Flatwork and a small disaster

Schmoodle was clean, shiny and ready for a coat of hoof polish when I reached into the bottom of my grooming box and discovered, to my horror, that my new bottle of Cowboy Magic tail detangler had spilled all over. I mean, the bottom layer of brushes and products was sitting in an inch of silicone. Let me tell you, people: that stuff does NOT come off. I tried hot water, cold water, many different kinds of soap, even rubbing alcohol…no dice. Oy vey. I’m going to be flinging slippery brushes every which way for the next few weeks before it wears off. Also, that bottle was FORTY DOLLARS and my previous bottle lasted me FOUR YEARS. Back to the tack shop I go, grudgingly, because that stuff works miracles and smells great.

If anyone out there is a) reading this and b) has had anything similar happen before – please tell me what you did to get all the slimy stuff off!

Yeah, this stuff. ALL FORTY DOLLARS' WORTH.

Yeah, this stuff. ALL FORTY DOLLARS’ WORTH.

After I recovered from the shock horror of my grooming box mess, I had a pretty good flat school, though Schmoodle came out high as a kite for some reason. Was it the cold? The mooing cows down the street? The approaching storm clouds? Unsure, but he was way more tense than last week. Despite this, he gave me some good trot work as long as I thought of pushing forward into the bridle. He was tense in the jaw and ribcage in canter and I had to really get after him to get him to unlock laterally. The horse who would, last week, lengthen, shorten, and yield side to side at my slightest thought was not present tonight, but he definitely could have been worse.

I set myself up a circle of death with cavalletti at 12 and 3 and poles at 6 and 9 [because 12 and 3 were located closer to where the heavy cavelletti are stored. Lazy girl problems.] I walked a normal five between each. We rode the four elements in all kinds of permutations and Schmoodle was quite good, if short in the neck and tense at first. When I got seven strides from pole to pole the first time through, I knew I needed to GO MORE FORWARD. Eventually we progressed to slicing from cavalletti to cavalletti in four strides, which worked out quite nicely in each direction. I reeeeally need to get 100% comfortable with riding with lots of pace and continuing to come forward until I see a distance, rather than waiting and letting the canter get smaller and smaller.

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My circle of death. Those clouds do look ominous.

We also worked on small turns on landing, following our slight issue with that last lesson. I had to bring Schmoodle back to walk and correct with the whip a couple of times to get my message (“don’t dive into my inside leg!”) across – he is very whip-shy so if I hit him in canter, we tend to teleport halfway across the ring, accomplishing nothing but more tension. I also focused on getting the lead in the air without twisting or leaning. Overall, a good performance on Schmoodle’s part: I was able to work off a big canter and bring him back into balance on landing without a big production.

I rode without spurs (my normal ones are small roller balls) to make sure the response to my leg aid was quite sharp. Tomorrow, we shall use draw reins to the billets to re-emphasize the need for a long neck and uphill balance (with spurs, because as my trainer M says, “Using draw reins without spurs is like going to the bar without underwear: you’re just asking for trouble.”)

Dumb horsemanship move of the night: As I was walking Schmoodle out, he stopped next to one of the “scary” jump fillers set up in the ring. I let him sniff it, but he decided to instead take a bite of the plastic ferns and pull the whole gate down on himself, scaring the crap out of himself and thus completing his self-fulfilling prophecy: That gate is scary and if I approach it it will bite me.

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