Monday, November 21, 2011

New Territory

Friday was sunny and warm. I think the temps even got into the 70s. But I was exhausted. This was the first week of a busy three weeks at work. Plus we had severe wind warnings. I used that as an excuse not to go ride.

Saturday was cloudy and not quite as warm, but it was great for riding. We weren't sure if we would be able to ride today or not, as we had a lot of things to get ready for, but we did manage to get out in the middle of the day.

Bear was on the bale and looking chunky. He saw me walking up and chose to get as many bites in as he could before I got there. But once I did get there, he moved back from the bale with the lightest touch on his chest. It was actually pretty neat.

We tacked up outside in the moderately warm south wind and then headed to the strip. I had no real goals or plans for this ride other than to just enjoy it. We worked on all our usual things and Bear was being pretty darn good. I rewarded him with lots of pats and time just sitting there resting so I could watch Robin and Steen. They were having an OK ride, for the mot part. Robin planned on using the snaffle before we got out there, but once she saw the hackamore in the tack locker she couldn't resist. Steen was again a little stiff, but it was neat to see them work through things.

Bear and I went through some serpentines, circles with stops, figure eights and lots of backing. He was good for all of it and I was actually getting a little bit bored. It was about this time that Robin and Steen's ride started getting a little more interesting. Robin ended up switching back to the snaffle because she knows it much better and felt more sure of how to ask for things. Unfortunately, this didn't actually help them much.

So Bear and I hung out at the far west end of the strip. Occasionally we would walk or trot down the fenceline and work on our soft feels (he was good), but mostly we just rested, did a little backing, and practiced disengaging the hind end off just my leg. We've always had some trouble with this. He wants to move more than just the hind end, so sometimes I get frustrated blocking all his wrong attempts. Today I kind of let him go with it just to see what would happen. I never released the cue until he did just what I was asking.

What we got was quite a bit of fidgeting. But it was good natured. He was really trying, and a few times I thought he was side passing. After some more resting and backing and disengaging, we found ourselves out in the wind. I decided to ask him to side pass over to the more desirable spot that was out of the wind. He gave me about seven or eight perfect sideways steps to the right. I had only given him a light cue with the supporting rein and my outside leg, and he moved like he had been side passing his whole life. I suppose is is a better maneuver than getting just a hind end disengage, which I can really get anytime I want to if I incorporate a cue with my reins. So for the time being we'll keep doing some side passing.

Because Robin's ride kept getting more and more interesting, we actually ended up riding for quite a while. Since I wasn't sure if I would get to ride at all, it felt like a really great bonus ride. Bear was really good, and we got to explore some new territory.

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