Thursday, March 29, 2012

Frustrations in the Saddle

Bear and I are still working through our little trot issue.  Both Tuesday and Wednesday we spent considerable time working in the gait, and while we made some progress each day, it wasn't much.

But I should be happy with where things are at.  I was telling Robin how I don't remember such issues last summer and fall with the trot.  She pointed out that I'm asking an awful lot more of him now.  Also, when we used to trot I would really hold him in quite a bit.  So in reality, we are getting places.

Tuesday we had a tough ride on the strip.  At the trot we had lots of bends and zig zags and a few one-rein stops.  Bear has gotten good at not picking the lope up, though.  I can see him think about it and then stop.  Or he will pop into it but before I can react he is back to the trot.  Unfortunately it is a very rough trot he gets back to.

Action shots from the other week.  Thankfully when we do run it is fun and collected.
Wednesday we started things out really easily by walking out to the second strip.  We walked up and down the strip and over into a section we call the 'three hills.'  The guys were great.  There were tractors and piles of brush and birds squawking all over the place, but they just took it all in and kept walking.

When we got back to the second strip we decided to do a little trotting.  This is where things were not so good.  I bounced my way down the strip and managed to get things under control at the far end by getting back to some tight and controlled figure-eights.  I was doing a good job of not getting mad at Bear.  Sometimes I truly think all this is the fault of my own riding, and when I can be relaxed and give steady cues things do tend to improve.

We then walked part way up the strip and turned around to trot back.  This is where I know I screwed up.  Things started out so nice and easy.  We trotted over a small hill on a loose rein, and the whole time I was thinking I should stop him now and praise him.  But it felt so good that I just kept going.  Big mistake.  Things deteriorated quite quickly.

The one good thing about all this is I'm getting quite comfortable moving in all gaits, doing tight circles, sitting deep when Bear hops into a lope out of a turn, slams on the brakes and goes the other way.  In some ways it is almost fun, but it is nowhere near my goals.

So I'm not exactly sure how I will proceed with working on the trot.  I know in the future if I get a good, relaxed trot with an open road in front of us, I'll let Bear rest and show him I appreciated that.  But I might try the old school approach, too, and just let him run.  That is what a cowboy would do, right.  "You want to run? Fine, we've got to cover many miles to get to the herd, go ahead and run if you want.  But I wouldn't recommend it."

We'll see.  It is all one, big, fun experiment for me.

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