in my mind makes a difference to her. She can tell I’m not attempting to correct her try over the pole, just the fact that she blew past my request to slow down after the pole (she’s so WILD about it isn’t she? lol).
After that, the poles weren’t really a problem. She remained relaxed, and I wanted to let her find her way over them. After a few times where I let her move up to the pole since she was worried, she’s hit it wrong, and after that it’s like she says “okay, I’ll let you help me. please help?” and it’s easier for me to ask for that mini half halt, or just let her keep pace and it works out. But I know not every horse is like that haha.
I worked on her spins a bit – or more like turns. Amber spins AND turns. Whisper just turns. No fast reining moves for this slow poke lol. But I do incorporate certain aspects of teaching and working on spins with Whisper that has made her turns more successful and in turn has improved certain aspects of her lope. With the buttons of hers I’ve been playing with, Whisper has been very trusting, and she gets many face loves after her rides. She’s a cool gal.
Afterwards, I tacked up Amber, and off on a walkabout we went! She was SO EXCITED. She walking so fast lol. She even started jigging, but it was a different jig than before. Before she’d be behind my leg and stop. This time, it felt that if I asked her to go, and slipped into 2 pt, off we’d go towards a cross country course. It was a fun feeling. She was also an angel. Despite her jigging and her being so excited and not having been out in forever, when a big dually truck sped by us, she just shook her head with a few jog steps, and then walked. Such a good pony.
So, since she’s played a bit in the arena during turnout – meaning she loped with a few bucks from one side to the other then called it quits – I decided we’d walk back to the arena and I’d let her lope around a little. She started off on the wrong lead and I wasn’t going to push, but when she tried to switch her leads, I think her hind leg hitched a bit and then she tripped….Oh sweetheart haha. but her ears were forward, and while she didn’t feel her most comfortable, she definitely felt happy. We did a little to the other side, and when she came back to the trot a second time I called it quits since she felt like she was done. I know she misses being ridden, and having a job. I just want this freakin tooth and abscess to heal so we can finally get the arthroscopy done on her stifle.
And speaking of her abscess…. It filled with a bit of puss again. After a chat with the vet, I took a very alcohol soaked needled and poked a hole in the mushiness. Some help and a bit of squishing with a towel, I got a good bit of puss out. Hopefully now that it has 2 parts to drain, it’ll drain a little better. One of the vet assistants was passing my way, so she was able to give me some more antibiotics. So Amber started them this morning, and hopefully this’ll finally kick this. I mean, really, Amber.
Then, Whisper and I had a fun day on Wednesday! She was already turned out, so I just put her bridle on, hopped on, and had a play day with her. She was awesome! I haven’t done a ride with her bridleless and bareback in years! Whisper was amazing, and was so willing to take my direction. I still absolutely love this girl.
Hopefully the video isn’t too long for you guys. Please feel free to fast forward to our bareback ride starting at 7:57 and tackless at 10:38. Whisper doesn’t go that fast lol.