Monday, December 12, 2011

A Tired Bear

Today was warm and Robin was swamped with work, so I went out to the barn on my own.  Bear was doing his best to bury his head in the bale and get all the good stuff.  He must have been at it for a while, because he pooped four times today.  Lately he has been pooping less, which I think is good, but today was just like the old days.

The place was quiet initially.  Bear was clean, and I groomed and tacked while he half dozed.  Yesterday I just hopped on without any groundwork, so today I made sure to go through a few things.  This is when I noticed how sluggish he was.  He was paying attention to me, but it was hard to get any life in him.  Something about the way he was moving left me inclined to not really get after him. 

So I just climbed on instead.  We warmed up with some walking and then proceeded to spend almost the whole ride trotting.  This is when I became sure he was fatigued.  He was listening to me and all my cues, but his body had no spring in it.  Still, I knew I wasn't going to hurt him by keeping him moving at a trot.  And it was an easy trot.

While moving around the arena I mostly let him trot the pace he wanted to.  Occasionally I would open up my legs and get a little more life into him.  He responded to that.  Then I would be nice and ask for a soft feel and let him go back to a slower trot. 

Since he was so tired, he was also very willing to slow down or stop at anytime.  I took that opportunity to work on transitions.  Mostly trot to walk transitions.  I'm trying really hard to get it so that I can ask for a soft feel and then change the motion of my hips from 'trot' to 'walk.'  I think it has been three rides that we've been working on this.  The first one was surprisingly good.  Then it got bad towards the end.  The second ride was just not that great at any time.  Today we had a few bad ones and a few good ones.  I do think they are almost all my fault.  I'm struggling with finding the difference in going from a trot rhythm to a walk rhythm.  And it is hard for me to not get frustrated since I know we have done it before, and also when I don't quite get it right, Bear is inclined to trot faster.  That is definitely not ideal.

Today we had an excellent trot to walk transition and I decided to praise him lavishly and let him rest.  He seemed pleased with himself; I patted his head and he licked his lips.  I decided to make that the end of our ride.  I walked him around just another minute, but didn't demand anything more of him.

While I was untacking he didn't move a single foot.  This is not totally uncommon.  He does like post ride naps.  But his head was so low, and then when I went to grab his supplement he still didn't budge.  Usually he creeps forward and tries to get his face closer to the feed.  Not today.  He stood stock still and just moved his head a little forward.

I'll definitely give him some rest tomorrow.  Maybe even two days.

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