Saturday, April 9, 2011

Trotting in Traffic

Robin and I woke up really early this Saturday.  We had plenty of time to enjoy our coffee, read (or write, for Robin), have a nice breakfast and still make it to the barn early.  We were rewarded by having the place to ourselves.

For about five minutes.  Other boarders must have had the same thought as us, for just as we pulled our guys out of the pasture another boarder showed up.  She is often quick and efficient with her barn visits, and we had dirty, shedding horses, so we just took our time getting ready while she rode in the arena.

But just when we were getting closer to riding another boarder showed up with her boyfriend and boyfriend's parents.  Everyone was very nice, and our guys were super happy to hang out and receive pets and compliments from the visitors.  After a nice chat, we got into the arena and started our ride.

Bear was quite good from the beginning.  We followed the rail just to get warmed up and he was mostly sticking to it.  The commotion might have distracted him a little bit, but his infractions were not serious enough for me to really get on him.  Instead we kept going and worked on backs and stops.  After reading an interesting reining article that included some thoughts on backing, Robin tried it on Bear.  It seems he knows it really well.  So I did a lot of backing to get him thinking.  And it is fun to see him tuck his head nicely and back up however far I ask him to go.

After a few minutes we were joined by the boarder and her older Arabian.  We weren't worried about our horses as all three of the guys live together.  At first I was feeling a little crowded with three of us in the 60 by 90 foot arena, but then I got more comfortable.  And after seeing Robin and Steen executing an extremely relaxed jog, I asked Bear for the same.  He didn't go quite as slow as Steen, but he felt wonderful.  His whole body was relaxed and supple, and he really seemed to be enjoying himself.  As there were three of us milling about, I couldn't stick to a simple pattern like figure-eights or following the rail, but he responded very nicely to all my steering.

Over the course of our ride many people got on and off the Arab. Depending on who was riding, Bear and I would stand or work on backs, walk around, and sometimes trot.  A couple of our trotting sessions were a teeny bit erratic.  He never got going super fast, but he did give me a few head tosses that suggested he wasn't loving the work.  But at other times he would settle in nicely.  I am hoping consistent rides like this are the perfect thing to keep his physical and mental fitness progressing.

Tomorrow the guys get their feet trimmed (and they really need it!).  Those are always busy days, and we could get some monster storms here, so I'm not banking on a ride.  But as of right now, it would be fun to keep our streak of good rides going.

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