Sunday, April 8, 2012

Motoring at the Walk

Today we went out for a fairly long (for us) trail ride.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  We received a little cold rain yesterday, and that helped green things up some.  But today was in the low 60s with a bright, blue sky.

As soon as I hopped on Bear I knew he was feeling good.  Actually, I thought he was feeling good earlier, but sometimes he feels better when we're doing stuff on the ground than he does under saddle.  Not today.  He was soft and attentive and just felt strong.  As we walked down the drainage and over to the second strip he was walking faster than I've ever felt him go.  It was really fun, especially since he was also very relaxed.  Usually when we're walking on the trails I'm practicing keeping his walk lively.  It doesn't help that we have to keep up with Steen, who is a really fast walker.  But today we spent a good portion of the ride even out-walking Steen.

This week we have not ridden a ton.  They had two days off early in the week and another two days off in the end of the week.  During our last few trail outings the weather has been warmer, and the guys have been somewhat worn out from long rides all week, so today it was great to see how well behaved they could be even when they felt fresh.

We walked and trotted on over to the salad bowl and then spent some time working.  I also had the camera in my pocket, so I hopped off to snap a few shots of Robin before handing the camera off to her. We got a lot of great shots.

I always have fun watching Robin ride.  She was doing so well even Bear was interested.

 His interest only lasted so long; it is hard to pass up the grass in the salad bowl.

Sometimes it is hard to get Bear thinking again after I let him snack, but today I just moved his feet a few times, asked for a flex, and hopped on.  He had no time to eat.  We headed off at a trot and all was well.

Except Bear really, really wanted to run.  Before the ride I was thinking we might try a lope when we were out and about, but he was so energetic I kind of changed my mind.  But when I could feel him offering me what was going to be a nice lope, I decided to just push him into it.  

Once we got going he wasn't so keen on keeping it up, but I made sure we got a few good laps in.  At one point he really started digging in and cutting hard like he did last weekend, but I was able to keep him relaxed by sitting deep and just bending him with my legs.  I decided not to push my luck, though, so we didn't lope for very long.  

The rest of our work in the bowl was mostly at the trot: medium serpentines, figure-eights, and leg-yeilds.  The whole time I just concentrated on riding well and guiding him with my legs.  

I think it was working well, because he was very responsive. He stayed at a really nice pace, and I think I only doubled him once.  And it was a very, very light doubling at that.

We calmed down with a few short serpentines and whirly-gigs and then walked home.  He wasn't walking quite as fast on the way home, but it was still significantly faster than his normal walk.

When we got back to the strip Robin and I each took a turn doing a little loping.  It is nice to take advantage of their slightly tired state, and we also like the idea of reminding them that they still have to work and pay attention even when we get home.  Bear and I started off with some decent lopes to the left.  He was trying to get out of it a few times, but eventually I got to where he would keep going in a soft manner.

Going to the right was different.  It was amazing.  Right is our bad direction, but today we had the best loping to the right I've ever felt.  He never tried to drop it, and he was very soft to my legs guiding him into a larger oval or a smaller circle.  We didn't do much, because I wanted to end on that great note.

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