Monday, January 30, 2017

Working on the Basics

After my last lesson with my trainer, I have really been focused on getting Casey & I's basic skills cemented in. We've come a really long way in just 5ish months, but in order to start working on more complicated things (like higher jumps, more complicated courses, and potentially some more dressage training) we really need to work out the kinks that we have in our training.

Over the weekend, we spent our riding time working on these basic things. We worked on getting a nice solid trot. I focused on keeping my hands super soft and I asked Casey to focus on keeping a solid pace and a slight bend.
Trot work
More trot work

Then we worked on the canter. I did not care about the length of time we cantered, but rather the quality of the canter. I would ask Casey for a calm, collected canter on a circle. Once she was balanced I would allow her to continue along the rail. If she started to get unbalanced again or tried to throw her body into my hands I would ask her to circle again until it regained its balance. The first day we did this it was a struggle and we probably did 6 circles and 2 laps before Casey lost her canter, but on Sunday she really started to figure it out and was able to canter for much longer and it was a higher-quality canter. I am hopeful that this will continue to improve.
Cantering along
More cantering

In between all of the hard physical work, we also worked on mental work. In order to do leg yields, and eventually shoulder-in and haunches-in, Casey really need to be more responsive to my leg. We worked from a standstill and I would give her a nudge with my foot to try to get her to move her back legs and swing her butt one step over. This is a work in progress. At first I had to use a dressage whip, because she was just ignoring my leg. So I would give a leg nudge and then if that didn't work give a butt tap with the whip. She eventually figured that out and now we are at the point where she will move with just a foot nudge (although she's still not great at this). We are going to keep working on this and hopefully it will just keep improving.

After doing all of this basic work, we then tried applying this to jumping. I set up pitifully small cross-rails (maybe 6 inches) and we worked on controlling our bodies before, over, and after the jumps. I asked Casey to trot nicely all the way to the jump, not letting her gallop over it. Over the jump I tried to keep my body movements very subtle and not interfere. After the jump we would mix it up. Sometimes I would ask her to do a calm, collected canter circle, sometimes I would let her continue to the next jump, other times I would ask her to walk, and sometimes I asked her to stop in-between the jumps. My goal is to get her paying attention to what I am asking, rather than her just deciding to charge the next jump. This is really a struggle for Casey, as she doesn't seem to get why she can't just flounder her way along, but it is really important for her to learn this skill because it will allow her to control her body much better to the jump, which will result in a much better jump. Even though Casey struggled with this, I did see improvement from the first line to the last line that we did. I'm going to keep working on this and hopefully it will just come easier and easier for her.
These were the cross-rails. So tiny she could literally just step over them.

On Saturday, I decided to let Casey actually jump real jumps, so I set up some interesting jumps that would get her thinking. There was the hogsback jump, the skinny wall oxer, and the broken oxer. I have noticed that Casey seems a lot less confident over jumps that aren't just rails and so I want to build her confidence over "scary" jumps. She ran out on the skinny wall oxer the last time we jumped and although I did get her over it that day, it required me really telling her that she was going to go over it (I just applied leg before the jump and she popped over it). Saturday she still seemed a bit hesitant about that jump, but jumped the other two with ease. 
Here you can see all of the jumps. From left to right: skinny wall oxer, hogsback, broken oxer.
She seems more hesitant, but with added leg is willing to jump.

I think that her lack of confidence is really just a lack of experience. She is more than capable of jumping that height and width (she's jumped much bigger) so it's just the way that it looks that is freaking her out. I think that if I continue to work with her over these types of jumps than her confidence will grow. Also it really shows me that I can't be a passive rider when we start getting to the more interesting jumping situations. We are a team and we have to support each other. Sometimes that will mean that I need to be the confident one and get us over fences, and sometimes I will be able to take my confidence from her.
She's super jump over these jumps even if she doesn't care for them

Overall it was a really good weekend with her. The tough part about owning a green horse is that there are so many things that she is new to and so many things that she needs training on and so it is my responsibility to expose her to new things and train her correctly. I hope that I am doing it right! I wish that I could have weekly lessons as I think that would really help progress our training, but alas, finances just aren't there at this moment.

