The days speed ahead while we are here in Florida. A short day has 8 or nine horses/sessions and a long day 11. I try to make sure I work Elton early in the day. The Florida Dressage Experience program school starts at eight daily and I often try to work Elton before the start when I am fresh and have attention and energy for him.
It surprises me that he does not seem upset when I have to work him later in the day. Many young horses are unable to be as flexible with their bio-rhythms. One week during the month he is worked only 4 days. The other weeks the schedule is five days. I still ride him only 3 days a week and he is weight bearing for 15 minutes or less. The days he is not ridden but is worked, are devoted to lunging with side reins or long lining. One day each week he is ridden outside of the arena in “mini” trail rides. This week I had a blast riding him around the large jumping field pasture looking for a shoe that was lost. He went easily and confidently away from the stable in areas he had not been before. I did not feel any tension or concern from him. Coming back to the stable I was able to swing the last gate shut and latch it with the double ended snap and chain without dismounting! No problem! He finished up his outing by trotting over the cavalletti poles we have set up on the grass.
His work under saddle in the arena generally consists of 5 minutes of lunging in side reins with trot /canter transitions and his riding a Training Level test pattern.. with about that amount of work interspersed with halts, working walk and turns on the forehandSince we have rail ties for arena walls he has been mounted anywhere around the ring and stands quietly. I do not mount from the ground yet as I do not want to strain his frame.
Generally he is lunged 5 minutes in side reins with trot /canter transitions. Finally in February he began to comprehend the idea of SPECIFIC leads at the canter. He is so flexible that he counter canters easily and I have not reprimanded him about it. We have just stopped and started over, or I have just enjoyed a lovely counter-canter. Since he has not exhibited cross-cantering I have not had any worries. In the past two weeks he has started on the correct lead while lunging now about 80% of the time and about the same under saddle . Generally he is lunged 5 minutes in side reins with trot /canter transitions. . Because we have experienced such a successful season Elton and the school mare Aryzona have been pastured not stalled . The few days Elton was ridden when taken from an overnight stall did not make a huge difference in his attention or energy level but I suspect that when he goes back to Maine that between being stalled at night and the cooler temps he may be lively and I will need to be attentive.
It was warm this past week and while he was sweating I got his mane pulled for the first time successfully without too much trauma. I had tried a few weeks earlier and he had been stressed. There are some horses that I just don’t bother them about it. It is not worth the discomfort it causes the horse. He stood quite a while and was quiet so I just tactfully kept on. The Florida Dressage Experience Program Participants were in the aisle with loads of questions and we could keep school going while I quietly worked away on him. I was very pleased. He has not grown since we gelded him but breeder Deb Tyler assures me that the gelding process often causes a “hold” on the system and then they shoot up after 4-5 months. Elton is a favorite with the barn staff and participants as he is easy going and kind.