Monday, May 23, 2011

Left Leaning

No, Bear is not a liberal socialist.  He is a 'Merican Quarter Horse, I'm not sure you can get much more conservative than that.  The thing is, he just hates going right.  It is fine at the walk and trot, but I cannot get him to pick up a nice, relaxed lope with a right lead.  Sometimes he won't pick it up at all.  When he does pick it up he is very stiff and antsy and just plain uncomfortable.  I'm hoping he is just generally more comfortable going left and that this something he hasn't worked on in many years.  We'll have to see how he progresses in time.

Today we mostly had a great ride.  Bear was happy to be hanging out with me and was willing to follow whatever silly pattern I put him through or just stand quietly.  I know I've said it a bunch recently, but his trot just keeps getting more relaxed.  I think it is all the time we've been putting into it.  And the good news is that relaxation is starting to carry over to the lope.

After a nice warm up I asked for the lope (going left, as I know that is the easier way to start) and he picked up a nice, smooth moving lope.  I was able to give him a looser rein and he was really pacing himself nicely.  He didn't drop it once today.  In the past he has always dropped it at least once.  Today I could sometimes sense that he wanted to drop it, but instead he would just slow down into a more relaxed pace.  It was wonderful.

Trying to go right, not so wonderful.  He could tell it was coming and he was already nervous about it.  I tried to stay relaxed and then just cued him for a right lead coming out of a turn.  He lept sideways to the left as if something huge spooked him.  I calmed him down with some easy trotting and tried a few more times.  No go.

As I didn't want to make him mad or more uncomfortable, we just went back to going left.  After the aborted attempts to the right, his first lope to the left was the best we've ever had.  I think he was thanking me for getting back to that direction.  It was so funny.  It felt so nice to both of us that I had him on a really loose rein and was more or less following him through the corners.  He cut one really tight and I didn't think much of it as he's quite agile, but his inside rear foot gave a big slip.  Thankfully he collected himself and stayed upright.  That was my first slip at the lope.  It isn't a great feeling, but like sliding your tires through a dusty corner on a mountainbike,  I suppose it is something that I will get used to.

Robin, meanwhile, had an interesting ride on Steen.  She was trying out her new "spare" saddle that we got on ebay.  Everything about the saddle seemed great, but the ride had quite a few hiccups.  To start with the stirrups would not go long enough to fit her legs (and she's not even that tall).  So Robin and I spent some time on the strip pulling out the cordura stirrups in her old saddle and coaxing them into the new saddle.  It was easier than I thought, but it still took a little while.  In the end, she has mixed feelings about the saddle.  It seemed quite good for her, but not as good for Steen as he had a dry spot on the left side of his wither.  That guy is hard to fit a saddle to.

Bear was tired after our ride.
While the loping was really quite excellent today, the best yet really, I think the most exciting part of the day was when Bear walked up the hill to meet me at the gate into the pasture.  Yesterday he came a little ways, but today he really came to me.  And other than trying to go right at the lope, he was really excellent during the ride.  I just feel like he is constantly looking to me for direction and leadership.  It feels great.

Really tired.

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