Monday, August 29, 2011

He's Big Bear

He's iron tough.  Sort of.  At other times he's a big softy.  And he hates walking on gravel.  Still, the minute I learned his name was Bear, this song popped into my head.  We couldn't have written a better song for him.

Today's ride didn't really look like any of the above rides.  After all our long rides, the Bear was tired.  And sluggish.  Still, I wanted to get him out for some really easy walking around.  And I think his back felt better after the ride than it did before the ride.

We went back to the middle pasture and mostly just walked around.  Robin rode Steen a little bit harder, but we kept it very easy.  After a good long warmup we moved into a nice easy trot for a few minutes.  Then we walked a little more and called it a day.  After some days off I'm hoping he'll be ready to go again. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Group Riding

We got out for another ride with Gay on Doc today.  Again the weather was perfect, and the horses were just about perfect, too.  In fact, steady Doc had more startles than Bear or Steen.  To be fair, he was leading at that time.  And really, they were quite minor.

Bear seemed to be really happy to go out and about again.  Unfortunately, he was also quite tired.  I could feel that he did not have the normal spring in his step.  And when I asked for a trot, he gave me a lot of head shaking and did not move very comfortably.

So when the ride got hilly, I held Bear back and just hung out with him for a couple minutes.  He wanted to follow the other horses into the steeper hills, but I knew he would have hated actually going up and down those hills.

Robin and Doc were having a lot of fun, and they decided to do some long trots on the open strip.  I elected to sit out of these, too.  This time Bear figured out that he was getting the better deal, and he never once thought about going after the others.  He did look at them a bit, though.

We spent a few minutes grazing and just hanging out, and then we all set off for home together.  After we untacked and did some grooming I massaged Bear's back again.  There is one spot on his right side that feels like a pretty good sized knot.  At first it bothered him, but then he seemed to enjoy me working it out.  The knot felt much smaller when I turned him out.

In the last 5 days we got about 5 hours of riding in.  So I think we're all due for some light, easy rides and off days in the near future.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Yesterday Bear and I celebrated our one year anniversary.  Like most things measured in years, it went by both fast and slow.  We also had our ups and our downs (figuratively and literally).  But it has been really fun getting to know him better and better.

When I brought him home a year ago he was a dumpy, out of shape, and fat, 15 year old gelding.  He would fall asleep at the drop of a hat, and while he didn't mind trotting out at faster paces, he just didn't feel very lively.  I was actually talking about how he might be my "starter" horse and I would only keep him for a year.

That started to change after a few months.  Getting some consistent exercise and all he could eat grass allowed him to bulk up, trim down somewhat, and really wake up.  Now a year later I can't imagine getting rid of him.  He is alert, fit, and looking about 4 or 5 years younger than he did when we got him.

Yesterday and today we took the guys back out to the second strip for some more walking and long trotting.  Things were quite good.  There were a few mini-startles, but all in all they are getting much more used to the area.  This morning we did get off them and let them get up close and personal with the pile of hay bales and big rusted machinery.  Hopefully that will prevent some future spooking.

Before we could get out and about we ran into Gay returning from her ride.  We planned on another group outing for Sunday, so that should be a good time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Strip Time

Wednesday was a hot day for us (about 90), but it was dry, and there was a strong west wind that helped keep us cool.  Robin and I tacked the guys up inside to keep them out of the sun and a little bit cooler, and then we set out for the second strip.  We had just gone that way on Sunday for the first time this year, but this would be the first time doing it without another horse.  Surprisingly, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be.

Steen started power-walking through the area between silos and tall corn like nothing was going to bother him.  That only lasted a handful of seconds before a stray stalk (or something) caught his attention.  Nothing bad happened at all, but it was funny to watch him go from big walking to paused and worried.

We made down the gravel drive with no real problems and then Steen had a few minor spooks at the machinery and hay bales that are piled at the entry to the second strip.  Bear responded with some spooks in place as well, but all in all, it was easy.

On the strip we enjoyed the breeze and the nice sunshine.  We walked up and down a few times.  Bear was very alert and almost a tad nervous, but with each passing minute he got calmer and happier.  I think he enjoyed being out.

Steen on the other hand got increasingly agitated.  Robin ended up working with him pretty hard.  I felt a little bad as Bear was being great.  We would just work on minute control issues with soft rein and leg cues.  We'd walk and trot up and down some hills, pausing to stand at the top and enjoy the views and breeze.  He was really enjoying all this.

Robin was definitely working hard to get Steen to calm down.  She was mostly effective, but it took a lot of long trotting sessions up and down the strip, and the ride ended up being an hour and forty minutes.  Not an outrageously long ride by any means, but possibly the longest ride I'd ever had.  And since Bear was being great, it didn't feel that long at all.

On the way back the guys again had some tiny little spooks going by the hay and machinery, but they were probably too tired to worry about anything all that much.  We got back and did a small amount of work on the first strip (we don't want them getting too excited to go home) and called it a ride.  Despite Robin and Steen's small difficulties, it really was a great ride.  We look forward to going out there more often.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I kind of let the blog go by the wayside in July and most of August.  I did ride some, but not a whole lot.  I won't bore you with the details, but I will sumarize.

Bear cut his leg, then we purchased some powder stuff that healed it up tremendously.  It now appears as if he only had a teeny scratch rather than a half inch gash with the beginnings of proud flesh.  The powder was awesome.

Then my sister in law came to visit.  I was busy at work and she had some good times on Bear.

He actually gave her a hard time in the beginning, but after that he was Dream Bear.
Then it got hot.  Really hot.  Bear and I both lost motivation.

Somewhere in there Bear and I did have some pretty awesome rides.  There was the one where we loped wonderfully in both directions, and one time when he had the wrong lead I gracefully steered him all the way back around in the other direction.  Even Robin said it looked impressive.

And then Bear had some butthead moments, too.  Those did not make me want to get back to blogging.  He was great on the ground, and he loved hanging out with me.  But under saddle he would get testy.  Nasty trots and lots of head tosses at the lope.  Even a buck.

This pic looks pretty good, but we were having some trouble.  And this was right before his little buck.
The buck was a little too far, and Bear knew it.  I hopped off and did some pretty intense groundwork.  Then I handed Bear over to his least favorite disciplinarian for a little more.  Robin made things really tough on him.

I made things tough on him, too, but this doesn't really illustrate that.
After that, we had good rides.  I started demanding a lot of him right out of the pasture.  It was almost like he felt bad for how he acted those few days, because he was very quiet and deferential.  We had some great rides, including some of the best trotting I have ever gotten out of Bear.

A wonderfully relaxing trot, and downhill, too!
Then yesterday we went out for our first trail ride of the season.  Robin and I went with our friend Gay.  Her horse Doc is a super, super mellow AQHA bay.  Nothing spooks him, and our guys were happy to follow him around the fields.  We spent quite a bit of time on an area we call the "second strip."  It is looking far nicer than it did last fall.  It has been completely mowed and includes wide, flat areas and a few hills, too.  We are hoping to spend a lot of time there this fall.

Cruising down the "second strip."
After the ride we relaxed and tried out another pair of fly-boots for Bear.  The green ones have worked great.  We lost one once, but then we were able to find it.  Still, we thought we should have some spares.

Super cute Bear with his new, black fly-boots.