Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big Hills and Soft Feels

We received a couple of the photos from our friend Jean.  They are definitely nice, but I somehow didn't think they would look so much like horse glamour shots. Maybe it is just that I haven't had a professional style shoot in many, many years. 

We do look pretty sharp in them.  It is extra funny to see the photos of Bear knowing they don't really match with his personality all that much.  He's not exactly the bend his head around me kind of guy.  I think he was eying all that lush grass.

We also got a nice one of all four of us.  Bear looks more his normal self in this one.  It is Steen who is putting on the glamour pose.  And Robin and I, of course, look great.

The last couple of days we've been out in the big pasture walking and trotting and loping around.  We've started each ride with some hillwalking to warm up and then a little backing circles around each other.  Yesterday Bear got pretty darn good at it.  We had done it once before over the weekend, and it took him awhile to catch on.  But after a few days off, he just started nailing them.  And today I don't think he had an off one at all.  He was backing faster and with less pressure on the bit.  It was really nice to feel, especially since a few days ago I started pushing things a little too hard and he got head tossy and resentful of the bit.

We'll have to get some pictures of the big pasture in one of the next few rides.  We've shown it from afar, but it has a great table top like flat area where we can do a lot of work.  Over the course of the rides Bear and I worked on short serpentines, flexes, soft feels, backing, moving the front end over (Robin really helped me soften my feel on this one yesterday, but we've got a ways to go), and getting some great trots and lopes.

The first time up on the flat section Bear and I trotted around the perimeter, and he was a little excited and lofty, but looking around and paying attention to me, too.  He ended up settling in very nicely, and then we started alternating long trots, lopes up the gradual slope (these were fast!) serpentines and bends.  It ended up being a great ride.  By the end he even felt looser and more willing to go down the steep hills.

Today was mostly more of the same.  The big difference was that we concentrated on loping some nice circles up on the table top.  Robin and Steen were doing some quiet feel work more or less in the same spot, so we had to lope around them.  It made for a really good challenge.  Initially Bear was giving me a very relaxed lope, but then when we'd get to Steen he would throw in a short burst of speed and a super hard turn back in his direction.  I was thankful for the big swell on the bear trap saddle more than a couple times today.

But we kept at it, and I was able to use my leg and seat and some firm rein cues when needed to steer him into a nice, gradual bend around Steen.  We have not been doing a ton of loping lately, nothing like early summer, but today I felt very solid.  We worked on this in both directions and it was quite fun.  With the bales out in the lot now I should really keep Bear's running up.  He has the tendency to park himself there all day long.  As Robin said today, "Every time we come out here Steen is off the bale and Bear is on it."  Actually he is doing his best to be 'in' the bale.  At least he'll be ready for a cold winter.

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