Has your horse ever seemed to lose confidence over certain types of fences? What did you do about it?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Exploding Cannon-Horse

I finally got to ride my horse again!

I have no riding photos from today, so enjoy just-Casey photos!
She has had 5 days off in a row due to her injury, so I was expecting true dramatics in our ride today, and indeed she did perform.

We started off with working on leg yielding at a walk and a stop. I basically just got her to the point where she would move her haunches both directions and then I called it quits. I didn't want to make her pissy right off the bat.

Me? Pissy? Never!
Then we moved on to basic trot work. Nothing too complicated, all I asked for was a reasonable speed and a slight bend. She was actually very responsive for this, and was super light in the bit. It's amazing to feel that, because Casey might have the hardest mouth out of any horse that I have ever ridden. When I first started working with her, she would literally pull on the bit at ALL times. It was constant, and incessant, and finally she is starting to learn that riding doesn't have to be that way. YAY!

Casey enjoying the nice weather

My current goal with Casey is to get her to be more responsive on course, so I set all of the jumps to ground poles and then we practiced working on adjustability on the lines. We went through the lines going away at a trot. First we just went through and Casey started pulling and tugging and trying to gallop over them. So I improvised. The next couple of times through the line, I made Casey trot in then circle until she got a perfectly balanced and composed trot and then I would let her continue to the next jump. 

Such a flirt
This seemed to really be making a difference, so after a few times doing that I decided to try something else new.  I asked Casey to halt in between jumps in a line. This is something that before would have been impossible. She would have just ran through my hands, but today, she decided to listen. It wasn't pretty, but we did it!

We then took a bit of a break from the ground poles to do some cantering. And Casey lost her freaking mind. It's like she mentally snapped after all of that hard thinking. She tried to transition from a trot to a canter by literally exploding up and forward into a buck/hop? So I asked her to go back to a trot and try again, but she exploded AGAIN! After a couple more explosions, she finally mellowed out.

Pretty eyes
After her temper tantrum, she totally got her head back in the game. We got a really nice controlled canter and so decided to try the ground poles at a canter. She initially went with her go-to jumping strategy - pure speed! But when I asked her to come back to me and collect, she was willing to do it and over the last line we got an amazing controlled canter over the ground pole. It was pretty perfect.

I ended my ride on that good note and then gave Casey plenty of cuddles and treats post-ride. The fact that she was able to do that shows me not only how much progress we have already made, but the potential that we have in the future.

Bending even on her own
Does anyone in the blogosphere have any advice on how to proceed from here? Anybody else working hard on getting more adjustability on course?

Welp, There's Another Vet Bill

Saturday was an interesting day. I was planning on just being at the barn for an hour or two, but when I went to look at Casey's wound I noticed that it was starting to look infected. It had started to ooze pus and beginning to smell (a clear sign of infection). After getting two more opinions that agreed with me, I had to call the vet.

I was annoyed that I had to call the vet, because I really don't want to shell out even more money on this same injury, but I know that infections can get bad fast if not dealt with right away.

The vet who came out is the same one who treated Casey's original injury, which was convenient, because he already knew the whole story. He took a look at it, determined that it needed a thorough cleaning, and so promptly sedated Casey. Once the sedation kicked in, he cleaned the wound with a betadine/water mixture. He said that the wound was just surface-level and isn't as bad as it looks. Essentially, her wound has a flap and so when she tried to get up too quickly, she probably just grazed her wound, but it caught the edge of the flap and so it reopened.

Eden was trying to check on his sister when she was majorly drugged
He also said that the wound was slightly infected, but nowhere near as bad as it was last time, so he gave me only 5 days worth of antibiotics and said to just treat it every day with Betadine. He also recommended that I used Tea-Pro on the wound to help it to heal faster, because if she reopened it once, odds are that it will happen again (unless we can get it to close faster). 

