Saturday, March 17, 2012

Slow and Steady

I don't mean that we didn't go fast at all, but rather I focused on keeping things more systematic.  So that if anything did start to not go so well, I could easily slow down and work out the problems.  After thinking more about my last ride, reading some things, and talking to Robin (it is so nice to always have someone to offer suggestions), I figured Bear's uppity-ness most likely stems from some anxiety and a lack of understanding what the goal is.  Things appeared random to him; I would just come out of nowhere and ask for something that he wasn't ready for.  Our previous rides had been going so well that I thought such random movement through gaits and around the field would be a good thing to work on.

I suppose it will be, but it might have been too much too soon.  So I scaled back and worked on things we could both understand.  Both Friday and Saturday I pretty much did the same kind of ride.  I warmed up by walking around, checking in on the soft feel, leg yielding, and bending.  Then we moved into the Martin Black stopping exercise.  First at the trot, and then at the lope.

For each turn-around, in order to keep things slower and work on one of our weak points, I asked Bear to pivot around on his hind end.  We saw a lot of improvement in this over these two rides.  I wish I could say the same for the loping.  It wasn't bad, but he was just tight or something, slow to pick it up and slow to come out of it.  I do think we're both feeling the effects of long rides.  Most days it has been in, or near, the 80s.  The guys haven't started fully shedding yet, and we have managed to ride 7 out of the last 8 days.  More consistency in a short period than I've ever had.

But while it wasn't great, things were good.  And they did get better.  After some improvement we would walk around for a minute and then work on loping down the strip along the fenceline and walking or trotting back.  I wasn't too concerned with how the lope itself went, my main goal was to get him to pick up a right lead each time.  I don't think I'm as good at asking for it, and it certainly isn't his favorite lead, so we had some funny moments of zig zagging along, bouncing in and out of the lope.

Again, though, we made progress.  He started picking it up faster and staying relaxed.  I think this will all be things I need to stay aware of.  Sometimes I can push him hard (or what I think is hard), but even when things are going well I should think about returning to the things we know to continue refining them.  In many ways we can do all the basic things right now, but in reality, we can't do them all very well.

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