Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The One Where I Fall Off, Again

The barn was empty when Robin and I arrived this afternoon. The sky was slightly cloudy and the temperatures were neither too warm nor too cool. Plus they had mowed the strip, one of our favorite places to ride.

Steen was waiting almost right by the gate when we entered the pasture, but Bear was way down at the end. So I had a bit of hike to get him. As usual, he was happy to see me and more than ready to start to fall asleep while I groomed and tacked him up. Since we would be riding on the strip, I decided to give the loose ring snaffle another go. I brought the tom thumb headstall with in case I needed it.

Bear and I started with lots of walking back and forth on the strip. There were two rather large hay bales a good distance from one another, so we would periodically circle around those and work on backing and flexing to the bit. He was quite relaxed for all this. In fact, he was neck reining better than he usually does in the tom thumb. I have a feeling that bit was pinching him a little.

After a thorough warm-up we started doing lots of trotting. With the snaffle it was easier for me to control his speed, but he still has a big, floaty trot. It is mostly fun, I just need to keep practicing at it. And what I really need to practice dealing with are his tight turns. He is a very agile little horse. Robin gave me a few pointers for how to lengthen the arc of the turn by applying pressure to the outside rein. I worked on this at the walk and Bear seemed pretty receptive.

We continued to do lots of trotting. During this time, Robin and Steen were doing their own work. Lost of circling, trotting, and loping. They were definitely busy, and Bear was often interested in them. Thankfully I could get him to pay more attention to me after we'd join up and then split apart.

Although one time I was working on some tight circles with Bear so that Robin and Steen could lope off in the other direction, Bear had other things on his mind. We had been trotting for quite some time, so Bear was tired (he's actually putting on a bit more weight). In mid circle, he saw the open end of the strip, the one we enter and exit from, and he eagerly jumped in that direction. I reined him in and turned him away from the entrance.

And he listened, which is great. He just stopped and changed direction so fast that I fell right over the side him and landed on my already sore right butt cheek. He slowly walked off towards Robin and Steen. At least he didn't walk out of the strip, which is where he wanted to go originally.

When I caught back up he was super calm. Like nothing had happened. I did a few flexes to the bit and climbed back on. He was fine. So after a few minutes of walking around the hay bales, we went back to the end of the strip, and I made him do some figure-eights. Sometimes we'd walk right up to the edge of the strip, stop, and then back. He didn't love that part, but he was still pretty good with it.

After I hopped off he still wanted to be my best friend and get lots of head scratches. He's so funny. And I really can't be too mad at him. Sure he got a little excited at one point, but then he completely did what I asked of him. I just couldn't keep my seat. Perhaps next time I'll be ready.

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