Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More Riding

Wednesdays I usually get off work early, so I'm going to try to make a lot of them barn days. There is a good chance Robin will join me for most of them. I wasn't sure if she would today, as she got out for a ride with Jean this morning. But after a little work and lunch, she was ready to head back out.

And I'm glad she came. Well, I always enjoy it when she comes, but with her and Steen there I knew Bear would be up for going out into the fields. And he was.

Bear and I cruising through the fields.

Again the tacking up went smoothly. I'll probably have to stop mentioning it soon. But today was slightly noteworthy as I picked his feet for the first time. I haven't mentioned it before, but the first time I rode Bear I had a hard time with his feet. Or maybe he had a hard time with his feet. As a fifteen year old we thought he was just really, really stiff in the hind end. When I picked one of them up, it shot back like a rubber band and kind of kicked me in the side of the leg. Not a huge deal, but I was a little worried about the long term issue of this stiffness and the fact that I would have to frequently clean out his hooves.

The vet check was great, though. And we were assured that such stiffness shouldn't be a big deal at all (in fact, he was not nearly as stiff as we though). So we took things easy on Bear and went slow with his feet. While some of it was no doubt stiffness and being out of practice, some of it might have just been him not knowing us and being reluctant to hand over a hoof. Today he lifted his feet like a gentleman. I think it is a nice sign of our progressing relationship.

Out on the ride things were nice. It was a cool, cloudy day, and Steen was riled up. He was antsy on his first ride, and that carried over into the afternoon. Bear and I would walk at a steady pace, and Steen and Robin would get up ahead. When he started getting goey Robin would turn him in lots of circles. He seemed OK with this. But he never fully settled down.

Robin spinning Steen in circles.

Bear and I had a couple of moments where he wanted to pick the direction. I was much better at letting him know that I was in charge, and after a few moments of hesitation he was very willing to follow along. Bear is great practice for me in many ways. He gets slightly agitated and tests me at times, but once that brief moment is over, he goes back to standing and relaxing like nothing ever happened. So I get to build confidence and assert my authority, but I don't have to deal with a worked up horse the whole ride. It's great.

Bear decided to go visit the camera woman (I got him turned where I wanted to go right after the picture, I swear).

The route just consisted of us going out and about on the second strip of grass and the three-hills section. The hills were new to Bear. He was pretty alert and curious about the wild turkeys, but other than that he was mostly fine with the new territory.

After the ride there were many face scratches and pets. I put him out to pasture and put his fly-mask (which is now a bit muddied) on with no problem. Watching him walk away I can already see that he's getting some muscle back into his haunches. It shouldn't be too long before his top-line muscles fill in a bit more and his gut starts shrinking.

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