Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Long Weekend Report

I took Friday off because my parents were in town.  They have not visited for about a year, so it was fun for us to hang out and spend a lot of time at the barn. 

Friday was cold and windy.  We woke up to a damp day and then it just got wetter.  It was still sprinkling on our way out to the barn, but we were hoping it would end soon.  It did, but it didn't really warm up at all.

Robin spent a lot of time with Steen, and the rest of us worked to get Bear and Laredo tacked up.  Last time they visited, Mom had a great ride on Bear, so we were hoping to repeat that.  We rode in the treed lot again, and things went pretty well.

We definitely ride in a different style than Mom is used, so there were a few tricky moments.  But Bear was generally willing to follow us around.

I had a tough ride as Laredo was full of energy. Way more than I've ever felt in him.  I think it would have been really fun to play around with that and see what we could get done, but I was also spending so much time watching Bear and Mom that I wasn't helping him as much as I could. 

It was probably good for him; he's got to learn that sometimes he just needs to follow along and get the job done.  He did settle in nicely once we spent a lot of time trotting, and we also threw in a couple of lopes in the end and that tired him out some.

On Saturday we went back out to work on Steen's leg.  It was time to take the bandage off, and we were happy to see things had closed up nicely.  His sunburn is healing slower, but it is not looking any worse.  He also appeared to be in a slightly better mood.

We tacked Bear up again and Mom had another ride on him in the indoor.  He was a little better for her inside, and they spent more time cruising around.

In the end they even got some loping in, so it was a pretty good ride.  Bear was definitely goey, though.  Multiple times he picked up the lope on Mom.  After they rode I climbed on for a few minutes and he was just as inclined to run with me.  He is looking and feeling good, but still, he should be listening to his rider.

Today it was just Robin and I.  We were planning on washing Steen off and then exploring the recently cut soybean field, but once we got started with everything Robin thought it best to stay with Steen and clean him as much as possible and let things dry before putting him out, so I rode Laredo in the arena.

It was the first time either one of us had ridden him inside since the second ride we put on him way back in May.  I was curious to see how he would behave, especially since his three year old buddy was in there with us.

Thankfully he was great.  He was both relaxed and extremely soft.  I couldn't believe how well I could steer him around with my legs.  Doing small circles, cutting across the arena, or staying right on the rail were all exceptionally easy.

We spent a little while trotting around, and then once our buddy left I asked him for the lope.  This was funny.  I thought he'd be disinclined to pick it up, but it took significantly more energy from me to get him going than I thought it would.  He was definitely speeding up, but he was not interested in shifting over to the lope.  Finally I was able to get some nice strides out of him, but he didn't hold it for long.

So I shifted my focus of loping a few laps to just getting him to lope a few strides.  Over the next many minutes I would periodically push him into the lope and then bring him down as a reward.  He got it, and our upward transitions improved by a lot.

We worked on a few other things before returning to the lope, but this time he was even less interested in loping than he was before.  He wouldn't even trot as fast, and he'd get hung up in places.  I finally realized he was throwing in some little kicks and mini-bucks.  They were very, very small, but they still were not what I wanted to feel.  So after each one I stopped him with one rein and then continued on.  It took a while before I got another lope out of him, and I was grateful to have Robin sitting there coaching me along.

In the end, it was a really great ride.  I did start with some groundwork in the beginning, but I did more in the end.  Last night Robin and I watched the beginning of the new 7 Clinics DVD with Buck Brannaman.  The first section was all on groundwork, and we got a lot of useful tips for moving our horses around.  I always thought I was getting good circles from our guys, but I probably wasn't spending as much time focusing specifically on the hind end and transitioning from the disengage back into circles or bringing the front across for half circles.  Basically, my horse wasn't always ready to shift over when I asked him to.  Sure enough when I worked on this with Laredo he wasn't that good at first, but we made some improvement in a short while.

I did get after him a little with the groundwork, but it was all helpful.  On the ground, I'm not always as firm as I should be, and then under saddle I'm sometimes too firm.  I need to work on switching those around a little.  I think it worked well today, because when we were done Laredo followed me all the way around the winter pasture and back to the gate.  He didn't want to leave, even after we walked away


  1. Great shot of him stepping his hindquarters over. Looks great, Brian. I love how prolific you and Robin are on your blogs. You both are doing a fine job with yourselves and your horses.

    Groundwork has always been more difficult for me to do, but it has gotten better. If we keep working at it, and work at being specific, it will all come together for us.

  2. Thanks, Suzanne. Sometimes I think the posts can get a little bland, but since we've been doing them for so long we have an excellent record of how far we've come. It can be really educational to go through old posts and read about rides and check out the pictures.

    Groundwork was one of those things I learned way back when it was just Robin and Steen and I didn't have a horse. Of course, we were doing things a little differently then, but I've always liked it, and I think it was one of the things that got me more interested in horses.

    What I like about the style of horsemanship we're following now is that everything is connected; hanging out, groundwork, riding, whatever. I think that is helping me focus on these things a little more and get better results. And there is just so much to learn! That is also a huge part of the fun.