Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Practicing the Lope

Bear continues to defer to me in almost every way.  It is wonderful.  After almost a week of really solid work he has not given me a hard time at all.

So today we kept doing what we've been doing out on the strip.  He was quiet and a little lethargic in the beginning.  I still took my time getting him warmed up, but then we moved into some long trots.  He was very inclined to keep the pace smooth and relaxed, and he was very attentive to all my cues. 

I didn't lope him on Monday as we were both tired, but I was hoping we could get some nice loping in today.  I started walking and trotting him in a nice sized oval around the cones and then asked him for a lope.  All I got was some jackhammer trots.  I calmed him down and then asked again.  He gave it to me and it felt like we were flying around the turns.  Bear is a short, stocky horse, so he can really lean into those turns.  I've never felt so close to the ground on Bear before.

It was kind of fun, and a little unnerving. But he was also inclined to drop the lope just as we were getting out of the turn, and then I would get more jackhammer trots.  It would take me a little while to get him back into the lope, but it never lasted. 

Robin was sitting atop Steen and watching this whole process.  I trotted Bear over to them and asked what her assessment was.  She thought that Bear was not used to the lope and so it was a little difficult for him to carry it through the turns.  She also pointed out that I was not used to the lope and that meant it was difficult for me to ride it in a smooth and relaxed manner.  Makes sense.

So we went back to loping some long straightaways and then walking and trotting back down the strip.  Bear and I have been venturing further down the strip lately, so I make the straightaways pretty long.  He would pick the lope up very nicely every time.  The first couple days we loped I had him fairly collected so that I could stay nice and balanced and his speed wouldn't vary too much, but today he was really relaxing into it (I probably was, too) and once we got started we continued on a rather loose rein.  We kept this up for a little while and then I noticed Bear was getting pretty tired, so we called it quits at the lope.

To cool down we did a little simple mirroring exercise with Robin and Steen where we trotted next to one another up the middle of the strip and then turned to the outside at a designated cone and then came back together at the bottom of the strip.  Steen trots slow and Bear trots fast, so we both had to work to keep them together.  It mostly worked out from a timing perspective, but if anyone was judging us we wouldn't have done well as Bear was constantly dropping the trot (I never make him trot quite that slow, and plus he was tired).  So we'll have to try that again in the future.

We finished the day up with a couple trips almost down to the end of the strip.  Neither one of the guys was nervous about this, so hopefully that is a sign of what we can expect when we start taking them out and about again.

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