Sunday, May 13, 2012

This is Why We Wanted a Third Horse

Today was sunny, in the low 70s, and there was a light breeze out of the north.  We ran a few errands in the morning and had nothing to do in the afternoon but ride.  I had another double day starting with Steen and then moving over to Bear.  Robin also had a double, working with Laredo first and then climbing on Steen.

We rode in the outdoor "arena" because it is surrounded by horses and also close to the hitching post, so we thought it would be a good place for Laredo's first outdoor ride.  It was.  That guy just keeps doing great; it is really exciting.

Meanwhile, Steen and I had an overall better ride than we did earlier this week.  I think we were both just a little more used to one another.  He was not picking up the trot like he was last time, though he did do it a few times.  He was also much more consistent in his bends and softer to the hackamore.  It was fun for me to feel him move off very subtle rein movements.  It is making me more excited to get Bear going in a hackamore.

We did get a little stuck when I would choose an exercise to work on for a little while and then we'd fizzle out and watch Robin ride.  So I decided to work through many exercises in a slightly more demanding rate.  This worked really well for both of us as we had to concentrate a lot, and we got a nice rhythm going.


Robin also seemed more at ease with me handling her horse.  She only gave me one tip, and it was very spot on.  She noticed that Steen was dumping onto his front end when I'd turn him at the trot.  I knew we weren't going great, but because Steen feels so different than Bear, I wasn't sure what kind of change I needed to make  Two brief corrections to get him back on his haunches worked wonders.

After Robin was done I took Laredo out to the pasture and grabbed Bear.  He was really happy to see me and came walking right over.  Laredo was also happy to be with us and tried to follow us out the gate.  I took that as a good sign.  I gave him a few pets and then left him to graze.

Bear was hot but otherwise good.  We worked through some circles and serpentines to warm up.  Just like yesterday, he was extremely attentive to my legs.  But then we worked on our walk/trot transitions in a circle, and things were not good.  In the beginning he was not moving in or out of the trot well, and he wasn't bending at the walk or the trot.  So basically we had nothing going well.

I tried to break things down and just focus on one issue at a time.  Still, it took a while to make some progress.  After a while I felt like we were in the same place, but then we switched directions and things started to change for the better.  Our transitions became smoother, and I didn't have to use the reins nearly as much to direct our turns.  It felt good.


Since Bear was very willing and moving nicely by the end of the ride, I decided to try a little loping.  He picked it up for me very nicely, but then it deteriorated a little.  He got chargey and was again inclined to lean in heavily and stay on his front end.  I was able to bring him up and back a little bit, but I wonder if he wasn't feeling great.  We've been changing pads on him, and hopefully his new pad will be here soon.


We went both directions and things were pretty much the same.  Occasionally we'd get a few nice strides, but they didn't last.  Robin thought he might just be getting out of practice with the running.  That could be true, as these past many weeks we've given him a lot of days off and when we do ride, we haven't been loping much.  Today was our third ride in a row, and I started on Steen to keep things easier on Bear.  I'll have to remember to at least move into the lope a few times each ride, just to keep it a part of what we do.

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