Saturday, February 13, 2010

First Ride

After sleeping in and having a great morning ski with Robin, we went over to the barn to keep working with Sham and Steen. Robin went out yesterday and rode Steen and also put in some time with Sham. He had a small cut on his leg from the trailer ride, and Robin made sure that was starting to heal up. Then she did some leading and ground work with him. So that was the plan for today, too. Neosporin and ground work.

Before coming inside we turned Sham loose in the airlock so he could meet Steen. There was some quiet sniffing and a little bit of chase at the trot. But it was mostly uneventful. It turns out my horse has one of those indifferently dominant personalities. He is just kind of in charge, but he doesn't force things on others. I think that is a good way to be.

Unfortunately, that personality, and his previous training as a ranch horse, mean he's not that good on the ground. He is a bit of a barger. I can usually make him back up, but the leading around in the indoor arena was very hit or miss today. It is true there were three other horses getting ready to go out for a ride, and he's also still getting used to things. But it made for some tough moments. I'm not the most effective horse handler yet. When I ask them to do something that they really know how to do, then I'm OK. Almost good, really. But when we're both in the gray area, I'm not so in charge anymore.

Still, with some coaching from Robin I think we made a little progress. And with that small progress we stopped short and put him in the tie stall. With some grooming and then putting Steen's saddle on him he calmed right down. He is definitely good at standing quietly and being patient. Steen's saddle fit him quite nicely, which is good, because I think I want the same one. It fits me nicely, too. And the bridle with the loose ring snaffle went into his mouth much more easily than the curb the ranch guys were using.

Once we knew all the tack worked out, I looked at Robin and asked if we should put him back out. She kind of smiled and said, "well, we could ride him." This was not the initial plan. We wanted to get him settled and not ask too much of him in his new place. But I had to admit he was looking pretty settled.

Not settled enough for me to jump on him, though. OK, that's not totally true. He was settled down enough for that, but I had not fully settled down after our fumblings at the ground work. So Robin got on and they did some very nice walking and trotting. I watched and held the very unsettled Steen. Maybe it was the game of chase between him and Sham earlier, but Steen was not super happy to be hanging out with us today.

After Robin's brief ride I lengthened the stirrups and climbed on.

He is very good under saddle. Super relaxed and not worried about a thing. He stands well. He flexes to the bit well. He stops well. And he's got big, energetic gaits. He will be really fun to work with. It will just take some time for me to get used to him. I kind of think he's almost used to me already. Except with the leading part.

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