Monday, October 4, 2010

A Horsey Weekend

Again the weather was beautiful. The night times had frost warnings, but I don't think we ever got quite below freezing. The days were sunny and warmed up in the high 50s on Saturday and into the 60s on Sunday. We rode both days.

Saturday was a surprisingly busy day at the barn. We actually woke up early and got a decent start on the day, but so did some others. Two boarders were heading to a show (and trying to load Stella, who we're pretty sure had never been loaded before), the farrier came to fix a shoe, and the vet was there to help two other boarders with a skin condition that sometimes bothers the horses during wet weather. Oh, and the farmers were knocking down all the corn in the area, so there were some big horse-eating machines out there in the fields.

Bear took it all in stride and wasn't bothered by a thing. Steen on the other hand was a little wound up. Robin had a long, hard ride with him on Friday, and he has been feeling so good that he just wants to go sometimes. I think all the commotion added to that desire to go.

So while Robin worked on getting Steen to calm down a bit and pay attention to her, Bear and I had a wonderful time refining our cone work on the strip. For the past couple of weeks we've really been working on flexing to the snaffle bit. He has gotten a lot better at it, but in that work I've kind of neglected the old fashion neck reining that he knows. So I consciously worked on that a bit more. The combination of a little direct reining (when needed) and the neck reining seems to work very well for him. We also did a little pre- and post-ride groundwork. All the stuff we fumbled through on Friday was even better on Saturday.

Sunday was almost the opposite of Saturday. The barn was empty, and the guys were good. Steen was especially well behaved. Bear was slightly distracted and wanted to hang out with Steen while we worked on the strip, but he was still good.

After a lot of strip work we decided to head out for a ride around the recently mowed soy bean fields. The guys seemed happy about it. Bear was walking energetically and checking everything out. It had been awhile since we last did some exploring, and I think he might have missed it. Steen stayed super calm, though. At times he was almost falling asleep.

In general, such relaxation is a good thing, but Steen is easily spookable. And sure enough, right when he was at his most relaxed he got spooked by something in the trees to our left. I was behind Robin and Steen at the time, so I got a great view of Steen dropping way down, pausing for just a split second to load all his muscles and tendons, and then springing out away from the trees.

I didn't get to watch much more than that because Bear was also watching Steen, and he decided to turn and run off as well. His action was fast, but not as fast or as powerful as our last spook. I did end up dropping my right stirrup, but I was able to keep him in a calm lope (our first, actually) up one of the soy bean hills. Eventually we stopped and in a matter of seconds Bear was back to his usual calm self. We all calmly walked back to the barn and had no more issues. Such spooks are never a great thing, but at least they let me work on my reflexes and continue to build confidence.

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