Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Long Visitor Report

Friday was one of those awful spring days, wet, windy, and quite cold.  So we skipped our usual Friday-at-the-barn routine.  Plus we knew my sister Christina was coming to visit this weekend and we were going to spend plenty of time at the barn the next couple of days.

Saturday the weather was not much better.  As I enjoyed my coffee and a book in the morning, it snowed sideways.  By the time Christy got to our house and we were able to leave for the barn it was a little bit warmer, but the guys were not in a great mood when we got there.  Bear was OK, but Steen was not at all pleased.  He was hungry and freezing.  We tried to groom them after they rolled, but they were not all that settled, so we just fed them some chopped hay to get their minds on something else.

After that, they were both pretty good.  Robin did some groundwork with Steen and I got Bear tacked up and warmed him up in the arena.  He was riding like a dream.  His neck reining was amazing, his trot was smooth, and he was paying a lot of attention to me.

I kept it short and then put Christy up on him.  We started with me just leading the two of them around the arena with the mecate.


They were both very relaxed, so I turned things over to Christy.  This is when Bear decided to be a butthead.  He would only go back.  And back, and back, and back.  With some help from Robin, we finally got them going, but Bear challenged Christy the whole time.

Christy does not have horse experience.  She's visited with some of the horses my mother rides, and she rode my sister-in-law's horse once, about three years ago.  However, she was doing a really good job keeping Bear going.  I was amazed that she didn't get more flustered. I certainly would have. Do, actually, as Bear does the same thing to me sometimes.


After that extremely poor performance from Bear, I had to climb on him again and make him work.  Physically, it felt like he was pissed at me for letting someone else ride him.  It was kind of funny really, as he wasn't awful.  I just had to work to get him trotting, then we went through a lot of patterns, gait changes, backs, and everything else I know.  He didn't fully come around to where he was before Christy rode him, but he did start to relax and respond to my cues more quickly.  When I climbed off he was his usual, easy-going self, acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  Very funny.

A calmed down Steen kept Christy company while I worked Bear.
Sunday we went back out to the barn and again it was empty (most of the boarders were at a show).  It was a much warmer and calmer day, and we found many of the horses snoozing in the pasture.  We decided to just bring Steen inside at first and see if he was up for letting Christy ride him.

Steen was a completely different horse than yesterday.  He was about as mellow as I've ever seen him.  So we groomed him up and let Christy hop on.  Again, she did great.  Steen is not at all inclined to challenge a rider like Bear will, so he was quite willing to let her steer him around the arena.  A few times he wanted to go to Robin in the middle, but Christy was able to keep him on the rail. Robin will have some photos of them on her blog.

After their ride I brought Bear in and he was in a grumpy and funky mood.  I let him run around the arena initially, and then we did some groundwork without a line.  He was moving very fast, but he was also extremely responsive.  But while I was grooming him he would not stand still.  I had to be as firm as I could to get him to back up after he would creep forward, but it would never last.

Robin was busy working with Steen and Christy, but she saw my frustration and recommended I take him in the arena and make him work as soon as he creeps again.  It was a very good idea.  So the next time he creeped forward I brought him into the arena and made him trot left, stop and disengage, then trot right, and repeat.

He was a little feisty but also quite responsive.  I tied him up again, but he only stood nicely for a few seconds.  So we went back to the arena for more work.  He was even feistier this time, but still responsive.  This time when I brought him back to the tie area he stood like his feet were in cement.  His head came down and he was a completely different horse.  I finished the grooming and tacking and hopped on.


Under saddle he was just like yesterday (the first time yesterday).  He was perfect at following the rail and responding to neck reining, his trot was smooth and relaxed, and his stops were nice.  They could have been nicer, but they were still good.  I kept the ride short because we had been there a long time and also the inside of my knees are bothering me a little from the saddle.  I spent a lot of time oiling the lower part of the stirrups so they would twist nicely (and they do), but I didn't work the upper part of the fender that hits my knee.  This week I'll try to get to it.

Giving Bear some much deserved pets.



I guess Bear is just really becoming my horse.  It is definitely a nice feeling, but it would be nice if he would occasionally let other people ride him.  I certainly don't want to get in the habit of putting a lot of different people on my horse, but every once in a while it is nice.

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