Red was forward, relaxed, and eager to go. After our warm-up, he picked up his comfortable trot, between 7 and 8 mph, and just stayed in it, except for slowing to a walk for the downhills. He was minimally spooky (yay!) and travelled pretty straight down the middle of the road (his preferred path), and we did the whole ride on a loose rein. One of the things I love about Red is his complete ease with going out alone. We march down the driveway from the barn with his ears up and nary a backward glance, despite the pony neighing to him. He felt great the whole ride.
Rhio was lazy, dragging, and asking to turn back for the farm at every opportunity for the first 3 miles of the ride; this is normal behavior for him and he complies easily when asked to continue forward, but does so at a slow trot while craning his neck around to the side to glance back and always with one ear back. Once we hit the 3 mile mark, he no longer acts like he wants to turn around, but he is still not particularly motivated and I have to keep asking him to maintain a decent pace or he will slowly fade back to his slow trot. He prefers the very edge of the road, but weaves back & forth from one side to the other. Once we hit the turn around spot, though, his extra batteries kick in and he's off like a shot for home. We compromise by alternating trotting (9 or 10 mph vs. his slow trot at 6 mph) and cantering, and he no longer weaves back and forth but makes a straight path down the edge of the road. We still walk most of the downhills, and end up with the same average speed for the ride for both horses, though the execution of the ride is not at all similar.
It was interesting to compare the horses like this, and I wish I had put the heart rate monitor on each of them as well, so I could look at their working heart rates at Red's steady pace and Rhio's fluctuating one. Of course, Red is not as fit as Rhio and the humidity, especially, is more difficult for him to cope with. I noticed that the veins under the skin on Rhio's neck pop out right away after only a little trotting, and Red's are never visible. Both horses appear equally sweaty when we return, and neither was breathing hard nor seemed to have any difficulty recovering after the ride (although I didn't actually pulse them down to see - I know Rhio pulses down almost immediately and Red takes a bit, even if they were equally fit).
On both rides, I worked on posting both diagonals. I prefer to post the left diagonal on both horses, and it feels strange to post the right diagonal. I have been trying to concentrate on posting equally to both sides when I ride. Red accepted my changing diagonals with no outward sign that it bothered him, but Rhio would either bounce me back to the left or break into a canter when I tried to post his right diagonal at his faster trot. At a slower trot, he did not care which diagonal I was on.
I'm glad to have gotten the boys both out for a nice conditioning ride before I leave on vacation for 6 days. Our next competition is August 14 -15, so I'll only have about 10 days to work them when I get back before they'll be on their rest days pre-competition. The farrier is coming right after my vacation and we will make another assessment on Rhio's hoof crack at that point. There is a fairly large section that is loose, but it doesn't seem to be stressed by the exercise and it is clear that the heel section is going to stay intact - hooray! He is always in boots now when I ride to protect that crack. I sure hope I get to take him to the ride in August, but if not it will be fun to ride Red at a competition again. Red's last season of competition was 2008.
|Rhio says "Ahhh! I love to get dirty, especially after Mom just hosed me off."|