Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Loping in the Pasture

When we pulled up to the barn I was excited to see that the strip had been cut.  I wished I had a camera with me during our last ride because the wind made the grasses look really cool against the horses' legs.  They were almost up their bellies in some places.

But the grass on the strip is going to be used for hay bales, so it is drying, and we couldn't ride there.  Instead we decided to ride in the middle pasture.  I rode in there twice late last spring with Steen, but neither Bear nor Robin had ridden there.

It was a very warm and sunny day with only a light breeze.  The guys were both a little phlegmatic as a result.  They did perk up some when we got on them.  Bear seemed totally fine to be riding in the pasture.  He was a little distracted by where all the other horses were and perhaps because I was riding him in "his" space, but he did start to closely listen to me and gave me the nicest trot early in the ride.

Due to his sometimes high, rough trot, I had decided to work on posting.  I've only done it a few times, so I'm really not that great at it, but Bear seemed fine with me steering him in a big circle while I tried to get my hips into the rhythm of his trot.  Sometimes I got to where it felt pretty good, other times it just felt awkward.  All in all, I think it was better than some of my other attempts, so I think I will periodically keep it up.

Since he was moving so nicely I asked him for a lope and he picked up the gentlest outdoor lope yet.  But then he got excited, and that brought on the rough trots.  My practice posting at the smooth trots did not prepare me for the big rough trots, so I just rode them out in a way that made things easiest for both of us.

When we were relaxed I'd ask for more loping, when the lope felt awesome for half a minute or so I would ask for the trot.  We kept this up for half an hour or maybe a bit more.  Most of the time we were trotting, but we got a lot of loping in.  He even did fairly well loping to the right.  He never likes picking it up and almost always give a big head toss right when I ask.  I try to ignore it and just ask again.  The second or third time I ask he picks it up like there is no problem.  It doesn't feel as nice as when he is going left, but we are both settling in.  Due to the size of the pasture, I was able to keep him in a circle that was as big or small as he wanted.  I think this helped with the relaxation a little bit.

Because of the weather and the long periods of moving fast, Bear got extremely sweaty and tired.  Towards the end of our loping he was getting a little upset about it and he'd drive me into a sharp corner and drop to the choppy trot.  I couldn't let him get away with that, so I just calmly moved him back out to a nice sized circle and kept him loping.  He totally gave up on trying to get out of anything, and we ended the work portion of our ride with a very nice lope and a very willing and responsive Bear.

I'm hoping our lope will get good in both directions over time.  We've seen Bear have a number of issues that he has overcome in the nine months that I've had him.  First he would not tolerate trotting or loping on a longe line, now it is no big deal.  Then his trot was almost always uncomfortable, and now he is completely capable of giving me an excellent trot.  When we started the lope it was super fast and almost impossible to get a right lead.  Now we're going in both directions at a more controlled pace, but things are not quite consistent.  I've got time, though.  If we were able to do things quickly all the time, then it would be harder to come up with things to work on. 

As a reward for his hard work, I gave Bear a nice shower afterwards.  He loved it.

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