Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Double Ride

It was again my turn to work with Laredo.  We went to the barn extra early as it was both Duke Day and Vet Day, so we knew things would be a little hectic and crowded.

Thankfully Laredo keeps getting more and more settled.  Today it only took me 4 minutes to get the halter on him.  Every day has been a huge improvement.  And while we probably could have done it faster each day, we also want to set it up so that he wants to be caught.  I think it is working, as he is so curious and social.

We used the same tactic as yesterday to get the bridle on him.  It worked well, and he is also getting better about his ears.  I also agree with Robin's guess in that it could be a brace issue in his left side.  Either way, the last couple days of extra bending and not making a big deal about his head have allowed him to make some nice progress.

Despite getting to the barn early, things were pretty crowded when I brought him into the arena.  The barn owner was there with kittens and dogs, boarders were arriving, a gaggle of pre-teen girls were running around, and the vet showed up extra early.  Laredo handled all this quite well.  I do think he was looking around and listening to everything more than yesterday, but overall he was really calm.

It took me a few minutes of groundwork to calm myself down, though.  It really wasn't that long ago that I wouldn't have felt comfortable riding Bear amidst all that commotion.  But by the time I swung up into the saddle I had more than enough stuff to think about.

I kept the ride really simple and we only focused on four things: lateral flexes, serpentines of varying sizes, stops, and backing.  And of those four things we probably spent 90 percent of our time serpentining around the arena.  It was really fun to feel such a young horse try to move in a balanced way.  He is so different than Steen and Bear, and I think it will take him a little while to get physically comfortable carting around a rider.

Serpentining from left to right.
Just like with Robin, he was much, much stiffer going left, so we worked on that direction a little more.  I used consistent pressure with my legs and tried to be as light as possible with the reins, but when he'd stiffen up I'd block and encourage him to bend through the turn.  Once I felt a nice change and he held a bend on his own (even if just for a split second), I rewarded him with the tiny release that came with changing directions.

I saw continual improvement throughout the ride, despite the fact that things actually got noisier.  We did have one mini startle.  I think the noise just got to him and he couldn't quite see around the big pile of hay bales, but all he did was freeze in place for a second.  It then took about a minute of turns and bends to get him calm and thinking again, but for a soon to be 3 year old, it truly amazes me how fast he calms down.

I hopped off before the ride started to go downhill in any way.  By that time we were up for our trimmings, so I ran out to the pasture to grab Bear while a fellow boarder gave Laredo a lot of pets.

After the quick trim, I tacked Bear and headed out to the strip for a second ride.  He was really calm and in a great mood.  I think his back is slowly getting better, and yesterday's ride seemed to have loosened him up some.  And of course he felt so different than Laredo.  He's so much bigger and more substantial, and he is also really soft.  It can get easy to think you aren't getting very far with your horse sometimes, but that is one of the things we're excited about with having a third horse, it will just give us so much more perspective.


I've been working really hard to use the reins as little as possible, and today might have been one of the best rides yet for that.  It also meant that when I wanted a little collection, he would give it to me right away.  Since things were going well and he was feeling good, I kept the ride pretty short.  There is a good chance he could get a few rides in a row this week.

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