Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Guess I Was Wrong

A few posts ago I was claiming that it will always be windy in the spring, be it cold or warm.  Today, though, was a perfect 70 degrees with sun and only the lightest breeze out of the southwest.  It could not have gotten any better.

And both our guys were good, too.  Bear just keeps looking better and better.  I can also tell he is feeling good, too, as he is moving very nicely.  It makes me feel good to see how well he is doing.  Hopefully it means we can keep working together for quite a while.

The fun part of the ride was all the loping we did.  Both Robin and I did quite a bit.  After some leg yields and whirly-gigs to warm up, we just started loping up and down the strip.  He was really good.  The warm day certainly helped keep his lope easy, but at the same time, he really wanted to run.  So we ran.

I didn't want semi-structured running to be the only thing we did, so we relaxed for a minute and then Robin suggested the routine.  We both felt good about the pattern, and after doing it once we decided to add a little loping to it.  So we did keep the guys running a little bit more.  In the past we've done the routine entirely at the trot, but today we added loping to the long sections.  It didn't go great, but it certainly wasn't a disaster.  We both had our troubles.  Bear was slow to pick up the lope for me, but he came down to the trot a little faster than Steen, although really, neither of them were coming down all that well.  But it did mean that we were able to keep them lined up quite nicely.

We did the routine three times with the loping sections, and there was moderate improvement over time.  They never were great coming out of the lope, but things got more relaxed and Bear was picking the lope up with great ease each time.  We'll definitely keep this up and build on it as we get better.  There are certainly other places in the routine to keep them running.

This whole time I was surprised at how good Bear felt beneath me, so we kind of kept loping.  We walked and trotted for a minute to get our breath back, and then we went into the figure-eight loping with a simple lead change in the middle that Robin has been doing.  We did something like this in the indoor arena a few weeks ago, but that was the only time.

We certainly have some work to do on this exercise.  I was still having a hard time bringing him down to the trot (so really, we need to work on downward transitions in general), and his circles and pacing were erratic.  But true to form, once he figured out exactly what we were working on, he was ready for it.  More ready for it than me as he was always ready to lope with the right lead, even before I'd ask him.  In the end we got a very quick and smooth transition and I ended the exercise there.

We cooled down with lots of walking up and down the strip (truth be told, we included more loping in there, too.  Bear's idea!), and even ventured down the drainage we used yesterday.  Bear was attentive and only the slightest bit antsy without Steen, but he was willing to go.

All in all, it was a great ride.  Oh, and an update on the game.  Bear came to me after maybe 2 or 3 minutes of work.  I only had to push him a little hard once, and after that, you could almost see him thinking about how the rules worked.  He came up to me with quite a bit of energy and deference.  I think this new strategy is helping our dynamic on the rides.  He has been so soft and attentive lately.  For the most part.

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