Sunday, December 18, 2011

Title Generator?

I need one.  Titles seem to be the most difficult thing for me. Even when I have bad rides, it is harder to come up with a title than anything else.

Today was a great day.  The barn was super crowded because Duke was there to trim feet and we were having a little end of the year potluck.  Quite a few people beat us there, so we just went with what has become our normal farrier day routine: quickly tack up and get a ride in before it is our turn.

It was forcasted to be even warmer today than yesterday.  And though it was earlier in the day, the sun was already heating us up.  Robin and I both rode in less clothes than usual.  Since we didn't know how long we would ride, we stayed close and just rode on the strip.  Except for one other boarder who was doing a few exercises with her cute Icelandic Pony, we had the area to ourselves.

I was curious to see how Bear would be, as we had a less than great ride yesterday. I did go armed with a plan.  This morning we watched Buck's second video on making a bridle horse.  This one focused on the hackamore, but it also had some excellent pointers for just riding.  One thing that I was again surprised by (and I've known this for a while, but that doesn't mean it is easy to do) was how much Buck goes from one exercise to another.  He doesn't dwell very long.  He works on something until he gets a small change and then, boom, onto something else. Of course this really forces the horse to think, but for a relative newbie like myself, it is extremely taxing on the rider, too.

And as such, it is easy to not follow through on.  The first 20+ minutes of our ride were very mediocre.  I was trying my best to be relaxed, soft, and keep things varied.  Sometimes I was successful, but often I wasn't, and then I would find myself doing the same exercise over and over again.  This doesn't help Bear at all.  Generally, he really knows his stuff, so he can get bored.  He doesn't care if I need to practice something, even if I'm being nice about it.  He just checks out a little more.

So when my frustration was building a little, I took a break.  I just sat there and snapped a few photos of Robin and periodically gave Bear some pets.  Robin was having an excellent day in the hackamore.  The video this morning also helped her out quite a bit.  She's got some more shots on her blog, but I got this nice one of them backing up after a pretty great stop.



Then Bear and I got back to work.  And we were doing much, much better.  We worked on some relaxed trotting and getting a soft feel, backing, backing in circles, and serpentines.  I have been getting better at these since I figured out that Bear's head needs to be elevated a little bit so his poll is just above his withers.  When I get that, I can feel that his shoulders are opened up and he is much more balanced.  But I have always struggled to keep him moving through the serpentine nicely.  I asked Robin for some help, and she pointed out that I wasn't bending him quite enough.  I probably let that slip when I started focusing on head height.  So she watched us do quite a few serpentines and pointed out the good ones and the bad ones (like when he would stop walking forward and just turn in funky circles), and also called out when I should give him relief or demand more.

It was a really big help.  Both Bear and I were in higher spirits.  Robin had such a great ride that she ended early, but I wanted to keep going.

I was worried for a second that Bear would be pissed that they were leaving, but he just watched them walk away and got right back to work with me.  I kept our momentum going and was very good about stopping after I got a change.  He gave me some wonderful collection at the trot.


We backed in circles quite a bit.  It was fun to see Buck back his horse in a zig-zag.  I often worry about backing too much, but as long as you give a timely release, it shouldn't be a big deal.



All in all we ended up having a really fun ride.  He was happy with the challenges, so I'll have to work extra hard to keep things more exciting for both of us.



After the ride he was super relaxed.  I did a little more grooming and some stretches while he caught a quick snooze.  Then it was time for the trim.  He is always great if I am able to get a ride in before hand (he's just good if I don't get the ride in).  Duke said his feet are looking great, and that is always nice to hear.

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