Thursday, January 12, 2012

Catching Up

Well it feels like we are well into the new year, and I haven't blogged yet.  It felt like I made it through the holidays and was ready to get back to my normal routine, but I forgot that we were having Robin's brother Jesse and his wife Susie visit for a long weekend.  We had a fantastic time with them, but I didn't get a whole lot of riding or blogging done.

When they planned their trip a couple months ago, we had no idea what would happen as far as weather.  I kind of hoped we could all go skiing, but in many ways the 50 degree days we had were better.  We got in some runs and bike rides and a great afternoon at the barn.

It was so warm we all hung out at the hitching post outside for some grooming, then we rode in the outdoor arena.  Robin and I warmed the guys up a little, and then we handed them over.  Jesse climbed on Steen and Susie rode Bear.  At first he didn't want to do much, but once they got moving both Susie and Bear did great.  Bear is really starting to lose his reputation of being a bad ride for visitors.  He was listening to her leg and rein cues, walking nice circles, stopping, and even gave her a pretty nice trot.

Jesse was having a little more trouble on Steen, but he stuck it out and made some progress.  After that he hopped on Bear for a little bit and they enjoy a little trotting around the arena.

When they were done I took Bear into the arena for a little loping practice.  It was warm and he was a little hot and tired, but he wasn't sluggish at all.  It also took no effort to keep him going.  He just tipped right over into a super smooth lope in both directions.  It was by far our best indoor lope yet, going both right and left I had no trouble keeping him on the rail.  I think he is getting more and more fit, and we're also getting more comfortable loping in that space.

The visit did make things a little busy for us, but we were also able to sneak out for a mid-week ride before the current storm storm rolled in.  It was a lovely afternoon and we planned on riding on the strip.  Unfortunately, Steen had a cut on his leg.  He actually had it when Jesse and Susie were here, but it really didn't look too bad.  Once we were able to take time and clean it all out and explore the area, we could see it was a little bit worse than we thought.  Thankfully he is not favoring it at all, but Robin thought it would be best to just clean it, wrap it, and not ride him.  Probably smart.

While she took care of her patient I took Bear out to the strip for a short ride.  In our recent time off he has lost some soft feel, particularly at the trot.  So we did a lot of trotting with me trying to remind him how to respond to the bit.  I guess he got better, but I feel like we'll have to get back to practicing this more and more.

He was soft to the bit while we were backing, and he was especially good at backing circles.  One of the bummers about the ride was that a huge portion of the strip was a little torn up by a sod cutter.  And it is the exact spot that is perfect for loping.  So I didn't really think we would run, but then I decided to run him out and back on the strip.  It was the first time we'd done it since last spring.  We started by going away from the barn, and he picked up a beautiful lope and had no trouble holding it on the slight downhill.  We dropped to a trot and then came back up.  Going slightly uphill and toward the barn Bear was inclined to really dig in.  He felt solid and I wasn't worried about him, but I do like him to have a softer feel while we're loping.  So we'll have to practice this some more.  I think it will take some time, and some sessions where we really get a lot of running in.  This ride I only went out and back a few times.

And then we called it a night.  Now here it is almost half way through January and I've only managed a couple short rides.  But I'm not worried, it is already way more riding than I did last January.

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