I just got back from another trip to Georgia to see my ponies. :) It was another wonderful trip; I feel so much better when I'm near them.
On Saturday I rode Star and Sparky, in that order. Star was funny - when I got her out of the pasture and when I was brushing her, she was perfectly happy. When I put the saddle on, she made grumpy faces - "Hey! I didn't sign up for this part of it!" - but once I got on her, she was perfectly happy again. We didn't jump at all, just did some flatwork. Star felt good, but sluggish and out of shape. She doesn't seem to be in any real discomfort right now; she's just unfit. She's really lost her topline (even the husband noticed it) and was sporting a 50" girth (she really ought to be in a 48"). I really wish I could find a perfect lease situation for her to keep her in better shape... but it is what it is. Unless the perfect fit falls in my lap, I'm not going out of my way to find something. Star's just too special to me - I would rather see her get out of shape and be happy in a pasture than see her in any situation where she wasn't happy or wasn't getting the amazing care she is currently getting.
After riding Sparky back in February, we decided to put his hind shoes back on him the next time he was due for a trim, to see if that helped with his stiffness in the back end. I also started him on MSM the week after I left. I was quite happy to find that Sparky is moving much better with the addition of his back shoes. He still starts out stiff in back, but warms up out of it much, much better. His canter was so fun - I could really feel him stepping under himself. He also did some very nice shoulder-in and leg-yielding, including a leg-yield toward the rail and then back towards centerline tracking both directions. His front end still feels a little... tentative, I think is the best word, so we are going to put his front shoes back on him, too. Sparky has been maintaining his weight well (or, I should say, Joyce has been maintaining Sparky's weight well) in the past couple months; he was solidly in a 48" girth and probably could have squeezed into a 46". It was so strange when I first got on him and he felt narrower than Star!
On Sunday we got a late start at the barn, as Oren and I had met up with some friends for brunch, and we weren't seated for an hour. It was about 4:30 by the time we got there. Honorary Big Sister Jen and I had made plans to ride together, so she was already there. She had already brushed Tiki, so she walked out to the pasture with me to get Sparky. I called him, crinkled a peppermint wrapper, and held out a peppermint, and he walked right up... TO JEN!!!! The little bugger! LOL. We brought him back to the barn and tag-teamed grooming him, then we each tacked up our own horses and headed to the arena. Sparky and I did much of the same as on Saturday: walk, trot, canter, shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yield. Honorary Big Sister Jen very kindly complimented my leg, saying that it was staying right in place, even having not ridden in two months.
After riding Sparky, I rode Kellie. I don't know that she's been ridden since my last visit. We just did walk and trot; she started out more resistant and more giraffe-like than during my last visit, and she definitely also feels more out of shape, but overall she was very cooperative and generally a good girl. I saw a wonderful picture about a week ago of a horse in a perfect hunter frame that was also a perfect training level dressage frame (which, is really how it should be)... that picture is to what I aspire with Kellie. So much easier done when you ride more than once every two months! I did also recently find some video from a couple years ago of Kellie and me; she has definitely improved over that video, so I'm going to go ahead and give myself a pat on the back for that.
I finished out Sunday by giving Star a thorough grooming, which she seemed to enjoy. Oren and I had dinner plans, so I didn't have time to ride her again. Star was put away, I wiped down tack, and said my good-byes for the foreseeable future.
Oren and I have examined our finances and are now starting to look at places in New York to keep a horse. I would really like to find a place that has a strong emphasis on correct basics (dressage), but that maybe isn't a dressage-only barn. Or a place that allows outside trainers, so that I could take lessons with both a dressage person and a jumping person. Then again, depending on which horse comes up, maybe a dressage-only place might be okay. But most importantly, it needs to be within our budget and have excellent care... so I'll be keeping options open. I welcome any thoughts!