Gosh, I've been super laggy with the blog posting lately. I was having issues with youtube uploads of the dressage tests from 2 weekends ago and have been just very busy at work (I have to work at work instead of reading and writing horsey blog posts?!?!).
Anywho, so here's a brief catch-up dump post. Hopefully I will make time to expand on some topics shortly.
XC School on Memorial Day
This past Monday my office was closed for the holiday so we adventured El Sueno Equestrian Center in Somis for a cross-country school. El Sueno is the home of upper level event rider and trainer Debbie Rosen, and they have a nice field of cross country obstacles including water, banks, ditches, and plenty of logs, and some good areas of terrain sloping. Hemie was completely game - smart but brave, very responsive but willing to move forward. The coolest jump was actually a section of a live oak tree that had fallen down. See expert artistic rendition:
We had a very successful outing. Only one refusal, but it was honest and square at a BN or N sized log. No run-outs, no spooking. Hemie had his big boy pants on and was a true pleasure for this outing.
First Ride Sans Bridle
The morning of our XC school at El Sueno, I decided to spend some quality, low-pressure time with Hemie so that we could both just relax and hang with each other. So I put him in the round pen with nice sand footing and he played around for a bit. Then I put his halter on and tied the lead to make reins, and practiced head/neck flexions from either side. I strapped on my helmet and safety vest, and mounted up bareback. He walked forward one step, then got completely stuck: he flung his head into the air, hollowed his back, and started to think about getting light with his front end. I just sat deep and square and patted his neck to let him know that everything would be ok. He flicked an ear back, then relaxed his whole body and stood squarely. I gave him a tiny squeeze and he moved forward about 5 steps. Again stuck. Then again relaxed. And that was the end of it. Didn't take him too long to realize he could actually walk around with me on his back without a bit in his mouth. After a few minutes we were trotting along, turning, and bending to boot. I'm turning him into a true backyard pleasure horse.
Did the follow-up fecal test, came back negative for all types. Whew. I've got a super gross picture I'll be sure to share soon!
My horse is too skinny so I've been making some changes to his feed. More detailed post coming soon - I love getting everyone's opinions on feeds!
Long and Low
Hemie has discovered the joys of stretching his neck down and lifting his back up! Over the last 2 months or so we've been able to get him to do this for a few strides at a time, at most lessons but not all. Over the last 2 weeks it's really come around - Hemie is offering it -- no, he's taking the rein down into a stretchy walk, trot, or even canter (!!!) at the slightest cue. Only 1 or 2 strides later he lifts his back and it is VERY evident when he does - I'm physically lifted into the air by a few inches! And he is keeping it long and low for quite a while now - say, 10 to 15 strides at a time, and he probably would go longer but I end it because, hey, we've got other things to work on too.
Post Purchase Vet Exam
I've got our vet coming out tomorrow afternoon to do x-rays, maybe some flexions, palpations, and physical exam. Basically it's the pre-purchase exam I should have done ages ago, and a way to establish a baseline in case issues come up in the future. Please keep your fingers crossed and send good vibes for a fully healthy horse exam.