Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Rest

After two days off, Bear was happy to see me this morning.  He came over to say hi and followed me with more energy than he often does.  I was hoping this meant he was feeling better.  I let him loose to roll and wander around the indoor, but he wasn't really interested in doing much.  So I had to coerce him to move.  I hardly pushed him at all, but he took the excuse to run around, tossing his head back and forth and throwing in a few high, twisted kicks.  It was all very playful, and he even moved into a super relaxed lope while calmly watching me.  This was definitely a good sign.

He came right down and was happy to stand for grooming and tacking.  In the arena he was quiet and attentive. Despite his earlier playfulness, I still took a long time warming him up.  We walked around working on soft feels, backing and disengaging the hind and fore quarters.  After about 10 minutes of that I was ready to move on to faster things, but I had told myself I was going to give him 15 solid minutes of walking to warmup.  Then I remembered I wanted to introduce haunches in at the walk.  So for the next few laps when we would hit the straight-aways I would ask for collection and then use my outside leg to move his haunches off the track towards the middle of the arena but keep him moving forward.  We did this quite slowly, and he responded very well to the exercise.  I think it helped in getting him more mentally and physically limber.  He liked the challenge of thinking about what I was asking, and having to reach forward and in with his hind legs seemed really good for him.

After that thorough warm up we moved on to our other stuff.  The soft feel was coming much more regularly at the trot, and his downward transitions were wonderful.  I don't think I had a problem with any of them.  The only not quite so great part of the ride was his energy level.  He was moving good and paying attention, but he didn't have that light, sprightly feel he often gets.  But really, it wasn't that bad.

I did get him moving nicely in the lope, just to see if he was still feeling good.  And I was hoping it would wake him up more and get him a little excited.  Just like a few rides ago, Robin and I loped in the arena together.  This one was a little more involved than last time as Steen took a moment to get going and then once he was running he veered towards us.  So there we were loping just off of Steen's hind end.  Bear was getting excited running so close to Steen, but it was easy to keep him listening to me.  I briefly transitioned into a walk (which he did a great job with) and then got us loping again so that we had some good space between us.  We got quite a few laps in, and he felt great.

We took a break to cool down, but Bear was not all that excited with the loping so I didn't really need to bring him down.  We proceeded to run to the right just to keep things even.  Again we ran with Steen.  Bear was giving me a very steady and relaxed lope (much better than the last two times to the right), but he wasn't too keen on staying on the rail.  I didn't fight it much at first, but when Robin finished her round of loping I kept Bear going just a bit longer so that I could concentrate on getting a nice circle on the rail.  It totally worked.

I cooled him out with some simple walk, trot work with a few whirly-gigs thrown in there.  He was starting to get tired. I was still interested in working and was asking him for some roll backs and urging him to take off at the trot.  They were so so, but then he gave me a really good one.  I decided to end the ride on that note.  It is supposed to be 50 degrees tomorrow, and I don't want a tired or sore horse.

He was falling asleep while I untacked him and stretched out his hind legs.  And when I turned him out into the pasture he really wanted to hang around for some pets.  It was a great day at the barn.

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