They say the early bird gets the worm – or in my case, the entire arena to myself. This week I was at the barn bright and early for my ride (sorry barn owners!). The sun was just stating to rise, and I was hoping for a spectacular show so I could get some stunning sunrise photos of Luc. It wasn’t to be. It was so overcast Luc was even harder than normal to photograph. A grey against a grey background doesn’t make for the prettiest picture. It was probably for the best that the sun didn’t rise with brilliant shades of pink, purple and orange. Luc didn’t want to cooperate and decided to hide in the shelter anyways.
After giving up on my grand illusions of capturing that perfect picture, Luc and I got ready to ride. It would seem both of us aren’t quite all there in the mornings. I had a hard time staying focused and motivated, but managed to put in a rather productive ride. And Luc, well he was Luc. I’m pretty sure he was more than half a sleep for the start of our ride, which was nice because he was relaxed and seemed not to care at all we were working in the arena. When I was walking him around on a loose rein to warm up we were going slower than a snail. He even refused a pole on the ground. Well, more like he just kind of came to a stop and since I had been letting him wander aimlessly I couldn’t really get after him. I should have taken it as a sign of what was to come.
Walking and trotting went well, and then it was time to move on to some lateral work. I focused on using my aids, in particular my seat bones. Luc responded well giving me some nice leg yields and beautiful turns on the forehand. Canter, well, that started off well. I started with his weaker lead, and he was nice and relaxed, even at the scary end and was happy to canter over a few poles on the ground. When I changed direction, things started to go downhill. He picked up the canter nicely, but then turned into a giraffe the second he realized we were heading down to the scary end. Cantering over the line of poles in that direction proved stupidly challenging. Luc tried to refuse the pole (the same one as earlier). I forced him over it and then ended up adding what felt like a hundred extra strides on the way down the line. I think we might have even been going backwards.
Our second attempt was worse. He tried to duck out over the first pole again, and then bolted towards the scary end. Okay, so bolted may be a bit of a strong word. He actually broke to the trot and gave me the biggest, fastest trot I’ve ever had from him – towards the scary end. It took me a minute or two to get him back down to a walk, which was certainly a new experience for me. Silly pony, why on earth would you race toward the thing you’re afraid of?
I forced him around and over the poles again, and after one more successful jaunt called it a day.
Despite the one little blip in our ride, it was enjoyable. We both may have started half asleep, but we finished on a high note – and maybe next time I’m out at the barn that early both Luc and the sunrise will cooperate!