11/20/11  Rode in the rain today. Did not intend to ride in the rain today, but did. It had drizzled much of the early morning, but had stopped by ride time, and the footing looked splendid. And it was not raining while I groomed and tacked, but it was drizzling as we headed out the door, so I pulled on a parka, and strode to the outdoor court, wiped off the saddle and mounted.

His Majesty obviously liked the conditions. He walked out energetically, inspected the margins, found my hand soon, and rhythmically inscribed three walk leg yield (LY) zigzags (ZZ), first forward at about 55 degrees, then steeper at about 40 degrees, and lastly, at about 60 degrees in medium. This horse has a wonderful walk, which has only gotten better by the inclusion of LY in his loosening exercises.

In walk we also played with shoulder-in(SI)>half-pass(HP)>SI>HP>SI. He is less adept at this exercise, so we only HP ZZ when SI>HP>SI>HP>SI is near perfect. Which it was not today.

So not to belabor that exercise in drizzle, we went on to trot the perimeter in an energetic long and low working posture. And then inscribed spiral in, transitioning to uphill collection and spiral out from uphill collected to uphill medium – one full in and out complement of spirals on each leg.  After straightening, still in uphill medium,  we collected and came to halt(H). But the H was not square, so H>T about a dozen collected strides to H. Which was square. Then from a few strides of forward working trot, went large and long and low to transition into canter, with one barely uphill flying change each direction before inscribing canter spirals that progressed from long and low inward to uphill collection, then pirouette canter into a big, but buoyant 3/4 pirouette>straight out of which we transitioned from that degree of collection into uphill medium, flew a change, returned to long and low and repeated the exercise on the other leg.

When I brought him to walk and fed him the reins, he took them all the way to the ground and lengthened his stride across a long diagonal, then to uphill medium before I let him walk free while I inspected the footprints of the prior exercises.

This court is 50m x 50m, which accommodates a 20m spiral in each quadrant. Although the in and out of the trot spirals made it difficult to discern which was which, the overall impression to my eye from astride was a smooth increase of bend followed by smooth decrease of bend both directions. The canter tracks were easier to read, and I was not surprised that the overtrack of inner hind was greater to the left than to the right in medium, but pleased to see that the tracks of pirouette canter volte and the near pirouettes themselves were pretty even on both legs. If it were not by now really raining, or I were willing to let the saddle get that wet before remounting, I would have dismounted and inspected all of the tracks more closely. What I could see remaining astride was a handsome piece of lace we had just tatted.

Which we proceeded to obliterate by resuming trot, and playing the accordion, as Charles de Kunffy dubbed longitudinal and lateral bending exercises. First a shakule of working > collected > medium>collected> near piaffe> collected>near piaffe>medium…executing corners only in collection.

Then we fished-tailed a long straight line of haunches-in(HI)>haunches-out(HO>HI>HO Which ignited an increasedly impulsed uphill medium.  Thrilling how that works, when a horse reaches this stage of development. Although I think I might have made such extravagant medium into passage today, I did not want to introduce anything new, but instead resorted to working trot long and low to soften.  I am thrilled that this horse is strong enough to do so much medium trot exercise. But I have to keep him adjustable if his eventual extensions and passage are to be unconstrained, elastic, and exuberant.

Continuing to accordion laterally and promote rideability of the SI>HP>SI, by way of trot volte (TV) > SI> TV>SI>HP>SI> straight to change legs to repeat in the opposite direction. Then long and low working large circle each direction. Then to free walk the perimeter through north wind propelled RAIN,  fling open the gate and ride to the stable port, where I dismounted.

Once inside, I loosened the girth and released the flash, and walked Carl Hester’s “20 minutes on hard” (See Digest Autumn 2011) all the while untacking, unwinding polos, and changing each of us into dry clothes. When I asked HM whether he enjoyed his romp in the rain while bent to remove his left bell, he responded by gripping the crown of my soaked bucket hat between his lips and tossing it into the grooming stall (as he has seen me toss his bell boots times before.) Giggling and exclaiming “Comic” I was caught in a hug as I crossed under his neck to the right boot. And while there, and massaging those tendons he tousled my hair with his lips.

SO I guess he had enough fun to make all the extra laundry and tack cleaning worthwhile.