Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Magic Box

Finally we had decent riding weather. It was too wet for trails, so Peggy and I rode in the arena. We rode the girls first, both bareback. After warming up we decided to set the poles into a exercise. I showed Peggy the picture of different 4 pole exercises and she picked the Magic Box. It is suppose to be done at canter and help with lead changes, but it worked for walking and trotting too.
Rosoce showing his handy work in the Magic Box
The box is a 12x12 square with 3 sides raised on the lowest cavaletti setting. I left one side down so we had a place to start. With the girls, just having to pick their feet up was perfect for giving them a work out. Dottie immediately perked up and was thrilled. Of course Peggy, who now had a goal and focus, was just as happy. Peggy at one point told me she was worried she would bounce off Dottie. To say that about her means Dottie found some bounce. They started off doing a figure 8, low to raised and around to the double raised. Though Dottie hit the poles, she did not knock them off. I told Peggy to try a turn in the box. She did it at walk first. Dottie actually did well giving Peggy a nice corner while reaching for the pole. Peggy was having fun and Dottie was being good. I told Peggy to try doing the same thing at the trot. She needed to angle Dottie a little coming into the box to help her make the turn. Again Dottie was a star and made the effort to do the exercise. She trotted in on a bend, trot one stride and then reach for the next pole while stepping under with her hind end. For a big girl she is surprisingly maneuverable. I played with her the next day on the same exercise. I trotted her and even got a great canter out of her. We ended with raising two poles to the next setting. Dottie just picked her feet up even better over those.
As excited as Dottie was, Rosemary was not. She said she is a driving pony and should be going around the box not over it. Despite her dislike, I did make her at least do the figure 8 exercise. At the trot she felt sound, which is a change since her chiro. I think Rosemary herself feels weird. She is a bit unsure of how to deal with her movement now. Almost like she is expecting pain. Once I convinced her she was okay, she handled the poles well. We will keep at building her muscles and see what happens.
Next up were the Red boys. Roscoe was having a distracted 3yr old day. He was more interested in watching Comrade. I used the poles to get his attention with a little success. At one point he was thinking about catching up to Comrade, he picked up trot and went over the two raised poles perfectly. Then the next time he decided to jump one, scare himself and knock down the next. We walked a bit then to regain his confidence and brain. I made him halt in the box, do a quarter turn on the forehand and walk on over a raised pole. That got his brain engaged. The next day I rode him by himself and though he tried to watch Peggy fix a fence board, he was in a better work mode. We worked on him trotting for the amount of time I wanted, tossing in the poles. They were no problem now. Roscoe got a trail ride for his reward. He surprised me by walking right to the baby coop and going over. He tried to go to the hay bale oxer, but I told him "not this time."
Comrade did the exercise in a lazy fashion trying to take advantage of Peggy. After watching him hit poles and barely make the distance, I could not watch anymore. I gave Peggy my whip. Like magic, he began to easily make the distance and pick his feet up. I guess he figured Peggy meant business now. She put him through the same exercises she used with Dottie. This ride allowed them both to have fun with each other. I hope to get to play with him on this exercise soon and maybe even try the canter.
Not to be left out, the Grey boys had their turn too. DaVinci, who normally can never find his distances and hops over poles, was doing them like a pro. He took care of Peggy during it too. Winston was having a jittery day and Mom was not sure she should try. She flatted him a bit before directing him to the poles. Winston did great. I had to tell Mom to relax and carry her hands, but there was no blow ups. Peggy laughed because I told her the same exact thing yesterday when she was on Comrade.
Overall the magic box was a great exercise for gaining focus, bending joints, promoting reaching with forelegs and pushing with hind legs. It highlighted gaps in flexibility or straightness. Best of all it was challenging enough for horse and rider without over exerting out of shape muscles.

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