Thursday, March 15, 2012

Too Much?

We were about 10 minutes into yesterday's ride and I was wondering if I had been doing too much lately.  It was only about a week and a half ago that I started riding quite consistently again.  Those rides were on the easy and short side, and Bear seemed to respond well to them.

Then this past week has been in the 70s everyday.  It is spring break and I've got nothing going on at work, so it has been no trouble to get out to the barn for some long rides.  All four of us have been loving it.  So much so that Bear just could not get settled today.  All he wanted to do was run.  I've seen this side of Bear before, but this was by far the most energetic he has been.  He was adamant about not coming out of the lope when I would ask him for a trot or walk.  At times I had more pressure on the reins than I'm comfortable with (which in reality is probably not all that much pressure), and he was more than happy to keep running.  A few times he threw in some hops and quick lead changes.  Or something like that.  I couldn't tell; I've never felt a horse move that way.  But it is what they looked like to Robin.

Our last rides have been physically and mentally tough, but I think Bear has just been adapting to them really fast.  Or maybe he was sick of it all and just didn't want anything to do with me.  It was hard to tell.

So I decided to just work through as much of this energy as I could.  After a few difficult attempts to bring him out of the lope we just went into the most demanding exercises I know and did them one right after another.  We leg yielded, constantly, did short serpentines (these were the closest thing to a break he got), worked on the Martin Black stopping exercise in the trot, and then started interspersing some loping in there.

The lopes were still energetic and erratic, but he was thinking harder and getting sweaty, so they did ultimately go well.  Once he settled into the gait we continued to do a lot of loping.  Loping in circles, figure eights (not too many of these as the quick pace of lead changes wasn't working for us), up and down the strip.  We worked on picking up the lope in a straight away with me choosing the lead.  Great if I was asking for a left lead, not so great with the right.

In the end, Bear was a dripping mess, but I think he was happy.  Bear really has a strong work ethic, and it might be true that he just hasn't had a chance to really dive in and do some work for quite a while.  When we got him the vet suspected he had been out of work for 3 years.  This lined up well with the date of his gelding (he was gelded as a 12 year old, and yeah, he's a papa).  Then he had me for a year and a half.  Plenty of that has been good, especially good for slowly getting him back into shape.  But it is only recently that I've really been able to push him in any way that is both mentally and physically challenging.  And I like to think he enjoys it.

I know it has been a fun journey for me.  Yesterday was also Robin and my 3rd anniversary.  It was great to celebrate it at the barn.  We did the same thing last year, although that ride was nothing like yesterday's ride.

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