Monday, October 24, 2011

Out of Step

We continue to have gorgeous weather this month, and yesterday was no exception.  Robin and I even went to the barn earlier than we originally planned, and we were still very warm.  As were the horses.  I really think they are wondering what the deal is.  Of course, I have seen numerous reports that it is supposed to be a colder than average winter, so I'm sure they'll get to use all that downy, soft fur eventually.

We rode on the strip again, even though some of the prime riding real estate was taken up by a tractor with tires taller than me.  We walked the horses around it when we got out there, but they couldn't care less.  To them it was like worrying about a building; it just wasn't a big deal.

I had planned on a ride similar to Friday's, and after some warming up we started trotting in big long ovals with a few tight circles thrown in at the ends to focus on bending and balance.  For the most part this was good.  When trotting down the strip Bear has a tendency to want to go back, but he was pretty good at listening to my legs and staying straight.  Not great, but pretty good.

We took a break to work on some figure-eights and other patterns using almost all leg cues.  This was the highlight of the ride for me.  Bear was smooth, walking fast, and very, very attentive.

Unfortunately this didn't carry over into the other minute things we were working on like disengages and backs.  In fact, his backing was awful.  Robin pointed out that I wasn't getting a great soft feel from him at the back.  It then dawned on me that I was never asking for that.  I've always been focused on the feet and the feel in the reins, which was usually soft-ish.  But if he isn't breaking at the poll and giving to me, then his steps are short and pretty half-hearted.  When I started waiting for the soft feel, his steps got bigger and more powerful.

It always amazes me how much there is to remember about this stuff.  And I feel a little bad about yesterday, because at times, I was a little more harsh on Bear than I should have been.  Part of it was due to his sluggish responses (easy to blame the horse, right?), but the big thing was my own impatience.  I've had some ear clogage issues lately, and halfway through the ride it happened again.  I probably should have stopped the ride early, but I kept riding through the discomfort.  Bear was still in a great mood at the end of the ride, so I don't think I bothered him too much.  We are continuing to understand one each others moods and habits, and it is a really great feeling.

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