Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stop Bugging Me

Today was hot, muggy, and buggy.  And Bear was not happy about it at all.  Thankfully he was happy to see me, and he came up to me in the pasture again.  He was probably hoping I would be able to get rid of the bugs, and when I couldn't really do that, he didn't seem so happy any more.

Out on the strip he was distracted.  He generally felt fine underneath me, but he was sluggish and not paying attention to me.  When I would ask for something more demanding, like yielding the hindquarters underneath me, he would do it quite well, but then he would go back to ignoring most of the leg and rein direction I would give him.

Thankfully his trot was pretty smooth.  I really feel like we've made some improvements there.  But since it is getting easier for both of us, it is also easier for him to trot well and tune out.  So I decided to see how he would go at the lope.  He picked it up right when I asked, and it was controlled and smooth, too.  But he dropped it in the first turn.  He picked it back up with some encouragement but again dropped it in the next turn.  We trotted around a bit and I set him up for another go, but he jigged around and did his best to refuse to go where I asked.  I was just building up the courage to keep asking him for the lope when Robin said he might be uncomfortable.  It can really be so hard to tell with him sometimes.

I decided not to push it, and instead we used this as an opportunity to see how he looked loping on a long line going both right and left.  If he looked sore and/or upset, we would stop immediately.  But that was looking increasingly unlikely as Bear was not cooperating even when I was trying to lead him through the gate and into the arena.

On the line he was moving nicely, but he wasn't happy to continue working.  I smooched him into the lope and he gave me some head tossing and then settled into a nice and relaxed pace.  At least the work got him paying close attention to me as he would stop on a dime when I asked.  He even stopped at one point when I was chatting with Robin and said the word "no."

Going to the right he looked equally as good.  It would take him just a little longer to pick up the lope in that direction, but he still looked comfortable in the gait.  I switched directions a few times and included some big stops, comes, and backs and he did them all very well.  The only issue we had was when I was trying to cool him down by having him walk in a circle around me to the right.  He really does hate going to the right.  When I was moving him faster it wasn't a huge problem, but at the walk he put up a big fight.  I held my ground and won, and he ended up going a lot faster than I wanted him to.

In the end he was soaked in sweat as the arena had no air movement in it.  I took him back out to the strip to continue cooling him off and he was very good.  He stopped when I stopped, yielded to all my turns, and even starting going around me to the right in a very willing and relaxed manner.  So maybe I got through to him a little bit.  And now I know that I can push him a bit more to trot, lope and pay attention to me when he isn't being all that good.  But I'll be curious to see if he comes to me in the pasture next time.

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