May 22, 2014

Back in the Tack

It's been a great week on the riding front. The weather finally came around on Friday, and EB asked if I'd be free to ride Hugo on Saturday. Of course! It was lovely weather and a beautiful day to ride. The only mistake I made that day was forgetting sunblock. I ended up with one heck of a farmer's tan burn. To make it worse, before I realized how burnt I was, I of course drove around town with my Jeep windows down, so my driver's side arm was far more burnt than my other arm. In hindsight I should have spent the extra twenty minutes driving home and back to the barn for some sunblock. I like to say that with age comes wisdom. That saying makes me feel better about getting older. However, this is a good example of that not being the case. Oh well.

Best view in the world.
At any rate, on Saturday, Hugo seemed happy to see me, but also seemed to have completely forgotten who I was once I hopped on him. He tried some silly evasive maneuvers, which he's gotten away with in the past with other riders. He QUICKLY remembered who I was at that point though and knocked it off and got down to business and we had a nice ride. Lots of walk/trot transitions and leg yields.

Prior to the ride though, I of course longed him. Since this summer, at least, is the summer of learning to longe like a polite grown up horse. That means he gets longed before every single ride, whether he "needs it" or not. He was great at the walk and trot, so I decided to ask for a canter and see what I got. Right now the goal is to get him cantering in circles nicely on command, without him bolting off across the arena, longeline in tow. He was a very good boy and gave me one nice circle before coming down to a halt and being rewarded for his efforts. I stopped longeing him at that point to just make it very clear that that was the correct behavior and he was a good boy. Gold star for Hugo.

On Monday night, the weather was once again in my favor to ride, however it had poured rain on Sunday, so the arena was a soggy mess. We kept things quiet and easy and at the walk-trot only.

Yesterday night, things had dried up and the weather once again was beautiful. We cantered one circle in each direction on the longeline before ending his longe lesson. Two gold stars for Hugo. Then undersaddle, we did our usual routine, but cantered in both directions on a 20m circle. He is getting better at cantering from the leg cue, instead of the kissy sound, which is encouraging. However, I was unable to get him to pick up his left lead canter. I think it is partially an old habit (never being asked for the correct lead as a trail horse) and lack of muscle. With practice and time he should start to get it eventually. He certainly canters on his left lead when running around on his own. So he does have it.

Just chillin' at the hitching post. Ready to go to work.
That is my big goal for under saddle work for him for the moment. Left lead canter. He is such an easy going boy, he's just a pleasure to hang out with and ride. I can see him being a really nice steady eddie school master in a few years.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


  1. Sounds like you're having a lot of fun with him. :D Does he pick up the left lead on the longe line?

    1. I have only asked him to canter on the longe to the left once so far, and no he did not pick up the left lead. He is getting shoes in a couple weeks, so we will see if that makes a difference at all. He does pick it up when he's in turn out, however he always defaults to the right lead when he is on a straight away. It's interesting, given that he was a racehorse.

    2. Maybe that's why he didn't make it as a racehorse hehehehe!! I had a mare that wouldn't pick up the left lead either. The only time she'd switch is during a long gallop when she got tired she would switch to her left lead. I was a kid then so I had no clue about leads and never taught her any different. When they only use one for a long time it's hard to teach them to do the other, but it is possible! I bet he will figure it out as he gets stronger. I'm glad you're having fun with him (well not having to wait on shoes, but you know what I mean)!

      Oh I almost forgot... this is totally a shot in the dark, but do you think side reins would help him get the correct lead? If you had the inside one a bit shorter than the outside... maybe the correct bend would help him get the correct lead? I have no idea if that would work because I've never tried it. It just popped into my head so I thought I would share. :D



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