Friday, June 8, 2012

The Rewards of Going Second

Robin was the first of us to ride Laredo.  I certainly don't mind such things, as she has much more experience with all this stuff than I do and is probably more prepared to handle less-than-ideal situations than I am.  But yesterday I realized there were other benefits as well.  It has been more than a couple weeks since we last rode him.  Initially I was planning to ride him, but then we figured Bear could really use the exercise, so Robin rode Laredo.

That meant I got to go second again.  And I also got to reap all the rewards of her hard work.  She was able to make nice progress in softening him up the other day, but when I hopped on, I was shocked to see that he was softer flexing to the bit than Bear usually is.  He was also very attentive to my legs and willing to try new things like backing in a circle. 

This isn't to say that the whole ride was great.  It wasn't.  He is such a funny, young guy.  His attention span is short, and when he doesn't understand something he is inclined to clam up and/or just shut down.  When we were working on a set of 10 forward and back, he got a little stuck on the forward.  I opened my legs and moved my pelvis forward to let him know I wanted him to walk out.  Nothing.  I brought my legs in with a soft thump.  Nothing.  Then I opened them more quickly, and finally brought them in with a much, much more solid thump.  He perked right up, and then he clammed up and went nowhere.  I had to laugh at him for a moment, then I repeated the ask and he moved right off.  He is a fast learner, and I never had to ask like that again.

It was also an exceptionally gorgeous June day.  The temps were in the high 70s, the sun was shining, and there was no wind.  Literally no wind.  It was kind of amazing.  And it was the only not so ideal part of the ride.  It meant we had a lot of bugs out.  Laredo, like Bear, is very bothered by bugs.  They seem to like his skin and coat, and he always has a few splotches of blood on him where horse flies have been nibbling. These distractions do not help him do (what seem to me) simple things like keeping an even bend in a circle or moving off my leg pressure.  Thankfully he always comes around with a little reminding.

All in all, we had a great time, and it was super fun to ride him again.  Towards the end of the ride I hopped off him to shoot a few photos of Robin.  He followed me around the strip like a puppy dog.  I decided to climb back on for just a few more minutes, and while he didn't seem too thrilled about that, it was exciting that he felt so much more normal to me than he has recently.  It will be exciting to keep getting to know him more and more. 

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