Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another Wednesday Morning Ride

It is supposed to get over a hundred again today, so I am really happy we got out to the barn early.  Earlier than we've ever gone, actually.  And it felt really nice.  It was getting sticky-hot when we left, but during the ride it was cool and breezy.

I rode Bear out on the strip with the hackamore.  We started off working on figure-eights with no hands.  These were OK.  I felt like I had to correct him more than I would have liked.  But really, that was just my own expectations.  Since we can do great figure-eights with the reins I tend to feel like we should be able to do them all the time.  But this is something we only just started working on, so when I changed my own outlook on the exercise, I felt better about it.  We probably started riding a little better, too.

Despite the pretty good no hands riding, Bear moved right into being distracted.  I worked hard on changing things up and keeping him thinking.  I think it worked as we started to ride together a little bit more after a few minutes.  I'm not sure what was on his mind, but he really just wanted to look off in the distance.

When we started hitting all our transitions and patterns with very little use of the reins, I asked for some loping.  He was feeling very balanced at the trot, and this carried right over to the lope.  Because of our tough moments on the trail ride Sunday, I wanted to spend some time trotting and loping in long straightaways.  So we loped on down the strip right up to the point of the steep downhill.  He was great with it.  The first time he did get a little excited and want to run right back, but we just trotted a few circles and figure-eights and then trotted right back up the strip.  It was a very nice feeling trot, too.

So we kept that up for much of the ride. At no point did he get overexcited and start digging in and stiffening up.  Only one time did he pick up the lope when I didn't ask. I checked him with one rein to bring him back to the trot.  Instead he dropped his speed considerably and gave me the most relaxed lope of the day.  So I figured I had to take that. For everyone of our loping stretches he remained extremely attentive to my legs.  Since I don't have a lot of practice running a horse straight, I don't think I was using my legs as effectively as possible.  But the interesting thing was that Bear was really listening to them.  It meant I got a few shifts and turns I wasn't really asking for.  At one point I'm pretty sure he gave me a flying lead change.  So it was really cool to feel all that.

We then spent a few minutes watching Robin and Laredo trot around.  They both looked great.  Laredo has been experiencing some big chipping in his front hooves, so we were happy to see that he is not really bothered by that. Robin said he was so smooth and attentive she wanted to end on that note and she hopped off.  Things were good with Bear and I, so I was ready to end the ride, too.  But I also wanted to do just a little more work with no hands.  I think it is a good way to begin and end our rides.

So we walked around the strip for just a few minutes, and he was amazing.  Far better than during the beginning of the ride.  I felt like I could take him anywhere I wanted to go.  It was a really great way to end the ride.

I feel like lately Bear and I have had another interesting shift in our relationship.  The past couple weeks he has been coming up to me in the pasture from much farther off and with much more energy.  He seems to be liking his job and really enjoying the new challenges I present him with.  The hackamore definitely makes him think more than the bit.  Initially he seemed put off by it, but now I think he gets into it.  I also think part of the shift could be that he is feeling better.  It has been weeks since I've felt the hard knot in his back. I know how grumpy I can get when something hurts, so it makes me feel good to see him feeling good.


  1. Bear looks really nice in that hackamore.

  2. Thanks, Suzanne! It has been really fun working on this transition.

    I'm also a little jealous of your ride with Paul. I can't wait to hear about the rest of it.