Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Birthday Ride

This time mine.  Yesterday I turned 31.  Things are now slowing down at work and I was able to sneak away early in the afternoon.  It was a little cold and damp out, so we had some tea before heading out to the barn.  And we also got our first video from Giddy Up Flix.  It is basically like Netflix, but with all horse videos.  As far as I can tell, they have pretty much every horse related DVD out there.

The first one we got was the beginning of Buck's Making of a Bridle Horse series. We watched a few minutes of that before heading out.  It was definitely interesting to see examples of some of the stuff we've been working on.  Mostly things with collection, transitions, and getting a visual on what a horse looks like when he tries some of these new things.  Buck rides a few different horses in the video, but he spends most of the time on a young mare that has 10 rides on her.  She is interesting to watch.

Out at the barn my goal was to keep working on the soft feel and holding it through the transitions up to the trot and from trot to walk and trot to stop.  I think I remembered to do it almost every time.

I think.  I was distracted by one of my birthday gifts.  Robin got me a nice set of spurs with some plain leather spur straps.  I'll have to get some pictures, soon.  Bear can be a rather sluggish horse at times.  We have rides where he is really with me and thinking all the time, and then there are lots of rides where he just isn't paying attention.  I always wonder about his past.  He is a quiet and gentle horse, and someone has put a lot of time on him, but it might not have always been quality time as he does look for release in places other than me.

So yesday I tried the spurs. And I must say, I was a little gun shy with them.  Lately I've been getting better at using my legs for everything I do, but with some metal sticking out from my heels I didn't feel so confident.  We worked through some things slowly so we could both get used to them.  I think Bear was better with them than I was.  He was great at disengaging his hind end, and he really only gave me a couple of surprised responses when I gently used the spurs.  But I never totally settled in, so I only used them for the first half of the ride.  I will keep practicing, though.  As being effective with them will definitely require practice.

The second half of the ride was possibly worse, though.  I'm sure Bear was responding to my little insecurities and adding that to the fact that he seems to hate the indoor arena.  Oh, and just to play with fit and make sure things were OK, Robin and I changed saddles.  She has a really nice saddle, but it isn't MY saddle.  As a result, I probably wasn't as smooth and relaxed in the seat department either.

 A little blurry. I'm sure that didn't help with my balance, either.
So by the time we started trotting around I had a very energetic, yet stiff, horse.  It was really hard for me to get him to stay on the rail and relax.  We worked on it for a really long time, alternating trotting along the rail and in small circles to encourage some lateral bending.  Eventually we made some progress, but not much.

It wasn't the best ride for my birthday, but it wasn't bad either.  And it was the kind of ride that has left me thinking about all the little things I was doing.  Hopefully I'll be able to make the next one better.

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