Yesterday I went out with Polly's owner and another boarder, both also on draft crosses (much smaller than Polly though!). We walked, trotted, cantered, jumped--but Polly was stronger than I expected, and was ignoring my half-halts and attempts to create some space in between her and the horse in front of her. Steering? Not so much.
Polly's owner told me to just get after her when she wasn't listening--stronger half halts, booting her to move off my leg, etc.--and for last quarter or so of the ride I had a lot more control, which was good.
So for today's ride, rather than meandering around for the walk warmup, I insisted that Polly stay straight and march on. We also did a few 20m circles in the arena before we went out, and I think that helped to set the level of responsiveness for the whole ride. And it also helped that I had some idea where we were going since we went on the same trails. Mostly trot today, but we did have a little bit of canter after we hopped over some logs! Tearing around the woods is my new favorite thing! I'm hoping I might be able to borrow a GoPro camera from my dad or Byron's dad to record our adventures.
She roots at the bit a fair amount, which is annoying but I just bridged my reins and let her do whatever she was going to do with her head. My upper back is going to be REALLY strong from riding her!
Yesterday was also a spa day for Polly. Like many drafts, she has issues with scratches on her white feet, and the feathers do not help with keeping her skin free of mud and moisture. So I bought myself some Andis 2-speed clippers as a belated birthday present to myself, and committed draft horse heresy. The feathers are no more.
It took me a while to figure out how to make it look neat, but she was an angel for clipping and practically fell asleep. Aesthetically I think she looks much better with feathers, but it's impossible to find where the scratches are with all that hair. With spring rain and mud ahead, I'd rather get a jump on it before it gets too bad.
Poor girl. I don't think anyone was really managing her skin so her pasterns are like...lumpy. It's really weird. But I'm cleaning with Betadine, drying, then rubbing on Desitin to keep the moisture out of her lumps and bumps.
In other news, it is currently snowing in MD and it's the middle of March. WHY?