Monday, January 30, 2012

Sixty

Today is the second to last day of January and it was 60 degrees.  That is nearly twice what the average temps are.  Very odd.  But not unwelcome.  If we had a ton of snow, I would have been disappointed.  But we had just enough snow that the warm temps melted it all and turned the ground soft and mushy.  So even though it was gorgeous out, we still rode inside.

Bear and Steen were a little bit off when we pulled them out of the pasture.  There is a new horse out there.  Well, an old horse, really.  He used to live in this pasture a couple years ago, but I'm not sure he ever met Bear.  Anyways, he is a large (like 17 plus hand, large) quarter horse and is quite dominant.  So the guys were slightly agitated.  Steen came right up to us, as he does when he is uncomfortable in some way.

We tacked outside to enjoy the late afternoon sun, but then headed in for the ride.  It was cooling in the dusk anyways, so we didn't miss too much prime sun time.  In the arena Bear was good.  He is still loose and moving nicely, but he was a little distracted.

Despite this, we had a really great ride.  I don't know how to talk about all the things I worked on without it sounding like a list, so I'll just hit the highlights.  Fairly early in the ride I was going through some transitions and since he was backing so, so nicely, I decided to work on backing with energy and then push him right into a trot.  He got it on the first try, and each one got better and better. 

Once we were thoroughly warmed up we moved on to loping some nice circles with Robin and Steen doing the same.  Bear was super smooth and happy.  I think these past few times I have done enough running to curb his enthusiasm in asking me to lope, because today he was never offering the lope.  A few times he got lazy and dropped it, but it really took no effort on my part to keep him going.  Loping to the right he was a little tight, but he relaxed into it.  He was more inclined to drop it in this direction, but again, picking it up was no problem.

Robin then moved on to another exercise, but I kind of wanted to keep working with the lope.  So for the first time I would just ask for really short sections of loping.  Like 1/4 of the arena.  I'd get a few strides and then soft feel him down to the trot or walk.  He was great going left, so we switched it up and spent more time working to the right.  This was much harder on him.  Quite a few times he was resistant to picking it up, and he would give me a stiff neck and veer into the center of the arena.  This was not a big deal for me since I had my spurs on.  I just had to time things right and I could get him going.  We only did about 5 or 6 transitions to the right and I started to notice they were getting better.  Finally he gave me a really good one and then I let him rest.

This is something I am getting better at lately, recognizing a good effort and rewarding that with a brief rest and then moving onto something else.  I did this a few times today (with whirly-gigs, loping, transitions, and tight right circles at the trot), and I think it really contributed to our good ride.

The one funny moment of the ride was a fairly dramatic spook from Bear.  There were some kind of noises outside the arena.  Steen gave a big move and then Bear lept into a pretty lofty and energetic run.  It is funny how many things can go through your head when your horse starts running, but I wasn't very worried.  My seat felt stable and relaxed and I just kept the reins in my hands and held onto the horn.  He brought himself down to a stop and stood around a little sheepishly.  It was just another one of those things that is good for my horsemanship.

All week is supposed to be warm and dry.  So hopefully we can log quite a few rides.  Maybe it will even dry up enough that we can get out into the fields without worrying about tearing them up.

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