Canter Transition Success!

Headed to the barn, ready to ride, ready for the day to unwind. I slipped my Blundstone much boots on. I love these boots btw. They are so easy on and off, are super comfortable, great tred and the best part is they are still holding up to the rigors of days at the barn; the mud, the rain, the manure, the post ride paths, the dust etc. But, I digress.

I walked over to Athena’s stall and gave a quick call, “Athena” She lifted her head up and came cantering up to me, sliding to a stop in front of me, her hooves leaving groves in the fresh grass still wet from the nights rainfall. “Easy there girl, love that you are so excited to see me, but let’s not pull a muscle. “ Ha Ha  I slid her halter on while feeding her a piece of carrot and out the stall door we walked. I paused  long enough for her to grab a bite of grass at the small patch just outside her stall door. It’s sort of become a bit of tradition. The grass is always greener on the other side… Athena is sure of it! 

Grooming was just like previous grooming sessions except that I started with my new grooming gloves. Love these. No more dirt under my nails, or trying to grip a rubber curry comb. With the tiny grippers on my finger tips I curried in a circular motion, Athena’s neck stretching out long and her lips wiggling back and forth in approval. “That’s my girl”. So happy you are enjoying the scratches. 
I picked her hooves, one at a time, applied tea tree oil with the eye dropper to any cracks or divit spots in her hoof to prevent bacteria from establishing a foothold.

I could hear her playing with something in my grooming box. What now had she gotten into?? As I put her last foot down I looked up to see her happily eating my flower lei, string and all! “Hey there!” I grabbed the lei, carefully, trying not to break the tiny string holding the flowers in a circular necklace. “Give it back Athena…” she only grabbed harder as if to say “ no, this is my treat”.  “Come on…. Let me have it. It was hard to look serious and she knew it, as I was laughing, finding it oh so humorous that she had again, gone digging in my grooming box and found something she knew she shouldn’t have and was now playing with it. I love seeing this softer side of her. I was finally able to trade a carrot for the lei. Ah silly Athena. Always something with you. 
We had a lovely ride on the trail. She was alert and calm, curiously checking out the different sounds and sights, ears pricked forward, fully engaged in the world. 

We finished our ride with a quick arena session. I wanted to try our canter transitions. We completed a lap around the arena. It was speedy, it was not fabulous, but I didn’t care about the trot today. Today I wanted to canter. With Kate’s words fresh in my mind, “shorter rein, stay behind her, close your knees” I proceed to form a circle at the walk. I applied the my inside leg at the girth to ask for a leg yield step to set up for the canter, I kept my reins shorter( they felt too short, but I was open to giving it a try), asked for a slight flexion to the inside, slid my outside leg back, leaned back, gave a kiss and as if by magic I felt her back round underneath me and come up into the canter. Success!!!!! I couldn’t believe it. Or I should say I could believe it, but was so excited that Kate’s suggestion had worked. I immediately praised Athena, giving her a soft pat on her neck and brining her back to the walk, now rubbing her and praising her for such a good effort. Her ears flicked back at me as if to say “ oh, that’s what you’ve been wanting.” I’ve got this. I applied the same cues and asked again. She picked up the canter even smoother this time. “Good Girl” Good Girl!” I’m so proud of you. Now she was super excited and tried to offer it up again. No no, that’s enough for today. So proud of you Athena. That’s a great note to end on for today. Let’s take a bath and go get your Scooby snacks. 😃