Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Heat of Summer

This has been the hottest summer I've ever experienced in Iowa, and it is only the beginning of July.  Since I work early in the morning and get off early in the afternoons , we haven't been going out much.  It isn't great for the horses to stand around in the heat all day and then go for a ride.  And for us it is just really uncomfortable.

But we have been getting out on the weekends.  Saturday we got out early, but not early enough.  It was still extremely hot, muggy, and buggy.  Laredo, like Bear, is not a huge fan of the bugs.  And he was distracted for most of the ride.

We rode out on the strip.  It had rained that morning, but the sun was out when we rode.  Laredo and I just went through our normal routine.  Nothing was bad, but nothing was great, either.  The worst thing he was doing was lowering his head into the pressure on the bit.  This was not as bad as it has been, but he was still doing it quite frequently.

To try to fix it, I decided to roll him into a stop with one rein whenever he rooted.  He is so soft and supple with that maneauver, and he really doesn't seem to mind it much.  So we would walk around, he would root, and I would bring him to a stop.  Rinse and repeat.

The time between stops got longer, which was good.  And I also noticed that I was really able to pay attention to my legs and body when asking for the stop.  I was able to do it much softer and more precise after all that practice.  Before I used to use the one-rein stop as a type of punishment.  Something to do to shut a horse down when they aren't doing what you want.  As a result, I didn't practice it over and over.  But now I was feeling very comfortable with it.  It's nice when good things come from less than ideal situations.

Sunday the weather was much better.  Again we rode on the strip, but I rode Bear and Robin rode Laredo.  Just when we were starting our ride a bunch of clouds rolled in with a strong breeze.  So it was much more comfortable.


Bear was not the greatest, though.  He was distracted and not inclined to listen to my legs or give softly to the bit.  I decided to get a little hard and demanding on him and see if that would have any kind of effect.  So we went through a lot of circles, leg yields, backs, transitions in and out of the walk, trot, and lope, and whatever else I could think of.  He definitely perked up and got with it, so it was probably the right approach.

Thankfully his back did not appear sore at all.  There was no detectable knot before or after the ride, and he seemed to be moving nicely throughout the ride.  So using the new pad backwards with the relief notch over the sore spot on his back seems to be helping.  And of course a little extra rest from the three horse rotation is probably good for him, too.

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