After a slow start to my riding year due to weather, I now have 15 rides with Shiloh and 10 with Piper. I recently brought out my Pivo recording device to get some video documentation of how we are doing. I like to use photos and videos to mark progress as well as observe problem areas.
While I am generally pleased with my Pivo, sometimes it loses me entirely. I was disappointed to miss out on recording some groundwork “firsts” with Piper due to this issue. My husband graciously agreed to videotape my first rides over my new trail bridge so I wouldn’t miss out.
The first time I presented Piper to the bridge in hand, the most he was willing to do was sniff, lick and put one hoof on the bridge.
Side note: All video clips are 16 seconds or less (except for the final video which is under two minutes).
The second day, I could easily lead him over it (that’s the day my Pivo stopped tracking). So with my husband and camera at hand, on the third day, we hand-walked the bridge cross wise and length wise.
Then we did our first ride over it.
I regret my horsemanship during our first lengthwise crossing. I was herky-jerky with my aids as I tried to keep Piper forward and straight. The bridge is quite narrow. It is surprising how difficult it is to keep your horse on top and not fall off the sides. I used way too much hand and not enough seat/leg on that first attempt.
Somehow, despite my mistakes, Piper seemed game to try it again. On our second go, we went much better.
We interspersed the obstacle work with leaving the round pen for little “trail rides” on the grassy areas. Here is our first time leaving the round pen this year.
I continue to toggle between using a Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle and the eggbut snaffle bit with Piper. He is less likely to put his nose on his chest as well as less likely to ferociously chew the bit than he was last year with me. His balance in movement is still largely downhill, though. At his estimated age of 21 and with how his croup is higher than his withers, I’m not sure how much I will be able to affect that.
I can also see and feel stiffness in his way of going. Again, not surprising at his age. Bending is especially difficult. I try to arrange his body parts for a bend as we turn. I can feel him just begin to shape himself in a nice “banana bend” but then wiggle out of it and lean around the turn with the inside shoulder dropping down.
My understanding was that he spent most of his life happily going down the trail. I’m guessing he did little arena work, but I really don’t know.
And if we mostly trail rode, I don’t know that I would have picked up on the bending issue. But since my round pen is my main riding area, the difficulty with bending really stands out to me. When you are riding on a curve all the time and your horse has a hard time bending, it can make things awkward.
I don’t need Piper to do any specific discipline. My only goal for him is to remain suitable for light pleasure riding for as long as possible as he ages. I plan to continue gently playing around with trying to shape him under saddle. We will see what develops. Maybe someday we can even get out on a trail together. Hope springs eternal.
That’s about it for Piper. In an upcoming post, I’ll feature some video clips of what Shiloh and I have been working on together.