Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Continuing the Softness

One of the great things about having Laredo is that he has changed the way Robin and I ride, and think about, our main horses.  Though I would try very hard to approach every ride from a fresh perspective, I couldn't always accomplish that, and I would fall back on old excuses for my old horse.

Continually changing horses has allowed me to be more flexible and, overall, much softer.  When I climbed on Bear today I had a much easier time riding in the same frame of mind that I did yesterday, and it had a positive impact on our ride.

We rode in the treed pasture. We had not ridden in there for many weeks, but the horses were not in it and the sun was rather warm, so it was the perfect place to ride.  The horses do tend to be a little more distracted in this pasture when we haven't been in it for a while.  It is full of manure from other horses, closer to the cows, closer to the road, and just full of tree branches and squirrels and other things to pay attention to that aren't us.  So I started out not worrying about any of that stuff and just thinking about doing more with less, riding from as high up my legs as possible and only coming in with my hands if I really needed to back up my request.

Bear did start out in what I would call one of his "usual" modes.  He was quite compliant, but not very interested in listening to specifics.  So he'd turn left or right, but it was going to be as quick or slow or sharp or shallow as he wanted it to be.  I just did the same thing I did with Laredo yesterday, made sure my body was completely lined up with where I wanted to go and then brought in more leg or rein to make sure Bear got on that line.

His attitude turned around almost immediately.  He was moving nicely, stopping hard, backing up with no pressure, and we even got back to some really great turns on his hind end.  I was happy, and he seemed happy, too.  Almost proud of himself.  It feels good when your horse responds like that.

We also did some loping straight across the pasture.  In the past I have only loped medium sized circles in this pasture, and they haven't really gone well.  Today Bear felt quite good and I just picked a long line and pushed him out into the lope.  It worked really well.  Like on the strip sometimes, he was perhaps overly sensitive to my legs and we had some veering issues, but they didn't bother me.  I just worked on holding my body and legs in a way to make it obvious where I wanted to go.  If Bear wanted to veer to Laredo or a tree for some reason, I just blocked that.

I was surprised with how relaxed I felt doing that.  Really, on the whole ride I felt great.  We walked the perimeter and squeezed around trees and I never felt worried about anything.  I would not say in general that I am a worrier on horseback, but I do take a cautious approach.  I guess the work we've been doing lately and the great partnership Bear and I had going today made for a new level of relaxation.

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