Ike

So before we dive into my thoughts on our latest tune up with Ms. C and my other rides this week, I first need to discuss our avian friends who have befriended Ike. They look like sparrows. If you ask me to get more specific, I will have to say that they are brown and white sparrows that have decided that my horse makes a great target.

I have checked Ike’s back when I groomed him this week and could not find a bull’s-eye, but I have found copious amounts of bird poo all over his coat. Ugh. None of the other horses in Ike’s barn appear to have this problem. The birds seem to like Ike’s stall – perhaps it is the blend of his food or the fact that he is a slob and tosses grain everywhere…a veritable avian smorgasbord. It could be worse – at least we aren’t overrun by mice.

I had my own “bird incident” earlier this evening. I give you permission to laugh now… We have a 3 foot tall white crane carved out of driftwood that stands in our dining room. Found him at the Ocrafolk Festival on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. He usually stands quietly in his corner, but today as I bent over while vacuuming, he “attacked” me. Got me right in the corner of my left eye. Pretty sure I will have a black and blue eye in the morning. Going to be really pretty.

Bird issues aside, Ike and I have had some pretty good rides this week. As the weather has turned colder, Ike has decided to be a bit cranky to my legs during warm up. Lots of walk/trot and trot/walk transitions until he settles into the work. The transitions seem to help him focus.

Yesterday, we spent most of our ride working on transitions between walk and trot. Walk from one letter to the next, ask for trot, trot to the second letter, walk again, change direction and start over. I did most of the work in sit trot. Yeah for me – there is a glimmer of hope that I will master that skill. I also focused on letting go of my inside rein death grip. I had someone reply to me that when they start to pull on the inside rein, they tell themselves to go to their inside leg. I decided to test that for myself and it really did seem to help. I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to let go until it becomes second nature. Any idea how long that takes?

After a crazy work week and conflicting schedules, Ms. C and I finally fit my weekly tune up in this afternoon. Ike was a bit frazzled. Instead of just walk/trot transitions for warm up, Ms. C had us do trot/walk/almost halt/back up and then trot on. At first, Ike wasn’t quite sure what we were asking, but smart boy that he is quickly caught onto the game.

It is another great tool to have in the tool box when you need to get your horse in front of your leg and focused. Our walk/trot work was good, but I could still tell Ike was on edge. Not sure whether it was the kids on the four-wheelers or just because it was one of those days, but we had to abandon the thought of canter pretty quickly. Ike busted out a canter at the beginning and that just seemed to stoke the fire.

Once we redirected his attention and I half halted until my arms ached, Ike did demonstrate a faaah-buuulll-ous collected trot. Ms. C told me to remember the feeling – it is where we want to go. We then worked on shoulder-fore and shoulder in since Ms. C was there to help me with the positioning. We struggle tracking right. Ike’s right shoulder is so dominant and it felt like a 50-pound weight in my right rein. Ms. C came over and offered ground assistance to help me release the “block” in Ike’s neck. It makes a huge difference when she helps from the ground.

We finally had a few successful moments to the right. Tracking left was a breeze. Such a shame that dressage tests want you to be proficient in both directions.

Glad this week is done. Time to soak my aching muscles in the hot tub. At least there shouldn’t be any birds out tonight.

Allison