The good news? She's totally rideable! Vet said that as long as riding her doesn't reopen the wound, go right ahead! More specifically, he said that getting exercise is good for her, so he is openly encouraging me to keep on riding. I don't think I'll be doing anything too crazy (as in jumping) until the scab forms again, but we'll happily do flatwork for a while.

I'm glad that I had the vet come out, it was the responsible thing to do. I'm bummed that my horse has cost me almost $1000 in a month and a half, but maybe this will be our only injury of 2017? Fingers crossed!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Must You Maul Yourself So?

So after the roughest day at work yesterday, I went to the barn thinking that the only thing that could cheer me up would be riding my amazing horse. When I went to her paddock to fetch her, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary. She seemed totally happy and fine and on her way to the indoor arena to be free-lunged, she was prancing about. When I free-lunged her she galloped back and forth, seemingly without a care in the world. And then I had to groom her... and I discovered that she had majorly reopened her wound from early December.

In early December, I came to the barn one day and discovered that Casey had gouged herself on something. The injury was on the upper back of her front left leg. The vet had to come out and give her crazy huge shots of antibiotics, and his verdict was that she had a 2 inch puncture wound that had been caused by a dull object. After much searching of her paddock, we found nothing and the farrier suggested that it might have been her own back hoof that did the damage.

The original injury from early December
The original injury from early December
Drugged Casey post-vet in December

The reopening of the wound is not nearly as bad as the original wound. It seems like she ripped off the scab and re-damaged the new tissue. It isn't a deep wound and there is not much swelling. Her behavior shows that she is obviously not feeling very hurt, but she also is going to be out of work for probably half the week.

The scabbed up wound from last week
The reopened wound from yesterday
The game plan is to treat it with Betadine twice per day until it scabs over again - to try to prevent infection. We didn't call the vet this time as the injury is much more minor and we caught it so early. The wound looked fresh, but wasn't bleeding, so my guess is she had re-injured it at most a few hours before I arrived at the barn. If it starts to look like it is becoming infected we will call the vet back out for more antibiotics.

She does not trust me getting near her wound because she HATES the Betadine
I'm super frustrated with the whole thing. We had literally only gotten back into regular work for a week and now she's out again with an injury. The only consolation is that this time it will only take about half a week to recover instead of a month. 

I talked with my trainer about what we can do to stop Casey from injuring herself and she said that she thinks the trigger is Casey not having the chance to get out. The first injury happened when I hadn't ridden her in two days and the temperature had majorly dropped. This injury happened when I hadn't ridden in two days as well. Our new plan is that on the days I know I won't be coming out my trainer will free-lunge Casey or throw her out in pasture. And on my end I already ride 5 days a week, but I will try to only skip 1 day at a time rather than 2. 

Since I couldn't ride yesterday, we just hung out together
Ideally, I would just be able to put Casey in turnout every day, but at my current barn that's just not a possibility. There are too many horses and not enough pastures. It is the biggest down-side of my barn, but the other factors make up for it so that's why I haven't left. I did ask my trainer if Casey can start going out into pasture more (at least an hour per day), but I'm not sure that its feasible. We will see, but I do think she needs to get more chances to run around.

Have you ever dealt with this type of injury? How did you treat it?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tekna LeTek Plus Close Contact Saddle Review

Tekna LeTek Plus Close Contact Saddle
As everybody who has ever gone through it knows, buying a saddle absolutely sucks. They are really expensive, but there is no guarantee that they will fit correctly, they all look pretty much the same, and it's really stressful. Buying a saddle sucks even more when you are trying to buy a jump saddle, but you live in the middle of Western riding country. I had no saddle shops even remotely near me, nor any saddle reps. But, I wanted my own saddle and so I turned to the internet for help.

After looking at many used saddles that were in crap condition (and still cost around $1000), I figured that there had to be a better option. And so that is how I discovered synthetic saddles. They were half the cost (or less) of a leather saddle, they were easy to take care of, and they have come a really long way in the recent years.

