Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Design!

I've now been riding horses for a few years, and it was almost two years ago that I jumped into horse ownership.  So it was definitely time for a blog redesign and a slightly new title.

I mentioned a few weeks ago our photo shoot with the Dreschers.  Once we received all the great shots I couldn't help but think of how to incorporate them into a new blog design.  Of course, there is no way I could have done it without my own personal in-house web designer. She made it all come together just right.

Riding has definitely been a little slow these last few weeks.  First I had my fall.  That was nearly four weeks ago, and my wrist is still healing.  The swelling is way down and my mobility is up, but it still gets sore if I use it too much.  That was followed by a visit from the equine dentist and a weekend out of town.  I got back excited to get some riding done in the nice 70 degree weather, but then I got sick.

All of that is behind us now, and yesterday afternoon was cool and breezy and perfect for riding.  Bear was somewhat happy to see me.  I think he was more excited to be on the bale, though.  And I could tell he had not received any supplements in about 5 days, because today he pooped 4 times on the ride.  That was kind of the norm for a while, but since we've had him on the supplement he has only been pooping once a ride. Even if I'm not riding a bunch I'll have to not let that many days go by without giving it to him.

The ride, though, was good.  Good for me, at least.  Without meaning to be, I was actually a little hard on Bear.  Not physically, but I was asking a lot of him, and I think he was a little surprised by it all.  We started with refining our groundwork.  He's gotten really good at following a feel off the mecate, but today I started adding in some hindend disengages immediately followed by disengages on the forehand.  I've done some combination of those before, but never in this way.  He was not super happy about them initially, but once he got a few good ones in he had that 'I'm kinda proud of myself' look on his face.

I hopped on and we continued to work on combining the soft feel with backing and we are getting much better at it.  Today Robin looked over at us and was surprised to see the collection and hind end engagement of Bear's backs. Our serpentines and leg yielding were all quite good, and Bear's trot was unbelievably relaxed.  At times I had to make sure he wasn't walking.  I've never felt that from Bear before.

Then we would take breaks from trotting great circles and figure-eights (he was very well balanced almost the entire time) to work on another exercise we got from the Buck clinic.  I started this one a few rides ago.  It is tough, but we've been getting better each time.  It involves walking out, either straight or in a good sized circle, then halting the horse's front end by bending them into a hind end disengage.  The horse steps under and over for a few steps and then you bring in your opposite leg and rein to engage the forequarters.  At this point the hind end stops and the front swings over.  Ideally you finish off walking out in the same direction that you started.  When done well, it is a very quiet and extremely pretty maneuver. When done poorly it just looks like a sloppy circle.

And we were often looking a little bad.  But each day I've worked on it we've gotten a few more decent ones.  Today there were at least four that felt great.  Right now I kind of think all four of those were done in the same direction.  Next time I'll have to pay attention to see how balanced we are on each side.

It is a challenging exercise for both Bear and me, and shortly after working on it I think Bear was getting a little fed up and frustrated from all the minute, demanding stuff I was asking of him.  He got grouchy.  I probably should have started working on something a little less demanding at this point, but I kind of kept doing all the other things I had been doing on the ride.  Bear gave me a couple of big head tosses to show his lack of appreciation for my requests, but I just kept riding him through it.  He did get over it.  I think he is a little surprised that his opinion doesn't matter like it used to.  When I hopped off him his head was way down and he looked exhausted, even though the most physically demanding thing we did was about fifteen minutes of jogging.  At the hitching post he could barely keep his eyes open. 

So I think the ride had a pretty big impact on him.  I'll be curious to see he feels about everything this weekend.

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