Doing the bounce

I have been longing to do gridwork with Dayo, and have been putting it off in case she’s “just not ready”. Realizing that this may be more rider consternation than Dayo consternation, I’ve decided that today is the day.

In reality, we’ve been working over basic gymnastics for some time with Margie, and on our own. Today’s exercise will follow up on an exercise Dayo and I worked on last week – trot poles to a cross rail to a “bounce” pole.

Today, we’re going to attempt the real thing. Our ultimate goal is this gymnastic:

Simple grid work diagram Slide1

Because this is new for us, I will be building the grid as follows: trot pole to cross rail to bounce pole. One stride to oxer poles, three strides to cross rail poles, one stride to vertical pole. All jumps will be low to start so we can find our balance.

As we master the grid, I will build each fence up. First up will be the bounce, and we will work toward the end of the line. Our goal will be a happy, balanced and calm session, with no lip flapping and no “grand national” attempts. My awesome videographer Emma is not able to attend today, so updates will be on my honour only. Video to come at a later date!

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Dayo goes to work

This Monday started like many Mondays this summer, an early morning at the barn to avoid the heat of the day to school Chaos in preparation for an upcoming show, and to spend time with Dayo.

Dayo, who had been enjoying some “free time” during the heat wave, also came in for a brushing, to be rinsed, and possibly lunged. This time, the Dayo who came in from the field was different. Usually so well behaved, she danced around Max (who was leading her in), spooked at the white patio chairs by the door, and tried to trample Richard. In the cross-ties, she moved around, pawed, yawned, paced, pushed and pooped. Repeatedly. In the round pen, she spent several minutes busting some pretty impressive moves – half passes, piaffes, a capriole and a ballotade or two… very haute ecole as she was trying to break through the fence before she settled down to be lunged. It turns out that Dayo, the mare who just one month before couldn’t believe she had to spend a night in nature with the mares, had become a little herd bound.

And so, it was officially time to go to work.

So far, one of the great joys of working with Dayo is her absolute calmness in the face of new things. She seems to take everything in stride, and while confidence is an issue for her when she doesn’t know what is expected, she is very trusting with new “ideas”, learns quickly, and does not like to make a mistake. She started the work week with an hour on the cross ties learning to settle down and focus. She was brushed, booted, clipped, polo’ed (several times because someone had rolled the polo bandages up backwards, and bandaging is not one of my core strengths!). Then we took the plunge, and put a saddle on her back.

Of course, the entire adventure was a non-event. The saddle pad went on. Nothing. An Ogilvie pad. Nothing. Saddle. No reaction. Girth came next, with a brief pause for station identification as we tried to figure out sizing (it seems that Evelyn, the consummate Western trainer and rider, has at least one English leather girth in every size from 44″ to 56″!). Dayo stood patiently through it all, resigned to not being with the girls, and interested in watching Evelyn and I sort through the girths. Saddled, Dayo went out to lunge. And she was a pro.

Wednesday, there was a marked improvement in Dayo’s behaviour. She settled right in to the cross ties, was relaxed and calm. We decided to add the bridle. Dayo is track broke, so she has worn one before, but that was five years and a couple of babies ago. Once again, Dayo proved that she is nothing if not reasonable when something is properly presented. She lowered her head, opened her mouth, and voila. We put on some smashing white polos, and took a tacked up and shining mare out for a short photo shoot. Richard very kindly helped her to stand properly (this , I understand, is called showmanship, and apparently I don’t know much about it. I went from “hold your horse” girl to “shake the halter in an interesting way to get the horse to prick up its ears” girl in a matter of seconds!)

Dayo is dressed up and ready to go Dayo look spectacular

Dayo looked spectacular. And she was – she lunged with the bridle Wednesday and Thursday, and has started reading cues so well she will now transition up and down based almost completely on voice and body language.