Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pony Progress

  I haven't been posting much because Laura has been competing at Bishop Mule Days, the world's largest mule show. Anyways, I recently rode Pistachio, the pony I have been riding off and on since last fall. When I first got him out, he was being pretty obnoxious and hot, trying to test me as I had not ridden him in several months. Just when I entered the round pen and was ready to ask him to lunge, he just cantered off and wouldn't listen when I asked him to slow down. Rather than letting myself get frustrated, I decided to pull him into a really tiny circle around me–the rope between my hand and his head was maybe three feet. I breathed deeply and relaxed in hopes of getting him relaxed. It worked! Gradually, I let him out on bigger circles.

 Before long, he was trotting calmly around me. In fact, he was perhaps even more relaxed than he has ever been since I first started riding him. If you have been reading for a while, you may remember that when I first started riding him, he did not relax at all and wouldn't walk on a loose rein. Now, I had him lungeing calmly around me, slowing almost immediately when I said, "Whoa." He even cantered calmly to the right. He was a little less balanced and  therefore less relaxed to the left, but that was no fault of his own; every horse and pony has a "bad" side. 

 He was just as good under saddle as he had been when I lunged. Like the last time I had ridden Lucky, I tried being extra soft when riding Pistachio. Pistachio was very sensitive to my aids. Mostly, I just looked where I wanted him to go, and he went there. 

 Because he was doing so well, I decided to canter him a lot on circles. It's not easy for him to balance on circles in the canter, especially to the left, without falling into the trot. He needs the support of the inside leg from his rider. I worked on a trot circle to the right first since that side is easier for him. Once he felt ready, I asked for the canter. I made it almost all the way around before he fell into the trot. It was really my fault, because I cut the circle in and didn't make the final quarter wide enough. The next time around, he cantered around the circle beautifully. With short trot breaks in between, I cantered several more circles to the right, then went around the arena immediately following the circle.

 Circling left at the canter took a little more work, so I cantered him once around the entire arena on to the left before trying a circle. He needed a lot more support to keep him balanced on a canter circle to the left. Even so, I managed to get several nice circles. 

 I reward Pistachio with lots of pats for doing so well that ride. It may seem like a small thing to get nice canter circles, and for most horses and ponies it is, but for Pistachio who is primarily a driving pony ridden only by me, it is a big deal. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am better rider than when I first started riding him. Nevertheless, he has improved a lot since the first time I rode him. I love that I can try some of the things I have learned on my own with a pony that does not have nearly as much dressage training as Lucky. 


  1. very cool that you've been able to apply your lessons with Laura to Pistachio!


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