Saturday, March 10, 2012

Continual Improvement

Things just keep getting better.  Both with riding and with the weather.  I know, it means we're probably due for some backsliding pretty soon, but I'm not going to dwell on that.

Today Robin and I waited just a little while before heading out to the barn so we could enjoy the peak heat of the day, and it totally worked.  We groomed and tacked outside and used the hose to get rid of the heavy mud that was cemented on the guys' legs.

We forgot the camera inside, so I made Bear wait for me.  He looked so cute I couldn't resist getting a shot.
We had a tentative plan to ride on the strip for a while and get everyone warmed up before venturing over to the second strip.  But we were both having such a great ride and had plenty of things to work on that we decided to just spend the whole ride on the strip.  I think it was a good decision.

Robin has been working on leg yields for many, many weeks now.  I've done them a few times, but it wasn't until today that I really spent a lot of time on them.  It was a fun challenge for both of us.  For Bear it is mostly a physical challenge in that he's still getting his old-man-back in shape, and for me it is a challenge to sit upright, give strong cues, and keep my hips moving with the horse.

It really helps that Bear knows this stuff already.  Someone spent time teaching him leg yields, side passes, half passes and all that kind of stuff.  So even if I don't do it quite right, we are able to get somewhere.  That doesn't mean it always works, when Bear knows things he is also inclined to get distracted and not pay as much attention to me as he should. But these are all things that I (mostly) enjoy working through.

After a slow warm up and lots of leg yielding we moved into some nice loping.  We would lope away from the barn for a little bit and then transition down into a trot to come back up.  We repeated this oval many times and it was thoroughly wearing Bear out.  He probably would have been fine if he wasn't charging so hard in the lope.  The first few were decent, but then Robin and Steen were hanging out down at the other end, and I think he was trying to get to them as quick as possible so that he could stop.  Boy was he disappointed when I got him jogging and pointed him right back in the other direction.

This produced lots of huffing and puffing.  So we cooled down with some short serpentines and whirly-gigs. Both of these have been going really, really well lately.  It makes sense that they are both going well at the same time as they are really just moving the front end and the hind end (the former moving them together and the latter moving them independently).  I think most of it comes down to him feeling better physically.  He is still lighter and also getting back in shape.  And with the whirly-gigs specifically, I think having my spurs to cue more precisely helps him understand exactly how and when to shift his weight.

After all this he was getting really tired, so we spent a few minutes videoing and getting pics of Robin and Steen working on their lope transitions.  They both looked really good and relaxed.  I'm not sure if Bear noticed as I think he was grabbing a quick snooze.

I decided to finish the ride off with some more leg yields.  These were awful.  I think Bear was pissed because he thought the ride was over.  After a few trips up and down the strip with him hardly listening he finally got with me and gave me some very nice leg yields.  I only kept it up for a little bit longer and then rewarded him by actually ending the ride.

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