I considered several companies before I decided that Tekna seemed to be the best brand. My reasons for picking Tekna were:

  1. They have really solid reviews on their synthetic leather products. People really love their halters and bridles and had really great things to say about the quality of the fake leather.
  2. Their saddles utilize an adjustable gullet system (Quik-Change system). I was also considering Wintec saddles, but Tekna beat Wintec in terms of their gullet system. Basically Wintec & Bates saddles use the same replaceable gullet system, which has a flaw. The gullets have a slight kink which can cause saddle fitting issues. Tekna doesn't have this problem and so they beat Wintec in my eyes.
  3. They had many saddle designs at varied price ranges. This gave me options, which is always a good thing!
  4. They are a US company and so are easier to purchase for me (as compared to Thorowgood, which was another company I considered).
Out of the Tekna saddles, I ended up deciding on the Tekna LeTek Plus Close Contact Saddle. I picked this saddle because:
  • It is a traditional leather saddle on the top part (everything that you can see and sit on). This is nice because it looks just like a regular saddle (for all of those synthetic leather haters out there) and it is leather, so the feel under your leg is the same as a regular saddle.
  • It has synthetic leather sweat flaps and panels (which makes it easier to clean).
  • It is filled with latex/wool flocking that I can reflock if needed.

Tekna LeTek brand

Essentially, my saddle is a hybrid. It has all of the best features of a leather saddle, but has added benefits from the synthetic underside. It is easier to clean, it is much lighter, and - most importantly - it was only half the price of a full-leather saddle.

Leather upper
Synthetic parts

The retail price of this saddle is $975, but I ended up purchasing my saddle through Jeffers for $879 with a free Tekna snaffle bridle, reins, and stirrup leathers (around $100 value altogether). I think that this was a great price considering I got a brand new saddle. When I was looking at used saddles on Ebay, I saw ones that were used and in really not-great condition for around that price. I got a brand-new saddle that comes with its warranty and I know that nothing is wrong with it.

I ordered the 17 in seat saddle, which fits me really well (I am 5'3" and around 105 lbs).

Overall, I really like my saddle. It has the adjustable knee and thigh blocks which allows me to customize the fit of the saddle to my leg. It is not too slippery (although just like any leather product, it does need conditioning to keep it from getting slippery). I think that it has a traditional look, with some cool "tech-y" accents like the back of the cantel. I've owned it for about six months now and it has held up incredibly well and has broken in nicely. As an added perk - my saddle also came with its own saddle cover, so my saddle is one of three at my barn that actually get to be covered.

Movable knee block
Movable thigh blocks
Tech-y back of cantel

The adjustable gullet system has worked out really nicely for me. It came with a medium gullet plate and I purchased a medium-wide gullet plate for Casey (which fits well). The gullet plates are about $20-30 per plate, which might seem steep, but I only had to purchase one, so it wasn't too expensive. Changing the gullet was not very difficult. Basically you just turn a screw, pull the pommel area away from the gullet area, unscrew the gullet plate, screw in the new gullet plate, and put everything back together. My saddle was brand new and very stiff when I changed the gullet plate and so was at the peak of its resistance and it only took me about 20 minutes to switch the gullet plate.

Complimentary saddle cover
I don't slip in my saddle

As far as the cons of this saddle, I could not find any places that would allow a trial of the saddle, which might scare some people off. I took the chance because I figured it should fit with the adjustable gullet. The other con is that the leather color is a little bit worn off underneath the stirrup leathers. I think that part of this is the Tekna stirrup leathers were rubber and so had too much friction, causing excess rubbing. So I would not recommend the Tekna stirrup leathers. I do think it is normal for saddles to get rub marks underneath the stirrup leathers, so I'm not sure that this one factor should stop you from buying the saddle if you are interested. 

Rubs on leather from stirrup leathers

Really the leather rubs is my only true complaint about the saddle, but a very minor complaint is that the "brown" color of my saddle is definitely slightly reddish hued. You can see it in the pictures with the stirrup leathers (which are more a true brown). It's not a bad color, but it does make it hard to match other leather products to it. 

