Monday, October 19, 2009

Parental visit

This weekend, my parents came to visit. I don't think I ever explained on this blog how I came to have Saga, but to make a long story short, my parents bought him for me as a graduation present when I finished my Ph.D. in May.

I should probably mention that I asked for a horse at every birthday and Christmas since I was in 8th grade. I dropped oh-so-subtle hints, like reading the following poem to them, repeatedly:

Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony
By Shel Silverstein

There was a girl named Abigail
Who was taking a drive
Through the country
With her parents
When she spied a beautiful sad-eyed
Grey and white pony.
And next to it was a sign
That said,
“Oh,” said Abigail,
“May I have that pony?
May I please?”
And her parents said,
“No you may not.”
And Abigail said,
“But I MUST have that pony.”
And her parents said,
“Well, you can have a nice butter pecan
Ice cream cone when we get home.”
And Abigail said,
“I don’t want a butter pecan
Ice cream cone,
And her parents said,
“Be quiet and stop nagging—
You’re not getting that pony.”
And Abigail began to cry and said,
“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die.”
And her parents said, “You won’t die.
No child ever died yet from not getting a pony.”
And Abigail felt so bad
That when she got home she went to bed,
And she couldn’t eat,
And she couldn’t sleep,
And her heart was broken,
And she DID die—
All because of a pony
That her parents wouldn’t buy.

(This is a good story
To read to your folks
When they won’t buy
You something you want.)

So the long and short of it is, I never got a pony growing up. In fact, I was so desperate for a horse, I went out and found a great couple who happened to be good friends of the family and adopted them as horse parents, since my parents were not particularly horsey inclined. When I got my first job fresh out of college, the first question my Dad asked me was whether or not I'd be able to afford a horse. My response: "Oh HELL YES." And so I bought Cash off his previous owner for the low, low price of $1 and shipped him up to Maryland where my new job was... but that's a story for another day. The point is, I didn't get a horse growing up, but my parents finally did their parently duty and got me a rather... um, large... pony.

The last time they saw Saga was not exactly the best impression. He was 100 pounds underweight, had no muscle, and was not going very well seeing as how I'd only had him for a week or two. I'm pretty sure they were horrified by what I'd picked out. I think it was a different story this time - they kept commenting about how nice he looked and how handsome he was! My mom kept sneaking both Saga and Red carrot bits as we were tacking up - I think Saga found a new best friend!

We finally got to ride in the outdoor arena (first time in over a month) and we worked a lot on canter. I did one pretty long canter set both directions, then took a break and worked on some trot work, including leg yields. He was much better than in our lesson last week, I think because I really got him going off of my leg at the walk first. I really do need to start wearing nubby spurs, because it's just not pleasant to take my foot out of the stirrup and boot him with my heel. The dressage whip just isn't effective sometimes. Anyway, leg yields are coming along, and the bending on the trot was better to the right. His head is getting straighter to the left, or I'm not letting go with the outside rein as much, or probably both. Whatever, it was nice.

The final bit of the ride was another long canter session, with lots of transitions and lengthenings, as well as some counter-canter. It's really the first time we've done either lengthenings or counter-canter, and I was very pleased with both. He's really got a big stride in there and I can feel him move out, but he doesn't get a whole lot faster. Certainly I think he'll get better marks on that than Cash ever did. He did have a tendency to get a little strung out at the end of the lengthening, but that's always going to be an issue, so we'll continue to work on that. We changed rein across the diagonal and did counter-canter along the short side of the arena both ways, and he was steady and stayed bent.

All in all, a fantastic ride and my dad commented how we were really starting to look like a team!

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