A Sunday off, at home—it doesn’t get any better than that! Sunrise in the hot tub, reading, Meet the Press, workout, breakfast. Oh yeah, and the blog.
I have to make an unplanned business trip tomorrow morning to Springfield MO for a TV show taping. It’s for a cool new show on RFD sponsored by PFI Western Store and will be a Western lifestyle/home shopping show. I’ll be the “celebrity host” in the first two shows and Leon Harrel, of cutting horse fame, will do two shows as well. I think it will be a lot of fun. At the very least, I am looking forward to being in a huge tack store because there are a few things I need. I may be doing some ‘home shopping’ on the road.
I’ll be doing a section on saddles, saddle fit for you and the horse, position in the saddle and other topics. My part will be easy, particularly since it is stuff I do all the time in demos. All the hard part will be done by the crew.
I finally rode Dually on Friday evening in the wet and freshly groomed arena. To me that is as good as a fresh powder day on the mountain. After five days off, grazing green grass on top of his regularly power-packed concentrate ration, I suspected Dually might be a little fresh. To my surprise, he was pretty mellow, but I could feel a slight coil to his body so I knew we’d have to make some tracks and let him blow his lungs out a little.
I do not like to work a horse hard—mentally– on his first day back after a brief lay-off or even after the weekend off. To me, the work week on a horse has a pattern. Let’s say he’s following the M-F workweek... Monday will be a “get back to work day and we’ll get the cob webs out. On Monday, I hope to start the training session at the same place I left him the Friday before. Tuesday will be more of the same—reviewing what we do well and a little more physical work. On Wednesday, we’ll progress his training, ask a little more, be more demanding, teach him something new. Thursday will be a day to review the old and new stuff, ask for a couple hard things—practice our weakest skills. Friday is TGIF! On Fridays, I try to have a mellow ride and do something different—pleasure ride out in the field, go on a trail ride, challenge the obstacle course. On Fridays, I make darn sure I leave the horse in the state of mind I want him to start with next Monday—happy, alert, feeling good about himself.
In an effort to produce more riding workouts on audio, I’ve been developing a workout routine for various types of rides like the fresh horse, the forward horse, the disobedient horse, the lazy horse, etc. Here’s my recipe for a workout for the fresh horse— that’s the one I get the most practice at.
Begin tracking right at a walk on a very loose rein, letting the horse stretch his neck and back.
Go two times around and reverse directions.
Go two times around tracking left, then slowly gather horse up into a low but slightly collected frame.
At the next corner, make at least three very small circles at the walk (about 12” or 3-4 meters), paying very close attention to the arc of the horse and the correctness of the bend.
Once the horse makes a nice circle, let him go straight down the rail to the next corner.
Repeat circles in the next three corners so the horse has gone all the way around the arena, making multiple circles in each corner.
Reverse and repeat circles all the way around the arena tracking right.
Trot on a loose rein, tracking right at a medium speed a few times around or about five minutes.
Reverse across the diagonal and long–trot for about five minutes to the left.
Transition to the medium-slow, slightly collected sitting trot and at the next corner, make three small trot circles to the left (about 20’) focusing on bend and obedience on the circle.
Make multiple circles to the left at each corner all the way around the arena. After three circles, only release the horse to straightness down the rail when he has made a very correct circle.
Trot to the middle of the next short side of the arena, turn left and proceed straight down the centerline, tracking right at the trot at the other end.
Sitting trot all the way around the arena making multiple right circles at each corner.
Continue down the rail tracking right and walk, letting horse catch breath (if needed) for canter. Gather up horse in prep for canter.
Medium canter right lead around the rail or for 5-7 minutes.
Go down the rail, past the short side of the arena, then turn right and come across the diagonal—to the opposite corner; changing leads at center and tracking left at the corner.
Slower canter around the rail tracking left for 5-7 minutes.
Circle left 5 times at least 20 meters or the full width of the arena.
Go past the next short side and reverse across the diagonal and change to right lead, tracking right.
Circle right 5 times at least 20 meters or full width of the arena.
Go straight down the rail and find the perfect spot to ask your horse to halt (away from the gate, horse nice and straight).
Let him stand for a couple minutes to catch his breath, then walk. The horse is thoroughly warmed up!
After 5-10 minutes of walking, gather horse up in preparation for a cue.
Ask the horse for simple but accurate transitions at markers on the rail placed around your arena: slow trot, extended trot, slow trot, walk, trot, extend, halt, slow trot, slow canter, fast canter, slow canter, etc.
Reverse and repeat an equal number of transitions in the other direction.
Cool him out and put him away.
That’s my Monday morning workout. Give it a try! I am glad to get it down on “paper” so I can work toward getting it recorded. This is a long blog and I apologize! I’ll try to write while I am on the road the next few days. It should be a good trip!
Enjoy the day!