Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sweaty Backs

That was the goal for this morning's ride.  Well, more the goal for Robin and Steen, Bear and I were fine getting whatever sweat pattern we happened to get.  But Robin wanted to push Steen a bit and see how the new saddle really fit him.

The trick was the morning was really cool, and we couldn't wait for the afternoon as there was a storm rolling in.  So we decided to head out to the barn early, and Robin and Steen were going to ride in the indoor arena as it tends to be a bit warmer and the enclosed environment makes it easier for Steen to focus.

As the arena is a little small for two fast moving horses, Bear and I opted to ride in the outdoor arena.  I think the enclosed space and lack of Steen also made it easier for Bear to pay attention to me.  His turns and stops were really good.  And when we started trotting in figure eights to keep warming up he was on a very loose rein and was quite responsive to my legs.

When we started loping he was definitely into it.  We went in a large circles to the left for awhile, and then tried it to the right.  They were probably the best circles to the right we've ever had.  And I have a new theory about this.  My right hip is outrageously tight, but I've been working hard on loosening it up with some single leg deadlifts and other exercises, and it has really been responding nicely.  As a result, my hips and legs were more comfortable going to the right.  It wasn't as good as going to the left, but it was pretty nice.

Of course once we stopped that little loping session Bear was keyed up and ready to keep running.  I guess those quiet rides at the end of the week and the cool temps in the morning had him back to feeling like a youngun.  But I really didn't want to give him his way.

So we trotted.  We did lots of tight circles moving out to big circles and vice-versa.  We did figure eights.  And we did a lot of transitions and backing.  It worked a little, but I think the real truth is Bear is in pretty great shape right now, so he could probably trot fast for many, many hours.

Once he calmed down at the walk I decided to have another go at the lope.  He was immediately excited and lept right into it.  We were back to going left, and there was one part of the arena that he kept cutting off and making the turn sharper than it needed to be.  So I just thought about that section and tried to keep my body relaxed through it and push him in a way that would allow him to nicely bend through the turn.  I'm not quite good enough with loping to use my legs while we're doing it, so I was really just thinking my way through this and hoping it translated through my body.  I think it did, because we had some great turns through the "bad" spot.

We worked on this for quite a few minutes, and Bear got the point where he was dropping the lope.  I'd smooch to him and he would pick it back up, but he was definitely getting tired.  Serves him right, too.  Maybe next time he'll think a bit more before getting all goey.

We ended our ride when Robin and Steen came out the the hitching post.  Both the guys were very calm and relaxed.  Steen definitely won the sweating contest.  The indoor heat and the fact that Robin did a whole lot more loping than I did had Steen dripping from his face.  Steen's prize was a shower.

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