Since Bella doesn’t have shoes right now this is the perfect time to spend a lot of time focusing on Bella and getting her to build up more muscle. Also reminding her of all the things I really wasn’t working on over the past year while I’ve just been reconditioning her. We’ve touched base on a lot of this stuff but because we’re not preparing for a show or anything I’ve been pretty relaxed and just enjoying riding. Now I’m trying to get a little more serious and stick her back onto some sort of plan. Primarily lots of trot work at the moment. My personal challenge is to work on sitting back more and opening up my hip angle, despite the fact this can actually be pretty painful at the moment (I already have appointments scheduled with the chiropractor to get adjusted, a massage on the books, and Bella’s also scheduled to see her chiropractor by the end of this month).
Day #1 (Sunday):
Bella and I just worked on really getting forward and using herself. Honestly there wasn’t much work to be done there she was actually fantastic. We had a lot of power, adjustability, I really wasn’t focusing on headset so much so I just left big loops in my reins and Bella put herself right where she needed to be. Overall it was amazing. We did a lot of walk-trot transitions which is usually more mentally challenging for Bella than physically challenging. She doesn’t like to start and stop so we did have some moments with that but overall I could not have asked for a better ride. We did a little bit of canter work at the end and it was pretty great. I did pretty well on my goal of sitting up and back more.
Day #2 (Tuesday):
I tried riding with a dressage whip for the first time in years (update, still doesn’t go well with Bella). I’ve been having trouble with Bella falling in during circles so I carried the whip and everything actually went pretty well during our trot work. We did a lot of circling and got her holding herself up more and feeling a lot more balanced. She didn’t have any big reactions until I started really pushing her toward the middle of the ride. By the end of the ride when we went to canter she was just frazzled, she’s never liked whips so I typically don’t ride with them. I do wear spurs with her and that’s usually enough to keep her responsive. So when we went to canter she was a little worked up and just couldn’t seem to get her leads. She cross cantered multiple times, lost her shit when I asked her to stop and then pick up the canter again to try to get her to swap behind to the correct lead. It was not our prettiest moment. I did finally get her leads correct and on my way home I texted the chiropractor about scheduling an adjustment.
Day #3 (Wednesday):
After the hectic ride on Tuesday I wasn’t really sure what to expect from her. Often times
she holds onto the previous ride so I usually expect her to be tense if we’ve had a rough ride the day before. She was honestly perfect. We had a storm rolling in, I’d ridden Skipper first (he was not having it, poor dude) and decided to do a quick ride on Bella before the rain came. Everything was prepped for us to have a really rough ride. Tuesday’s ride wasn’t great, I had to speed tack-up (which she hates), and I knew there wasn’t going to be much time to really warm her up into anything. After stretching her front legs I literally grabbed her bridle and looked straight at her and said, “sorry mare, this is gonna be a quick and dirty,” and I am 100% sure she just knew.
Wednesday ended up being fantastic. Despite the wind and rain threatening to come down Bella was great. I wanted to work on getting her trotting long and low and really stretching out (that’s what I’d planned on before I saw the weather) and she was actually responsive. We did have some issues at the canter (again a couple cross cantering moments and she got upset about having to trot and go back up) but she did get it and she was really strong in the canter once we got there. She felt great and we managed to get a full ride in before the rain started.
Day #4 (Thursday):
Today the goal was to just go back to getting her working on circles (touching on days 1 and 2) just to see how she was doing. We had a bit of a distraction thrown in. Apparently Skipper has a place in the fence where he was getting out from the pasture they were in. Don’t know where or how but he’d get out and back in there on his own and it was 1. working Bella up and 2. super annoying for his owners. So they moved him. Bella doesn’t like changes in her life. To top if off they moved him into my current riding field (we can get there without having to walk her on gravel). She was a little distracted.
Distracted or not she was really good. I went with spurs today rather than carrying a whip and while we had some issues with her wanting to drift and make her circle wider (at least she’s not falling in now right?) I was able to correct her with my outside rein and leg and she was really responsive and respectful. The hardest thing we faced was keeping her focused on me rather than looking for Skipper. Her canter was phenomenal though and I even got brave enough to let the reins out and let her stretch down at the canter today. I can’t even explain how thrilled I am that I’ve got her back to where she’s that strong again. We still have a ways to go but I was wondering if we’d ever manage to get here with my crazy schedule.
Today did end a bit earlier than I’d like. I battle anxiety and depression and despite the great ride I was having I ended up in tears (for basically no reason) and ended up calling it a day early. I typically like to wind her back down with some trot work to get her calm and relaxed after cantering but I just couldn’t even fathom it today. So we called it a day and I hand grazed her for a few minutes, smeared some goo on a cut, and headed home. I was going to ride Skipper but I just decided that unless I’m mentally fit enough to be there that it’s just not a wise choice. I’ll ride him first tomorrow and if Bella gets an extra day off so be it. She’s definitely earned it.