Saturday, September 15, 2012

Taking Laredo Out

Just like our first lope, we probably could have gone exploring with Laredo a little earlier.  But waiting a little bit longer certainly helped us get some things down, and I think it helped make the ride really great.

Robin was the first one to ride him after we got him, and then she was also the first one to lope on him, so she thought it would be good if I was the first one to ride him on the trails.  It felt like something that would keep building my confidence in going out and about.

We left the barn in the morning with Robin on Steen and our friend Kat on Kafteinn.  In the little outings we have done on Laredo he has been extremely curious and excited to explore, and today was no different.  He marched right to the front and was walking quite fast.  This felt funny to me, as I'm used to riding Bear who starts quite slow and doesn't mind hanging out in the back.

It was not a fast ride, but we did spend a little time moving out.  On a long stretch of trail we picked up the trot to cover some more ground.  Laredo was great with this, actually even going a little slow initially.  We picked up the pace enough to feel comfortable, but when he realized we were still going after a few minutes he was  starting to slow and tire.  At the end of that stretch we walked to the next section and Laredo was no longer in the lead.  Thankfully he was fine hanging back and following the others.

He remained pretty tired for the rest of the ride, but he would put a lot of effort into his faster gaits, so I could always get him to trot nicely.  And at one point he decided to pick up the lope and catch up to Kafteinn.  Initially I reached for the reins to shut him down, but he moved into it so nicely I decided to see how it would go.  It felt great, but then he really started digging in and bracing to catch up, so at that point I worked to slow him down.  No problem, really, just a little excitement for the youngster.  He was happy to go right back to walking and didn't get riled up at all.

Throughout the ride he kept looking to me and responding to my cues.  I could always move him laterally with a small amount of leg pressure.  I wasn't sure if this would carry over into the trail ride, but in some ways it was even better than our rides close to home.  The same was true for getting a soft feel when we were walking around.  Our trot-walk transitions were not that great, and quite a few times I had to use more pressure than I would have liked to make the transition happen. After those I always went back to asking for soft collection a few times to remind him that he shouldn't move into pressure.  Each time he gave to the bit very nicely.  Again, sometimes better than when we are riding near home.

Getting close to home he was really tired.  We rode him for over two hours, which is by far the longest ride since we got him, and he was exposed to a lot of stuff.  Most of it he loved, the only things he didn't like were some big piles of plastic piping.  I didn't want him to get the idea he could shy and dance away from things out on the trail, so we spent a few minutes walking back and forth along side them.  They were the kind of scary objects that were only going to hurt the right side of his body and not the left.  After a few minutes he realized they wouldn't hurt any side of his body.

Despite encountering so many new things and walking for hours, he still just wanted to play when he got back.  He's such a youngster, and just so much fun to work with.

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