Slightly red color of saddle as compared to stirrup leathers

I love my saddle. If I had gone with a different company I would have had to either buy a used saddle (which has its own litany of problems) or I would still be paying it off. I was able to get a brand-new saddle, that I got to pick out, and that I was able to pay off right away! Three wins for Tekna!

Casey loves her saddle, because it fits her well!

Easy to jump in

Monday, January 16, 2017

DIY Detangler

Casey has a problem. Her problem is that her poor tail cannot handle the extremity of this winter. It is so dry and fragile that when I try to brush it huge chunks just break off into my hand. Now, I'm not vain and I really doubt that Casey cares about how beautiful her tail is, but I also don't want her to be tail-less and it this rate that's where we are headed, so I decided to do something about it.
Casey's sad, dry tail

I asked around at my barn what other people use to condition their horses tails during the winter. If we were in summer I would just apply conditioner and rinse it off, but it's too cold to get Casey wet. People at the barn told me to use detangler or fancy horse leave-in conditioner, but I thought that there had to be a cheaper option so I turned to the internet.

I found a recipe for detangler online. The recipe was 1/3 cup conditioner, 1/3 cup water, and 1/3 cup vinegar (either white or apple). I went to the dollar store to get some cheap conditioner (I got the Suave brand) and a spray bottle, then I went home and made it.

I used the whole bottle of conditioner and then just used that as my unit of measurement, so I followed the conditioner with a bottle full of water, and then a bottle full of white vinegar. Then I shook it all up and poured it into my spray bottles. I ended up with a spray bottle and a half of detangler (luckily I had a little spray bottle on hand). The total cost was only $2, since I had the vinegar already.
DIY Detangler

Doing a DIY project always can turn out wrong so I was very anxious to test my new hair product on Casey, so today I went to the barn and used the detangler in her mane and tail. It worked very well as a detangler, she had minimal hair loss and my brush was able to easily run through her thick tail. It made her mane and tail slightly shiny, but not too oily. My only concern was that it could dry with a residue, but I didn't notice any residue about an hour after application.
Tail before detangler
Tail after detangler
Mane after detangler

Overall, this was a super easy and cheap DIY. I saved myself at least $5-10. In addition, this stuff seems to work! Casey's tail is now conditioned and tangle-free and as an added bonus she now smells nice!
Forelock after detangler

1/16/17 Lesson Recap: The Story of the Errant Limbs

Today Casey and I had our first lesson in over a month. Going into the lesson, I had some ideas about what I wanted to get out of it. I wanted to get feedback on the progress we have made since our last lesson, I wanted to learn some new exercises that Casey & I could work on outside of our lessons, and I wanted my trainer to be critical of of us so that we could make improvements. I know some people who really can't handle any critical feedback when they ride, and my trainer is really good at dealing with those people. I think if anything, she struggles to give criticism and be blunt. However, when I directly ask her about things she is honest with me. So I went into my lesson prepared to be open to this criticism. 

Right before we started the lesson, I asked my trainer if we could work on leg yields and shoulder-in today, because Casey and I have gotten to the point that bending and collection are a part of our regular routine. We started by working with Casey in-hand on the ground, asking her to yield to thumb pressure. Basically the purpose of this was to see if she understood the concept at all. She seemed to get it, so I hoped on. We started with a relaxed, loose-rein walk for a few circles. Then I rode Casey a few feet away and parallel to the arena wall and asked her to leg-yield over to the wall while keeping the forward momentum. She kind of did this, but was leading with her shoulders and wasn't moving her haunches well so trainer asked us to come over to her to break the movement down even more for Casey. We stopped next to trainer and trainer held Casey's reins and asked me to leg-yield and as soon as Casey took a step with her back legs, stop and give her praise. Casey was able to do this, but as soon as trainer stopped holding her front end, Casey refused. Trainer then asked me to circle her at a walk and gradually spiral in, making a circle so small that Casey's front feet would barely move and her butt would swing around. Casey was able to do this, so we repeated it a few times. Overall Casey seems to be really bad at leg yielding, but if we break it into baby exercises like these she will figure out what I am asking and it will come easier to her. So I will keep working on this on our own! 

