Ground Poles and Tack Change

When I rode a few days ago, I noticed the saddle I'd been riding Shae in since he got here wasn't right. Given that he's filled out and started losing that baby shape in the past few months, I wasn't surprised. Thankfully, he's still at the college where I have 30 saddles of all shapes and sizes to try with him, and I found one that fit him perfect. (I wish I could stay in a place where I have 30 saddles at my disposal until he finishes growing, saddle buying is going to be challenging!

I also dropped the bit a hole tonight. He's been fussy with the bit lately, and I'd like him to learn to carry the bit instead of leaning on me so much. My plan was to do a walking-only lesson over ground poles since our last ride was stressful for both of us.

Maybe it was a combination of the tack change and the fact that I started this lesson with a single goal and an idea on how to achieve it, but our ride went so well tonight. I'm serious about giving him time to just grow up, but I'm also serious about keeping his brain going. The goal tonight was beginning to teach him where his feet are and how to pick them up. The method was four ground poles set about 2.5 feet apart. It didn't go well at first (hitting every single pole every single time without a single effort to pick up his feet is NOT progress!), but after I got off and led him across them a few times, he started to get the idea. When I got back into the saddle, he steadily decreased the number of poles he hit until finally he didn't hit a single pole in either direction. Although it had only been a fifteen minute walking-only ride at this point, I immediately hopped off, loosened the girth and gave him lots of praise.

Nights like this give me hope that maybe he'll grow out of this stage in which every foot goes in a different direction and he can't find his feet. I know part of it is on me to help him figure that out, but part of it is just growing up on his part. Of course, he did so well in his lesson and then shuffled when he got to the point where the gravel changes to asphalt when I was leading him back to his paddock and he stumbled and nearly went to his knees in the road. Oh well, two steps forward, one back.

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