Monday, May 28, 2012

End of a Long Weekend

This morning we got out to the barn for the third morning in a row.  Again it was warm, but thankfully breezier than the past few days, so it felt a little bit more comfortable.  But still, I think I was tired from the long weekend, and it wasn't the best day for me out there.

I was disappointed to find that Bear's back was pretty tender again.  I was hopeful that because it was good the last two days, it would at least be pretty good today.  Guess not.  I gave him some extra massages before we got started and that seemed to help him relax and loosen up.

While Robin worked with Laredo on the strip, I did some groundwork before mounting.  We worked on the half-circle exercise while walking up and down the strip.  I was able to get him to move off very little pressure.  But it was so slow that the exercise wasn't working really well.  So I had to speed him up some.  I did a good job of getting him going but not letting him get overly excited, which happened a few times last Wednesday.  So it was a nice balance of energy and softness.  He also seemed to be moving through the turns quite nicely.  A few times he scooted through in a way that suggested some possible tightness (these things are so hard to see, and I sometimes wonder if I'm seeing things that aren't there), but most of his turns were smooth and powerful.

When I mounted I kept things slow and easy for quite a while.  We did a lot of bends and easy serpentines.  I could tell he was a little reluctant to fully give on his right side, but after a few minutes he did open up some.  Then we worked on a set of 10.  10 steps forward, 10 steps back, 9 and 9, 8 and, you get the idea.  It did not start off well at all.  Bear was not paying much attention to me, he kept looking off at the herd and again not listening to my legs.  But as we crept closer to 1, things got a little better.  He could see the goal in the exercise, and he got with me a little more.

Unfortunately we spent most of the ride with Bear being spacey.  Mostly he preferred to look at the herd, but a few times he would gaze off into the bean and corn fields.  I worked him through a wide variety of exercises in hopes of getting him focused.  We leg yielded, worked on S bends, and did a lot of transitions.  But none of these were great.

It was a little frustrating.  I suppose the good thing is that I was keeping him back on his haunches again, and if he wasn't there, I could notice it immediately.  It used to take me a while to figure this out, or I would have to have Robin point it out for me.  So at least I'm feeling more.

We finished up the ride by working on circles and figure-eights with (almost) no reins.  For some reason this was the best part of the ride.  Perhaps because I sat back and relaxed more.  Or maybe Bear just knew we were almost done.  Either way I find it odd that when I was asking with less I was getting more.  I'm sure Tom, Bill, and Ray would not be the least bit surprised, but at the end of another hot ride, I was not really thinking that way.

I was also probably not in the best frame of mind to take over and work with Laredo afterwards, either.  Robin said she had been making nice progress with his head and ears.  I could tell that she was pushing him, as he was exhausted.  Mentally more than physically.  I don't think he did much running at all.  Just heavy desensitizing.

So I took him into the outdoor arena to continue the same work and things were just so so for me.  I left Bear loose in there to graze, and I hoped that would help things.  Especially since he was inclined to walk up to Laredo and I and just hang out.  I kept showing Laredo how much Bear loves to have his head and ears scratched.  Laredo looked unimpressed.

As I continued to work with him things went a little downhill.  I stopped early so as not to do anything I shouldn't.  I was about to put him back in the pasture when I noticed he needed his fly-mask.  It took me a while to get it on.  Getting the mask on was not great, but it wasn't awful.  At least having a specific goal allowed me to think harder and be more methodical.  Once I got it on he was pretty relaxed.  He let me rub around all over it and didn't seem too bothered.  The same was true in the pasture when I slipped his rope halter off.  I guess we all just need a little time off.

Another nice thing about the end of the day was that Bear's back was a little looser when I put him back than it was before the ride.  I gave him a lot more rubs and even though he wasn't tied, he showed no inclination to scoot away from me. 

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