Candy’s been in Oklahoma for two weeks now, and she seems to be adjusting well to life on the great plains. She’s at least as good as Moe at coating herself in a disgusting combination of mud and dried sweat, and is basically unperturbed by the phenomenally ugly faces Gina makes at her through the stall bars.
My rides on her have been as low-key, low-drama as possible- ‘as possible’ is the optimum phrase here! I intended to get her out in the outdoor arena on Saturday before I left for the show, but a downpour made it too muddy for riding. I was stuck sharing the indoor arena with a couple of small children; they belonged to some of the barn owner’s in-laws. It was a veritable circus in there, what with two youngsters attempting to steer the barn’s obstinate miniature horses, a rehabbing miniature horse being hand-walked, and one child obsessed with leading the barn owner’s big dressage horse in a jog around the arena. I didn’t ask Candy to do much other than walk around amidst the chaos, which she did very well.
This morning we walked for a long time. There were ground poles set up in the middle of the indoor arena, a single one set perpendicular to a set of two. I let Candy walk on a loose rein up to and over all the poles until she was thoroughly bored. She even clunked her hooves on them a couple of times and barely flicked an ear. That’s a big improvement from a week ago, when she was completely freaked out by hitting them! When I was convinced she was totally unfazed by them, I trotted her over the single pole. She pricked her ears and arched her neck, but trotted steadily over. She did the same for the set of two poles; we repeated this exercise a few more times before taking a long walk break.
I pushed my luck a bit and had her canter both directions before calling it a day. Candy was good- her transitions were prompt and she picked up the correct lead both directions. The indoor arena is small (about 50′ x 100′), so it was hard for her to balance around the tight turns. She has a nice canter, though- she’s forward-thinking and has a nice rhythmic gait. I can easily imagine galloping her on the hunt field or cross-country course!
It’s tempting to push her harder because she’s so eager to please and has absolutely fantastic basics. But I’d rather take things slow and steady, and give her an even firmer foundation for future success. Our next task will be hacking out in the hay meadow with a quiet companion, and then it’ll be on to a trail ride! Boring stuff, maybe, but well worth it.