After working on leg yielding, I asked Casey for a trot. She was sluggish after all of that complicated yielding work and trainer told me to just ride her at where she was at. She gradually picked up pace and eventually resumed normal trotting. At this point in our joint training, Casey has got the trot down. She bends well at the trot, she can collect and extend her trot, and she keeps a consistent pace. Trainer turned her attention on me and my body position. She isolated her instruction for each particular part of my body, giving me a new thing to focus on every lap. The first lap she told me to keep my hands soft and apart. and barely use my reins (Casey handled this really well). This was easy for me. The next lap she told me to focus on bending my elbows with my movements so that my hands could remain still. This required some thought, but wasn't hard either. Next lap she told me to keep my shoulders back and my chin up while looking into the horizon. I got that easily. She then asked me to keep my feet further back, because I was pushing them too far forward. I could do that too. 

Then things got harder. 

Trainer asked me if I could feel my legs sliding on the leather. I told her yes and she told me, "well they shouldn't."  She told me that I had been posting from the balls of my feet, but really I should be posting from my thighs. So I trotted the next lap paying a lot of attention to keeping my legs tight and "stuck" to the saddle. This wasn't actually hard for me, it just required a lot of my attention. And then it got even harder. Trainer asked me to make my post as small as possible. This sucked. I could do it, but it required so much attention that in doing so, the rest of my body fell apart. I would finally get a small post and realize that my upper body has tensed and crumpled forward, or that my hands had suddenly decided to end up right next to each other. We did probably three laps of this and then got a walk break. This instruction was super helpful, because now I know what I will spend all of the time before my next lesson working on! 

After our walk break we trotted the other direction for a few laps and then trainer asked me to do a four-loop serpentine. Basically it involved crossing the arena multiple times and changing the bend in the turns. This was supposed to be a difficult exercise for Casey, because we haven't worked a lot at changing the bend back and forth, but she handled it like a champ! We only did this exercise twice, once each way and then ended it, because it was so easy for her. Go Casey!
Four-loop serpentine

This had been a lot of flatwork at this point and we were running short on lesson time, so for the canter we did nothing super fancy. We cantered each way alternating between cantering the whole arena, 20 meter circles, and 15 meter circles. Casey was really good, she gave me the most calm and collected left lead canter that I've probably ever gotten from her. Trainer had only positive things to say about our canter. She is super impressed with Casey and how well she is doing at collecting at the canter. Her feedback for me was to practice a sitting canter more, but told me that I will only be successful at this when Casey is collected in her canter. She told me to sit the canter when cantering the 15 and 20 meter circles, but when cantering the whole arena, since Casey opens her stride so much, I should just stay in my half-seat to keep her balanced.

After cantering it was time for jumping! We started by jumping a crossrail on the end and then doing a rollback to the other crossrail on that end. We did this each direction. Then we jumped the dark blue crossrail to the white vertical (2'3"), and the other outside line (which wasn't a spread yet). Trainer then bumped up all of the jumps to just under 2'9" and set up the spread and the oxer jumps. We started by just doing two lines at a time. First we did the dark blue to light blue, then white to dark blue. The second line was hogsback to pink (bending line), then light blue to the spread. This was an interesting ride, because I don't think Casey had ever jumped the spread before and she got all the way up to it, hesitated and looked at it, and then jumped it. My perception of it was that it was slow motion, I was sure she was going to stop and she deer-hopped it at the last minute, but the video footage shows she didn't actually slow down too much.

