It is starting to feel like Fall a little bit around here.  This morning was clear and crisp and it actually felt kind of nice to be able to wear a big, comfy sweatshirt for a while.  I have a roommate who has a friend staying with us for a day or two.  The three of us decided it was such a perfect morning that we'd all walk down to the coffee shop together with all 6 of our dogs!!  Oh the stares we got from passersby! haha  Such a happy, tail wagging bunch.  A delightful way to start off a fresh day - friends, dogs, and coffee!

It warmed up a bit by the time I got out to Aspen's and she met me at the gate again today, impatiently waiting for me to arrive!  Poor thing has another mysterious injury... I don't know if it's a cut of some kind or an abscess that broke out on her coronet band.  I didn't have anything handy to really clean it out and it seems tender to the touch but she's sound.  Another thing to keep an eye on!  :(

She has our routine down pretty good, I halter her, mosey through the field toward the arena doing a little grazing along the way, then into the arena and straight over to her grain pan where I brush her and get her ready for our play time.  So today I decided to hide the grain pan in the arena :)  Boy was she confused!  She made her beeline for the area I normally feed her in and when she found no grain she was so surprised!  She started sniffing all around, looking in the wheelbarrow, in my brush box, trying to find it.  She gave up and rolled for a while to get the flies off and then continued her search for the grain.  Finally found it hiding behind one of my markers for the weave/figure-8 patterns.  :)

On the ground we played with sideways without a fence - which is coming along SO great, some figure-8's at the trot, and then more on a better quality circle.  She offered some really nice canter circles, though did get to bucking in some of them.  Was all LB - couldn't tell if it was flies or just feeling playful.  I asked for some rapid changes of direction which really got her blood up - she can really move when she wants to!  So playful when we do these - it's a beautiful thing to see!

I got my new girth finally so I can ride again and got on with the idea of having zero brace.  I wanted her not to resent my presence on her back and eventually she started listening for some of my ideas.  :)  We did a little follow the rail at the beginning which included going over a very small jump, maybe 12" high.  She trotted over and "landed" in a canter!!!  Now, I know ideally she should have maintained gait and not started cantering BUT it was our FIRST canter since she's been back!!  It was SO nice and felt SO good!!!  It would have felt better if I had a saddle that I could really balance in.  Mine just jostles me around everywhere which is such a pain in the butt.  I am looking to buy a Frank Baines Enduro or a Parelli GP Saddle if anyone has one for sale!!!

Aspen has a lot of brace in the halter when I'm riding so we played with some more softness there.  She was bracing harder to the left today, but by the end was improving a little.  She's really got the 9 step backup down, now we just have to work on straightness and better posture through her neck and head during the backup.

For me I really want to improve on maintaining the correct position on my balance point when riding and using a TON of focus and 4oz or less of physical pressure on my horse.  I want to use my BODY and LEGS before my hands when riding.  And I want to come up with better plans for our rides and become more particular without being critical.  I'd also like to figure out why Aspen braces in her neck so bad when I dismount and put my hand on her mane. 

For Aspen I would like to see her soften to the halter when I'm riding and have more rhythm and relaxation when we move up into a trot.  I'd like for her to be a more willing partner when I am riding and look for the right answers like she does when we play on the ground.

The next two days at work are going to be crazy with our Labor Day Rodeo going on in town so I most likely won't see Aspen until sometime next week.  :(  Lots of time however to review my DVDs at home, learn some new knots, and develop a better plan for riding.

On September 16th I have a lesson with PP Jenny Trainor and fellow Parelli student Melanie Martin-Dent and her husband.  I am so happy that they will be coming to Dillon as I don't have a trailer yet - I can't wait to have Jenny's input on many of the things I need help with! 

And...I do have one more piece of exciting news but that will have to wait until next week.  Check back to see what it is!!