Well, it’s been a while… so there’s lots to catch up on!
The short summary is: Remy did get out to one more show over the summer, up at Silverwood, where he put in his best (and most relaxed… finally!! yay!!) effort yet, and then Liam got a nasty puncture wound that put an end to my show season (warning, there is a picture below, it’s not a horrible pic but you might not want to look if you’re eating…). Liam got better, and the boys gained another “brother” mid October when I added Austin to the herd (more on him below).
All three horses are improving by leaps and bounds. Remy has developed some INCREDIBLE gaits, and continues to find lateral work quite easy. I am really working on his canter at the moment, trying to build him up so he can carry himself more easily and develop more collection (currently, when he starts to get tired, he leans on the bit racehorse style and falls on the forehand, ignoring my half halts and is quite content to let me hold him up… unfortunately, he’s way too big for that!). He’s just started getting really good flying changes, has a great counter canter, and a great half pass, so I have plenty of stuff I can mix up to make canter patterns and keep it fun.
Liam is finally fit again after taking almost 2 months off with his puncture wound the end of July. We are working on tempi changes (we’ve even been getting some 2’s!), he has a good start on pirouettes, and is starting to get the idea for canter half pass, although he still finds that tough (not sure why, but lateral work has never been his forte). I’m working hard to build more adjustability into his gaits (I don’t think extended gaits will ever be his best movement, but I’d like to be able to show enough difference to get a 6 at least), and getting better transitions within gaits. I’m still hoping to finish up my bronze medal on him just because it would be so personally meaningful, and now I’m starting to get little ideas about even going for the Silver with him… but there’s no pressure because I know Remy is ready to take over the show pony job at any point, so Liam and I can just have fun and keep riding and see where it gets us… and so far, it’s getting us closer and closer to my goals!
Austin is a 10 year old paint that I got mid October, he had formerly been a trail horse, so while he is super broke and totally bombproof, he was pretty uneducated as far as aids and arena work goes. I’ve been riding him about 5 days a week, 3-4 dressage schools and 1-2 times jumping. He walks and trots reliably on the bit now, and picks up both canter leads and is starting to stay on the bit at the canter, but it’s not perfect yet. He is responding to lighter and lighter leg aids (which is great, he had no “go” button at all at the beginning!), and is doing a pretty decent leg yield and shoulder in at the trot. I’ve discovered that what he REALLY loves is jumping! He’s also teaching lessons a few times a week, so he’s had a pretty busy schedule! But he seems to love the attention and every day when he sees me coming he greets me with a whinny and comes to the gate to meet me. Such a sweetie!
I’ve also become interested in the new Western Dressage movement, to me it sounds like it could be the best of both worlds, and provide a great alternative to the typical Western disciplines for someone that prefers a Western saddle. It will allow all the benefits of traditional, classical dressage to be brought into the Western world, and provides a place for dressage enthusiasts who ride stock horses to try something different and maybe find an arena where their horses will be more competitive. Plenty of potential benefits, and I sure don’t see any harm, so I’m not sure why there seem to be so many people against the idea, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving it a try this spring! Read more about Western Dressage here http://www.northamericanwesterndressage.com/index.php/articles/articles/68-western-dressage-birth-of-a-discipline