Sunday, August 29, 2010

And Three Makes a Habit

I've had three rides on Bear, all including a little outdoors and indoors, and each one was quite good. And as the saying goes with horses, three is habit. So I have no doubt we will continue to have wonderful rides for quite some time.

But they won't be without their hiccups and challenges, and today I saw a few of those already. It was by far the most crowded the barn has been since Bear moved in. Lots of horses were in their stalls, Cathi (the barn owner) and her daughter were doing chores, and Jean was tacking up her big thoroughbred, Schooley.

Bear initially stood quietly, and though we tied him in the same general area as we did yesterday, there was now a young mare right in front of him. I don't think he would have been too bothered by this, but that mare has a bit of reputation for being a hussy, and she was doing her best to get Bear to break into her stall. So there were a few stamps, kicks, and squeals.

All in all, it was quite minor. We moved Bear down a bit and tied him next to some geldings. No more problems.

Once outside he was moving nicely and responding to my ques very quickly. Jean and Schooley accompanied Robin and I, so we had a threesome (or sixsome if you count the mounts, too). Bear was very relaxed around Schooley, and it looked like the thoroughbred had the same feelings for Bear. Perhaps old bays just get along.

We walked along between fields, and went through one rather overgrown area. The brush was up to our boots in some places, but none of the horses cared. After a long, slow warmup, Jean left to go work Schooley, and Robin and I continued on to another section of trail. We got close to home and this was the first time Bear strongly voiced his opinion on where we should go. I think he was tired, but that was no reason for me to let him pick the route. We were only going to add a little section of double track and then head for home.

We had a few moments where I'd turn him right and then he'd turn back left. I'd say go forward and he'd go backwards. Nothing terrible, but Bear is pretty strong. Much stronger than Cal, the mare I got used to riding out on the trails last fall. Since I didn't know how Bear would react to my insisting we continue down the trail, I started by asking pretty nicely and then slowly increased the pressure. He got the idea and willingly walked down the trail.

So we had my first little test, and it worked out just fine. I'm sure there will be a few more of these over the coming weeks and months, but that's all part of the fun.

When we got back into the barn we brought out our big sponge and cooled the guys down. I'm not sure if Bear had ever been sponged down before, as he was a little uncertain and fidgety, but once he felt the cool water he settled right in. Like me, I think he's looking forward to the true fall temps that should be just around the corner.

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