Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stand and Lope

Those are Bear's two favorite gaits.  It is funny as I tend to forget about the second one when we haven't been practicing it.  Like in the late fall after I had taken a tumble and we weren't riding is spaces that were great for practicing the lope.

And though I have not been riding a ton lately, since late December I've been doing a good job of working the lope into every ride.  In the beginning there were some difficulties.  In fact, on a couple occasions Bear's reaction to picking up the lope would make you think it was his least favorite gait.  Not so.  Once he gets into a little bit of shape, he can't not lope.

Last Wednesday I went out for a solo-ride that I never blogged about.  It was great, there was not another person at the barn the whole time I was there, and I had a wonderful time.  But when Robin asked about the ride, I said it was not that great.  Really, it was just different.  Bear kept jumping into the lope.  I've experienced a number of different times where we will be trotting and then he will show me that he would prefer to lope by continuing to trot with his hind end but throw in a few teeny hops with the front end.  It is rather funny.  But on this ride he was jumping into the lope from the walk.  That was new.  It took me a few minutes to get him really listening to me again.

Of course, he still wanted to lope even after we worked on a lot of other things.  So after a few good rounds of transitions, we loped.  And we loped, and loped, and loped.  He wanted to stop a couple times, but I just gave him a little encouragement with my hips and kept on running.  He was loving it.  I think it was our most relaxed lope yet.  And by the time we stopped he just stood there blowing and licking his lips as if he was thinking, 'finally we got some good running in.'

Then we had a week off with some weird weather.  Now it is getting nicer and Robin and I are making a push to get into a riding habit again.  Still, I was a little tired and planned to have an easy ride.  Bear was in a super relaxed mood and paying very close attention to me, which was great.  I even thought he missed me.

But while we were working on things at the trot, again he was telling me he wanted to run.  I hadn't even decided on whether or not I wanted to work on that today.  We had enough to polish up at the walk and trot.  But he kept insisting.  So finally I just rocked my hips in an encouraging way when he was feeling goey, and he picked up the smoothest lope I've ever felt.  I thought last week was good. No.  This was the best.  I had never felt a transition like that before.  Robin saw it and was equally amazed.

After a little while of running we transitioned down to a walk and again Bear was super pleased with himself.  We worked on a few steering exercises at the walk and I was about to ask for a lope on the other lead when Steen and Robin started running.  I got out of the way to let them go, but then I slotted in a little behind them and we were able to both lope together.  We'd never done that indoors before.  It worked perfectly, even in our smaller arena.  And the horses were extremely relaxed.

It was really the perfect ride to get us going again.

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