Friday, October 8, 2010

Hill Walking

The weather continues to be perfect in this region of the US, and Robin and I went out to the barn hoping for a quiet ride through the fields. The barn was empty when we arrived, which is always a good sign. In the pasture the guys were working hard to get at the last of the grass. Steen saw us from a ways off and walked right over. It was the fourth or fifth day in a row that he's done that.

Bear on the other hand looked up, and then kept eating. He was more than happy to see me when I got up to him, but he was not about to walk over. I guess that is the difference between two and a half years of partnership. Or one of the differences at least.

Since we were thinking of heading out and about I put a saddle on. And it felt good to be in the saddle after a couple days of bareback. Bear was fine during our warmup and more than happy to walk through a few circles on the strip.

Out in the fields he was a tad antsy, though. There was a silo nearby that was getting pumped full of grain, and the loud sounds were not making the guys happy. They both kept looking sharply in that direction as we walked by. Then the field started to slope downhill and before I knew it Bear was bolting off down the grade and away from the noise. This surprised me more than a little bit. I got him under control without much problem, but he was still pretty keyed up. I've gotten used to him settling down rather quickly after such antics, so this left me a little keyed up.

I tried to relax as the four of us strolled through the soybean field. It is full of big rolling hills, so it was really nice. As I took deep, calming breaths I kept hoping Bear would do the same, but didn't. In the grand scheme of horse behaviors he was pretty darn relaxed, but I've just gotten so used to a super relaxed horse that I didn't know what to think.

We decided to just keep walking our big loops. We knew we weren't doing anything that should really upset him, so we just kept an eye on him. He would get better at times, but then again he had a small bolt on another downhill section.

After a little more walking we determined he was tight in the hips. This is not a huge surprise as he has been tight in the hips before. As we continued our easy walking we worked at keeping things as stress free as possible. This is finally when Bear started to settle down. On one of the last downhill sections he started taking little, slow, quiet steps. He knew that is what I was asking him to do. I know it felt better for him physically, and I think he was also eager to please me. He got a lot of "good boy"s and scratches after that one.

We finished the day with some relaxed grazing on the strip. I took this time to also stretch out Bear's legs. He was definitely tight in the hind end, but he truly appreciated me slowly pulling his legs out behind him. Robin said he would stop grazing, lift his head up, and just relax into the stretch. We went through a few rounds of that. I'll have to remember to keep it up in the future, but I'm pretty sure tomorrow I'll just give him a nice day off in the pasture.

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