Tuesday, May 8, 2012

He Finally Arrives

I know we only had to wait a few days once we made an offer, but it really felt like much longer before Laredo finally arrived.  Waiting just never gets easier, so we went out to the barn early and just decided to ride.

Last week, during one of my many sessions of poking around the web for horse stuff, I came across a short article about using contoured, cut-out pads to help sore backed horses.  Robin was kind enough to let me try her new pad on Bear.  The fit seemed quite good, but you never know what you can tell from one ride.

Out on the strip, though, I was already thinking about things differently.  Bear was moving great.  His stride was long and fluid, he would stop on a dime (something he often does, but not when he's sore), and our bends were a thing of beauty.  I never had to coax him into a tighter serpentine.  In fact, late in the ride I was working on doing figure-eights with my hands firmly on the horn, and with only my legs I was able to get tight circles like I only used to get with reins (and with a fair bit of encouragement in those reins).

So maybe the pad really did help.  I am trying to not be too excited, as I know I've posted many times about things that I hoped would help only to find out that they helped a little bit.  Or they only helped temporarily.  So we are definitely in the wait and see stage. But the other piece of evidence we have is that Robin's ride was not nearly as great as mine.

It is clear that the light rides and extra days off are also helping Bear.  I could certainly feel that today, but we also have a ways to go.  During the last few weeks, when things were perhaps at their most uncomfortable for Bear, he started to brace up periodically during our rides.  Now I can see that this has become something of a habit, as during this ride he would occasionally get very stiff when picking up a trot or when I would ask him to yield to one side.  He would then get a little surprised shortly after the moment, perhaps realizing that there wasn't any discomfort.  I worked hard during these moments to stay as light and positive as possible.  So hopefully if we can keep resting him and I can keep riding well, we can work through this.

We ended the ride just a few minutes before the breeder arrived with Laredo (we've definitely decided on the name, and we think it is a good fit for him).  He backed out of the trailer like a pro.  We could see immediately that since we last saw him, he had shed out a little more and also put on a few pounds.  The recent rains have probably been good for the grasses and consequently good for his tummy.

We introduced him to Bear and Steen in the airlock before we turned him out with the other horses.  They all seemed to get a long great.  Laredo has grown up in a herd, so I think he'll fit in quite well with ours.

After we introduced him to the rest of the herd, we spent some time watching them all.  Laredo was happy to play with all the others, but he wasn't pushy about it.  He would also go back and forth between playing and grazing, which seems to be a good indicator that he was already settling in.  The only other horses I've seen introduced to our herd have been older.  I think it can take them longer to readjust than a youngster.

In some ways Steen was the funniest.  He would play hard with Laredo, and then take a break to come hangout with us.  Hopefully that will help the young guy learn that hanging out with us is pretty cool.

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