Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Good Seat

That's what I had today. Of course, Bear didn't bolt or buck or run off or do anything quite like that. But he wasn't on his best behavior, either. He'd often express his desire to go in a direction different than the one I picked, his starts and stops were slightly unpredictable, and he would occasionally turn in a rough and hasty manner or jump into a brief trot.

And I sat it all rather comfortably. Without a saddle. I had the same light pad setup as yesterday, but from the moment I got on it felt significantly better. Even the mounting itself was better. Last time my leg pushed the pad up in an uncomfortable way for Bear, so today I was conscious of the possibility of that happening again. As a result my first mount attempt didn't have enough umph in it. I got halfway up and petered out. Bear didn't mind in the slightest. The next leap was big and smooth and I slid up with no problem. Again, Bear didn't move.

But as good as my seat felt, it wasn't that great of a ride. Bear was just off. He wasn't paying great attention to me, and he was not enjoying the ride. Shortly after I came up with a few exercises to keep us going, Robin said that he almost looked physically uncomfortable. So I got off to examine the pads and just give him a break.

Nothing stood out to me as causing a problem, so I exchanged his bridle for a rope halter and long line and walked out into the soybean field. We did some light groundwork, and he was actually quite responsive. Much more responsive than he was during our brief, pre-ride groundwork.

We then moved on to some trotting on the line and disengages, and this is where some interesting reactions came up. Like most times, going left was no big deal for him. But going right was another story. There were many bucks, slide outs, and snorty, choppy lopes. We are still unsure if he is physically uncomfortable with turning right (this seems increasingly unlikely given the calm, collected, and rather tight right turns I've been getting under saddle) or if he has a psychological issue with turning right. I've seen some small bucks on the line during right turns before, but I've also seen some pretty calm right turn work. This time he was a little off during the ride, and my guess is that he could sense I was not thrilled with him. So I want to think that he was nervous and defensive and a little scared to go right.

But I have no idea (and Robin doesn't either, when she worked with Bear on the line he was giving her the same response). I've only had Bear for about six weeks now, and we clearly have a lot to learn about one another. The good news is that we get along great, and despite the few minutes of excitement, Bear didn't have any problems calming down and coming to me for pets and praise. We'll just have to keep going slow and spending lots of time hanging out together.

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