Arena jump set-up
Jumping the pink vertical
Jumping the light blue vertical

After doing some lines, we did a course. It was hogsback to light blue (bending line), white to dark blue (outside line coming home), oxer to white (bending line), and light blue to spread (other outside line coming home). It didn't ride terribly, the only major error was that after the first line Casey lost her canter so we had to circle to pick it back up again, but it didn't ride super well either. Trainer and I discussed it after, but basically Casey is not collecting herself while jumping lines and so she ends up just rushing to the jump and jumping over her shoulder. I try to help her out by half-halting, but she is unresponsive to it while on course. What ends up happening is that we are "discussing" what speed to be going and how collected to be right before jumps and so we get not the best approaches. Trainer wants to stick Casey in a running martingale to give me a little bit of extra leverage so that we can get Casey sitting back on her haunches more, which will set her up for more success as the jumps go up. 

Going home
Light blue jump
Pink jump

My trainer's feedback doesn't surprise me, this was all stuff I knew about Casey, but it was helpful to get advice on where to go from here. I know my horse is talented, but she is also very green and so it is really important to set her up for success, especially because we are getting to bigger jumps where mistakes are much more costly.

My overall take on this lesson was that it was super helpful, I now know tons of things that Casey & I can work on. What was really apparent in this lesson was how much progress we have made. We still have things to work on, but they are all entirely new things. It's like we graduated to a new level!

She gives me side-eye, but she loves me

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Attitude Check

This was the first week that Casey had gone back into work after an injury. At the beginning of December she injured herself on her front left leg, right next to her belly. The vet had to make an emergency visit and he said that Casey had a 2 inch deep puncture wound. He said that she had stabbed herself with a dull object and after searching for said object (which did not exist), we decided that she probably had stabbed herself with her own back hoof. She was out of work for probably 2 weeks, but after that I went to Colorado for a week, and upon my return, Oregon got hit with crazy winter weather that shut down EVERYTHING.
She got all dressed up in her new ear bonnet for this ride

Considering that Casey had nearly a full month off, I was expecting her to take a while to get back into shape, but she has been doing really well. We started off with some casual, short rides and have been gradually building up the intensity of our work-outs. Her physical state is now close to where it was before (yay for Thoroughbred's crazy fitness levels!), but a surprising element is that she has come back with a bit of an attitude issue!
Smoke-breathing dragon!
She is feeling good enough to gallop around like a crazy horse

Our ride was a pretty standard hack. We started with a free-walk on a long rein, then trotted and worked on bending on a circle while maintaining impulsion. For all of this, Casey was being a doll, but then we cantered and post-canter she decided to be awful. She did not want to walk after the canter. When I insisted on a walk, she decided that the appropriate reaction was to jig her way into a trot. I then told her no through some half-halt and a deep seat and she started purpoising (teeny up and down "bucks"). When I reprimanded her with a stern no and half-halt she decided to full-out buck! She got into BIG trouble for that and afterwards didn't buck anymore (although the annoying jigging continued for a bit). 
She's so cute, but acted AWFUL today

This attitude issue is not ok with me and I don't really know why she thinks she will get away with it. I think that if I am just consistent with what I am asking and with reprimanding her when she is bad, then she will get over herself. The problem is mostly that she does not want to walk after the canter while I have rein contact. She will walk if I throw my reins away. This doesn't work for me though so we did some training.
No jigging at the loose-rein walk

I would ask her to trot, and then ask for a walk while keeping my rein contact. She would jig a bit, but as soon as she started calmly walking then I would throw my reins away and praise her to give her positive reinforcement. I figure if I am consistent with this, eventually she will figure it out. After that we can work on staying at the walk when I pick up rein contact, but baby steps!
Loose reins = happy walking horsie

After working on flatwork for probably half an hour, I decided to reward Casey by popping over some jumps. A 2'6"-2'9" course was set up in the arena, so I dropped a line of jumps into cross-rails and we went over that line each way and then did three or so jump lines at the larger height. She was very good for this. Casey loves to jump and so after working on some difficult flatwork, I like to let her do what she loves. We keep it short though, because tomorrow we have a jump lesson!

Post-workout snack time