Monday, January 7, 2013

Warm-up musings

I must say the WonderPony has been out in full force lately.  I've had a couple of really good rides, especially when you consider he spent basically the whole month of December walking.

I've been playing around a bit with our warm-up.  Since Charlie is most definitely a kick kind of ride, I've shifted my focus to the engine.  In the past, I've kind of focused on both ends and felt like I was playing catch-up the whole ride with regards to him being forward.  Sometime back in November, I decided to start each ride with a 10-15 walk around the property as a get your hind-end warmed-up warm-up thing.  My only requirement of Charlie during this time is that he go forward.  The past couple of days I've started with the walk and once in the ring, we go immediately to canter with a light seat and a soft contact.  We do this in both directions and then come back to the trot.  We trot around in each direction again with a light feel of Charlie's mouth and this is my warm-up.  I then go back to the canter and start putting him together in that gait first before going to the trot work.  It seems to be working - typically the trot is where I feel Charlie suck back the most when I pressure him.  It's almost like he gets his confidence in the canter work and that in turn carries into the trot work.  We still don't talk about the walk...

In other news, I've been working on our simple changes.  I haven't really done this before but for some reason it seemed like a good idea.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well we did.  Going right to left, we pretty much only needed one or two trot steps before stepping very quietly back into the canter.  Left to right was a little more difficult but I think that's my weakness coming through (damn right leg!).  I've also been ending every ride with 5-10 minutes of no stirrup work...yucky!  But no pain, no gain, right? ;)

 

I took the above this morning.  I think one of my most favorite and soothing activities is to sit and drink my morning coffee with Charlie as he eats his hay.  There is just something so calming about sitting with my pony as he munches on his morning hay.  He'll occasionally come over and visit for a minute, sniffing my hair or my leg before returning to his munching.  I am a very, very lucky girl.

18 comments:

  1. I may borrow this routine for my hack ride this week it sounds really good! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to be working - he has been much better about moving off the leg since I started this. Let me know how it goes!

      Delete
  2. Like the plan! Houston is like a diesel truck haha. I think our canter work would be fairly discombobulated without some trotting to get the engines going. Glad Charlie has been the wonder pony!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! The mental image of you riding a diesel truck made me giggle! It's so interesting how different each horse is - just like people! Makes me have so much respect for trainers who for the most part have to ride whatever gets tossed their way.

      Delete
  3. I am jealous it's warm enough there in the mornings to sit outside and drink coffee while the pony munches away. it's been in the high teens/low 20's here in the mornings and I am doing well if I even muck Lu's stall before work! I'd rather wait til it warms up in the afternoon to do chores :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - the weather has been crazy here. It's abnormally warm even by SC standards.

      Delete
  4. I start my rides with Archie with a nice big canter too...not that he needs help going forward but it really loosens him up nicely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup - this is exactly why I started doing this. I think being tight in his back is what makes it tough for him to go forward.

      Delete
  5. My trainer has a big chestnut OTTB that is similar. He can act almost rein lame at the trot when his back isn't warmed up properly and can really resist going forward. In the winter, when I've ridden him she'll have me walk him a few laps then get in a light seat and canter him around for a few minutes in each direction. He'll even throw in a few tiny bucks to release his back a bit, but afterwards the trot work is so much easier for him. Horses are such interesting puzzles to figure out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so agree - total puzzle. Guess that's why you have to enjoy the journey because if you don't, you're just wasting your time.

      Delete
  6. That is such a good idea for a warm up, I'll have to remember that :) Gatsby I always start with trot and then move to the canter, as he can get over excited!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! I wish Charlie got excited - he's so pokey!

      Delete
  7. Your warm-up sounds great for Charlie. Glad you've been having some good rides.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Henry always feels better after we canter too!

    Good job doing some no stirrups work girl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - I need all the encouragement I can get. I hate riding without stirrups! Although, I do feel so much tighter after I'm done...sigh...

      Delete
  9. The canter is definitely the key to get Cara to loosen up and break free of that 'shell' she occasionally starts rides with. Happy to hear your rides are going well :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Shell is a good way to put it - you almost have to ignore the first 15 minutes of the ride as he works out where his body parts are.

      Delete